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Old 10-02-2013, 10:57 PM   #1
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Van AC auto shutoff?

Just noticed while driving on the highway for a long stretch on a hot day that my van's air conditioner (AC) shutoff while climbing up an incline. Then the AC turned back on as soon as I reached the top of the incline. Paid close attention after that and noticed it happened on more than one occassion, each time just as the engine needed a little more power.

I don't recall anything in the owner's manual about an AC auto shutoff feature. The van temperature gauges indicated normal engine temps (i.e., right in the middle of the range). All other gauges were measuring normal and there were no dashboard light indication of a problem.

Does anyone know if this is something I should have my dealer look into?
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:18 AM   #2
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

I can see a user name change in the future...
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:40 AM   #3
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

Did it stop blowing air? Or did the compressor stop and the air got warmer?

No air out of the vents means you have a vacuum leak somewhere, almost always from a critter.

If it's cutting the compressor, that can happen but coolant temps have be pretty high first (I'm not sure how high, but even at 220F it should be running).
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Old 10-03-2013, 09:37 PM   #4
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

Mine did that when purchased new -- A/C cuts out while driving up long hills.

In my case, it would switch to the "Defrost" mode -- air would stop coming out of the vents, and come out by the windshield instead.

Problem was a kinked vacuum hose somewhere under the dash. When driving up long hills, the "vacuum" supply gets depleted, and the HVAC system switches back to default, which is Defrost.

Took several tries and several mechanics to find this. Fixed now.

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Old 10-08-2013, 10:32 PM   #5
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

It stopped blowing air all together, but then started up again once I crested the hill. If it was a critter clogging things up why would it start up again in a repeated pattern like that?

I failed to mention this was in the max a/c mode vice the normal a/c mode (don't know if it would have done it in that mode). It's putting out pretty good otherwise. No problems noted.

I checked under the hood and nothing looks wrong. Can't see the entire line though - especially whatever is running under the dash. Doubt I can talk my dealer into looking too hard either since it is not displaying the problem enough for them to see it in action.

Not long after owning the van (maybe a year into it) I began noticing a soft clunk noise (like a muffled rubber door slamming shut) shortly after the vehicle was turned with max a/c on. I was thinking it's just a vacuum seal popping on start-up - or the compressor starting up. It doesn't make that sound again during operation or shutdown. Coincidence with this other issue?

Also, I assume it's normal to see just under a quarter cup of water dripped onto the pavement beneath the vehicle (up under the engine area on the passenger side) after running a/c and parking. Normal condensation for the Pacific Northwest?

Thanks for the heads up all.

Not too cool soon ???
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Old 10-08-2013, 11:27 PM   #6
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

Yup, you have a vacuum leak. The clunk at restart confirms that. It's bleeding off, and under high load the engine doesn't make enough vacuum to compensate for the leak, but then makes vacuum again when the load reduces. Next time, feel above the dash. You will be able to feel the air blowing out the defrost ports, since this is the fail-safe default mode for no-vacuum.

I had the same problem on my van, but it was the rear A/C. In my case, the diaphragm in the vacuum actuator ruptured. But leaks in the lines are much more common, and often are caused by rodents taste-testing your lines, but not always. Its also possible you have a bad check-valve, allowing the vacuum to get lost back into the manifold. I cheap hand vacuum pump can help you diagnose this by applying vacuum to isolated segments of the vacuum line going between the manifold, selector knob, and actuator.

And yes, the puddle is normal.
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:05 PM   #7
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

I had the same issue and it was as Carringb said. Hold on to your wallet depending on where the leak is. Ford claimed it was a 400 dollar job, mind you I didn't have a clue where the leak was and neither did they. I had other work that needed to be done in the same area and told Ford if they didn't give me a cut in the price just not to worry and I'd take it elsewhere. They did the job for 1/2 the price. You might want to see what an A/C shop will charge compared to a dealership. I didn't check into that.
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Old 11-14-2013, 01:17 PM   #8
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

So, since I don't see any freon dripping below my van, it appears that step one is to confirm the A/C leak with a one-hour pressure test at my Ford dealership. If they verify I have a leak and I don't get it fixed what's the worst thing that can happen?
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Old 11-14-2013, 03:07 PM   #9
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

Joey you may never see it. Sometimes it's obvious other time not. Often a dye is used. If it is an freon (R-12 or similar) leak it can be costly to have to top it off on a regular basis. Just make sure you use the correct stuff for the year of your vehicle.

That said you have been able to rule out a vacuum leak?
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Old 11-14-2013, 03:23 PM   #10
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Re: Van AC auto shutoff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joey2cool
So, since I don't see any freon dripping below my van, it appears that step one is to confirm the A/C leak with a one-hour pressure test at my Ford dealership. If they verify I have a leak and I don't get it fixed what's the worst thing that can happen?
Freon level will have zero affect on the airflow from the vents. You have a vacuum leak. Any independent shop with a smoke tester can probably find it easily (accessing it to fix it may be tricky though) and even without a smoke machine, a simple hand vacuum pump and gauge can eventually isolate a leak.

If your vacuum leak worsen, it can actually affect your power brakes, and can also affect the emissions system and cause check engine lights and in severe cases will burn extra fuel.

There is a very basic vacuum diagram posted under you hood but it only shows the emissions equipment connected to it, and not the complete routing or HVAC components.
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