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2000 escort ZX2 AC not working

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Jul 6, 2008, 11:21 AM

Post #1 of 4 (8428 views)
2000 escort ZX2 AC not working Sign In

    My car is a 2000 Ford Escort ZX2 with about 150K miles on it. The engine is the 2.0L DOHC Ztech. About 9 months ago the AC stopped blowing cold for one or two days but then began blowing cold again without me doing anything to it at all. Then about a month ago the same thing occurred on the way to work but once again it began working when I started the car after work. Yesterday (July 5th) it went out again after working all that day just fine. I use the AC all the time as I live in FL and the summer here is killer; the AC always works and blows cold less the times mentioned above. I have never had it checked, looked at or charged at all, I have recently replaced the serpentine belt so I checked it and it is fine. After running the car and AC on Max cold for about 30 minutes during a drive all the pipes/tubes/hoses are warm to the touch as with the rest of the engine (this included the small tank (?) that the low pressure tube goes to); all are warm to the touch including tubing going into the cabin. I purchased a 134a+ recharge/leak sealer kit which has a gauge on it. Before I did anything I checked the charge already in the system (low pressure side) and it was at about 120 psi which the gauge says is in the red and bad. I actually purchased the kit and checked the pressure on the day the AC went out and started working again following work (the second time mentioned above which was about a month ago) and the pressure stated the same high reading but since it was working I left it alone. Since it stopped working, on guidance of a friend, I discharged the system via the low pressure side, I also checked the high pressure side to ensure all was discharged and it was; I then recharged the system with the above mentioned kit to about 45psi and nothing changed. FYI; during initial discharging of system a light green fluid came out prior to completion, I stopped and then continued draining, no more liquid came out. The gas from the system was clear and without odor (as far as I could tell since I was keeping my face away from it as much as possible). I am a full time student and do not have the $700-$1000 this may cost so if anyone has any info/guidance on this matter please let me know. I have a decent understanding of vehicle mechanics and have a lot of tools to do repairs so hopefully I can do this DIY. I know nothing of the AC system, but with proper guidance and a repair manual I am sure I can fix it, I just can't diagnose the issue as I do not have the training nor the money to just start replacing things. Thank you in advance.
p.s. If anyone is in the New Port Richey Florida (Tampa) area and is willing to lend a hand I would be more than willing to compensate (what ever I can anyway) for your time.

(This post was edited by smdmartin on Jul 6, 2008, 11:34 AM)

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jul 6, 2008, 12:32 PM

Post #2 of 4 (8415 views)
Re: 2000 escort ZX2 AC not working Sign In

What you purchased is fondly called a "Death Kit" and it worked for you! You just killed a good system friend! Fortunately just the A/C and not YOU!

At the miles the most likely problem with the description is the clutch air gap is too large from wear. Try it with a standard biz card it should slip thru nicely. Folded well it should be tight. Bet not.

Now you empied the system as any pressure lower than the temp is empty essentially. It's hard enough to get the exact charge and now the baseline is lost. Venting refrigerant intentionally is illegal as if I care personally but just think mate - how could it be too full by itself? What were you thinking? When compressor is not engaged the reading from the cute color wheel is just a static pressure not much more info than the temp of the refrigerant which by your gauge was about exactly 98 degrees F. if your gauge was close!

You've opened the kit and no doubt own it now and it might be useful as a single gauge. System below temp is now capable of pulling in air as it's below temp in PSI. If your quick and disconnect the plug on the compressor you'll save having to evacuate to a vacuum and can recharge the system after the clutch gap is fixed or whatever electrical problem is preventing clutch from engaging.

Put the death kit away for now. Read the label though - it has unknown snake oil in it to seal leaks you don't have and an oil that isn't known compatible with your system. Some of the leak sealer chems used turn to gum when exposed to air so toss that can or you are chancing a $2000 buck repair - sadly on a system that didn't have a leak or need refrigerant.

This system hold 28oz of pure 134a refrigerant. Cans are sold in 12oz containers. With a can tap and hose with gauge you could charge in 24oz and know that much is in there. If you have a scale that measures ounces you could add the remaider doing the math. All air must be purged from hose before hooking up to car - another thing left unsaid on almost all kits and devices!

Without equipment you can't put refrigerant in the system without forcing the compressor to run or finding out why it wasn't. Harder now but do test or just swap out relay, check air gap, and test for power to the Low Pressure Cut Out (LPCO) switch which I think is used in this car.

Hit back for details and I'll save you from the horror show you were about to enter!



Jul 6, 2008, 7:01 PM

Post #3 of 4 (8406 views)
Re: 2000 escort ZX2 AC not working Sign In

    Bare in mind that I know nothing of the AC system but do know a bit of mechanics. With that, where can I measure the clutch air gap and how do I do so? Unless I am mistaken that is near the pulley for the compressor right? It engages via magnetics when activated correct? Can that be adjusted or is there a part that needs to be replaced? As far as the coolant goes, I drove maybe a total of 4 miles and then checked it again with the gauge that came with my "death kit" and it is again reading in the red. Should I be concerned with this or is it just because of the gauge being cheep? Also, is there a way to trouble shoot for electrical problems causing the clutch to not engage?
P.S. If you can send any diagrams it would be very helpful. Thanks again.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jul 6, 2008, 7:30 PM

Post #4 of 4 (8404 views)
Re: 2000 escort ZX2 AC not working Sign In

Sorry if I came across hard on you and the "death kits" - it's high season for A/c problems and the web is abuzz with the troubles.

You didn't have much of a problem at the beginning and now you do. You don't need manuals or diagrams just some common checks.

When pressure in system has a static of about 45 PSI a pressure and or temp switch will allow compressor to get current at clutch coil (magnet that engages the compressor) and then would shut compressor off at about 28 PSI or so if operating that's too cold and would make ice or send liquid refrigerant back to compressor - not good.

It would do that if it was too cold out as the temp/pressure is what the system is measuring. When compressor is not engaged it's just static pressure and as said when below in psi what temp is it's empty basically. It might try to click on for a nano second which would instantly drop the low side pressure to a vacuum never mind any pressure and system will shut down.

With just a static pressure of over 45 - would be nice if it were normal but it may work, just put key in "run" position (engine off) and request A/C. First - just bump the outer plate of the compressor and it may snap into engaged or locked to compressor itself. If it takes the bump and clicks the air gap IS THE problem. They can be adjusted - each is a bit different and most require a puller to remove clutch and take out a shim - some can be done right on car in place and others not - don't know on this one right now.

The problem right now is so much refrigerant is out the pressure is now marginal for testing. If you can check the plug at the compressor for 12v current for now it would help. If nothing I need to know if this system uses a LPCO and if so you can test TWO wire ones for current and we can do some tests if it has current. If this is a TXV system we need more pressure for testing easily. Right now system isn't contaminated with air I hope and shouldn't be. Best to keep it that way.

Test for current for now and report back with yes or no with the test and take just the static pressure again and let's go from there,


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