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Topic Title: New 2004 Ford Expedition A/C question (problem)?
Created On Thu February 19, 2004 7:38 PM
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jrcase
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Thu February 19, 2004 7:38 PM
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Year: 2004
Make: Ford
Model: Expedition
Engine Size: 5.4
Refrigerant Type: 134a

I just bought a new 2004 Ford Expedition and I was traveling down the road and decided to turn on the A/C. After a few minutes, it did not seem to get much cooler (outside temp about 50 degrees). I did not need the A/C but I wanted to test it. The Expedition has less than 800 miles on it. Anyway, I got home and got my thermometer out and put it in the vent. The compressor was cycling (although on and off times were fast cycles). The temp. was 45 degrees at the vent after it ran for about 15 minutes. This was in my garage which was about 60 degrees. I thought this was not right so I put the thermometer in the vent of my 2003 Chevy and it was 35 degrees at the vent. When I increase the RPM's to 2000+, the air cools down to 37 degrees. Is there a problem? I don't want to be hot this summer and I SURE don't want an A/C system that is leaking from the factory. Is it possible someone on a test drive before I bought it let some freon out for meanness? Or is it just to cool out for the system to run at it's peak? Why is the Chevy so much cooler at idle? Are Ford's known to have fast cycling compressors at Idle in cool weather? I will take it back to the dealer but they said it would be best to wait until warm weather. Thanks a million for any help!

 
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k5guy
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Thu February 19, 2004 8:22 PM
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I would not be surprised to see a CCOT system fast cycle in 50 degree F ambient temps. But the temps do seem a little strange. Have you had someone check the system?

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DetroitAC
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Thu February 19, 2004 8:35 PM
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First just a clarification, some of a particular OEM's cars are good, some are bad, they are all different.

There are a couple of not so good things about the Expedition A/C system. One of them is the way in which it cycles. It has a thermistor that is inserted into the TXV block to sense the temperature of the evaporator inlet refrigerant, and then an offset that is a guesstimation of the evaporator pressure drop to guess when the core is right above icing up. It also has a low side pressure switch that it can cycle with if the scroll compressor is spinning very fast. The problem you have (my guess here) is the design of this system. They have to set the temperature at which the thermistor will signal a cycle off fairly high so that at high cooling capacity situations your compressor will not cycle off when you really need the cooling. The compromise is that at very low cooling capacity situations (like you had) the cycling temperature will be quite a bit warmer than usual.

I think your Expedition is acting normally, (but when you say fast cycles, how fast??, I would guess you should be getting about 10 seconds of on time in that kind of ambient at idle) and I think it will cool very well this summer as long as you're moving. It has a large fixed scroll compressor with a very high drive ratio, and it will really cool well with engine speeds above idle. You may notice idle cooling performance is a little weak.

If this really bugs you, I don't think your Ford dealer will be able to fix it, but it should be their problem . You could disconnect the thermistor and rig up a thermistor that goes into the evap core (HOW IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE!!). There is a logic module on the TXV that reads the thermistor and either switches or grounds a logic line to the PCM. You could find the characteristics of the existing thermistor (resistance vs. temp), find the switichng points of the logic module, and then find a thermistor/resistor combination that will cycle the system when it should.

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Anonymous
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Thu February 19, 2004 11:10 PM
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Quote

Originally posted by: k5guy
I would not be surprised to see a CCOT system fast cycle in 50 degree F ambient temps. But the temps do seem a little strange. Have you had someone check the system?



I have not had the system checked yet. I think I will wait until I see how it cools when the weather gets warmer. Thanks for the reply!
 
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Anonymous
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Thu February 19, 2004 11:19 PM
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Quote

Originally posted by: DetroitAC
First just a clarification, some of a particular OEM's cars are good, some are bad, they are all different.



There are a couple of not so good things about the Expedition A/C system. One of them is the way in which it cycles. It has a thermistor that is inserted into the TXV block to sense the temperature of the evaporator inlet refrigerant, and then an offset that is a guesstimation of the evaporator pressure drop to guess when the core is right above icing up. It also has a low side pressure switch that it can cycle with if the scroll compressor is spinning very fast. The problem you have (my guess here) is the design of this system. They have to set the temperature at which the thermistor will signal a cycle off fairly high so that at high cooling capacity situations your compressor will not cycle off when you really need the cooling. The compromise is that at very low cooling capacity situations (like you had) the cycling temperature will be quite a bit warmer than usual.



I think your Expedition is acting normally, (but when you say fast cycles, how fast??, I would guess you should be getting about 10 seconds of on time in that kind of ambient at idle) and I think it will cool very well this summer as long as you're moving. It has a large fixed scroll compressor with a very high drive ratio, and it will really cool well with engine speeds above idle. You may notice idle cooling performance is a little weak.



If this really bugs you, I don't think your Ford dealer will be able to fix it, but it should be their problem . You could disconnect the thermistor and rig up a thermistor that goes into the evap core (HOW IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE!!). There is a logic module on the TXV that reads the thermistor and either switches or grounds a logic line to the PCM. You could find the characteristics of the existing thermistor (resistance vs. temp), find the switichng points of the logic module, and then find a thermistor/resistor combination that will cycle the system when it should.



It cycles about every five seconds or so at idle, unless the fan is on high, then it stays on much longer. I really appreciate your detailed reply. You are obviously knowledgeable on this system. It makes me feel better that you may seem to think this is a normal thing for my particular A/C type. I have a neighbor that has a 2003 F-250 6.0 Diesel that I measured his A/C temp today. His compressor cycled fast too (not as fast as mine but I would say about 8-10 seconds on and off). His vent temperature was 41 degrees at idle where as mine was 45 degrees at idle. Maybe the difference was due to the fact that I have front AND rear air in my Expedition?? By the way, I did feel of the A/C pipe under the hood and it felt cold. Is there anything I can do specifically (without gauges) to tell if the freon is low or not? SOmething simple? Thanks again for your willingness to help me out!
 
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DetroitAC
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Fri February 20, 2004 8:31 AM
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You will not be able to detect a slight undercharge unless you can put a very high load on the system. If you've got the time, and an exhaust hose, you could let the car sit in the garage and get the garage good and hot, and then see how things perform. Or maybe drive down to Orlando? Or you could take it to an A/C shop and ask them to pull the charge (the charge cart will give a ballpark accurate charge weight) and recharge it.


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NickD
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Ha, the "buy something new and worry about it syndrome". Can't you just relax, turn on the TV and watch how much better your life would be if you purchased "xyz"?

Cycling at low temperatures in my opinion does nothing but wear out the clutch, not worth a darn for defrosting the windshield as cold air doesn't contain that much moisture and the compressor doesn't run long enough to remove any moisture anyway. On many vehicles the way the climate control is set up, when you switch to the defrost mode, the compressor is fired up. The only protection is when it gets cold enough outside so the internal pressures are so low, the cycling switch just can't switch in.

When I first got into my 2004 Cavalier, I said, oh boy, a compressor on/off switch on the climate control panel, although I had to take a two semester course in reading iconism first before I knew what it was. That meant I didn't have to add one or take the climate control apart and cut the compressor runs off the mode selector switch or add a switch of my own.

In theory at least, when the low side pressure drops below about 21 psi, the compressor should cut off, then the system pressures equalize and its that climb back to about 45 psi is when the compressor should switch on again. It's this climb rate that can be of concern as the only equalizing spot should be the orifice and not the reed valves inside the compressor if the climb rate is too high. Of course, a vehicle with a low charge would have the same symptoms. Then it's also the design of the system that affects the cycling rate at low temperatures. I feel it's best just to turn the darn thing off until it gets warm.

My DeVille didn't require any modifications, it has the Econ mode, but they also equipped this vehicle with an electronic timer that keeps the compressor off for a minute if someone pushes the Auto switch and they run the compressor for a full 15 seconds in those 33-60*F marginal temperature days.

How many cycles are you getting per minute? That includes a complete on/off cycle. TEV systems monitor the evaporator temperature as opposed to pure pressure cycling. As Detroit_AC suggested, you can modify yours, but maybe not until the warranty expires. Let it be Fords problem for now.

 
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Anonymous
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Fri March 05, 2004 7:01 PM
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**UPDATE**

Today, the outside temperature reached 76 degrees. Gotta love that for early March! Anyway, I got my gauge out and tested the vent temperatures again. The air at the vent only got down to 44 degrees. The compressor did indeed stay on longer (about 45 seconds to a minute before it cycled). The vent temperature was too high (am I correct?). I got in the Chevy and the temperature at the vent was upper 30's (37 to 39). At idle the Chevy was actually lower (35 degrees) than when it was going down the road but on the Expedition, the vent temperature was about 47 degrees at idle. Again, doing about 55 mph on the highway I was getting it down to 44. The dealership will look at it but they want to wait until it gets warmer to test it. I know this is under warranty and all but it is killing me not to know if this is normal. From the posts you fine gentlemen were so good to reply to me above states that this may be normal, but I am still concerned. Why did the vent temperature not drop below 47 degrees at idle (the compressor ran for a GOOD minute before cycling off at times). Opinions? Thanks a million!

 
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George Bray
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Fri March 05, 2004 7:22 PM
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I'm so concerned that my (15 year old) car's air con system doesn't cool well enough, that I'm going to take it apart and re-build/re-engineer it, double-checking all aspects of the design and set-up in the process. Any system is only as good as the weakest link.

Have you checked fundamental reasons why it may not cool as well as you would like? For example, a blocked condenser from something as absurd as protective wrapping, given that your vehicle is almost new. Or an electric condenser fan which is never seen to turn. Or flaps/valves which don't close fully to block off the flow of hot air from the heater matrix. Unlikely, perhaps, but worth checking.

Regards
George

 
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bohica2xo
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Detroit AC -
I really hope that you were not part of the design team responsible for my 2003 Explorer, which exhibits some of the same flaws.

The engineers responsible for the A/C system in this vehicle should be shot through both knees & both elbows. I have suffered through 1 summer and 9000 miles so far, and the "cure" for the problem is pretty extensive.

First the problem. Nearly non-existant A/C at engine speeds below 2600 rpm. In Las Vegas. It cycles at 45psi, with a 65psi cut in - way too much hysteresis. The fan clutch does not lock up untill the underhood temp crosses 210f, and then it unlocks around 185f.

You said "You may notice idle cooling performance is a little weak" - that is the understatement of the year. The scroll compressor has crappy low speed performance, and in the 4.0 explorer there is no way to swap pulleys and increase the speed. Apparently the A/C engineers did not check with the driveline boys. The transmission upshifts rabidly, and at 40 mph on level ground the engine speed is 1200~1300 rpm. You must select 2nd gear if you want to maintain compressor speed. Even then, the performance is sub-par due to the 45psi cut out - this piece of crap will cycle on a 90 degree day, with 60f vents.

The system effeciency is further compromised by the horrible suction line design. As near as I can measure, it is almost 9 feet long, for the DASHBOARD evaporator. Most of it in the hot air stream, some of it bolted to the engine block. A combination of 5 different rubber hoses, and 5 metal lines - that could be replaced by 3 feet of plumbing. I can only conclude that the designer received a huge kickback from the tube supplier.


The cure

1) Lock up the fan clutch assembly. Yes, it makes more noise. Yes it burns more fuel. Now however, the underhood temp is about 20f over ambient, and the underhood plastics and electronics should live longer.

2) Install a relay and timing circuit in the clutch circuit. This takes control authority away from the system for the first 10 minutes after startup, and keeps the compressor running. ( Yes Nick it is gated with thermal switch - it does not do this below 30c ambient)

With all of that, cooldown was greatly improved. But it still was awful at low speeds - 90% of this vehicle's use. Turning the O/D off has no effect below 50 mph either.

3) Increase engine speed. Since the transmissin shift pionts are controlled by the computer, there was only one answer. I swapped the ring & pinion gear sets out (there are 2, AWD explorer) to 4.56:1 ratios. This was a lot of work. 9 hours, and 600 bucks worth of parts.

My advice is if that Expedition won't meet your expectations, make them eat it. it is not worth the effort I put forth on this effing Explorer.

-------------------------
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.

 
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DetroitAC
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I was not part of the Explorer design process, but I do know that system somewhat.
Let's not shoot those engineers, Ford said they would use a scroll on the Explorer and that's what the engineers had to put in there.

For will likely not be putting anymore scrolls on their vehicles after about 2010 or so (some of the new ones like the 500 and Montego will be scrolls) because of the idle problems.

Your problem does seem very bad, but the system is not very similar to the Expedition. It should not be cycling off at 45psig, and cutting back in at 65psig. Something is wrong there. Your override for the first few minutes I would expect would cure the cycling problem, but you will not get it to cycle at the correct temperature all the time unless you fix the cycling controls.

I know that at some point the Explorer changed the suction line from having a right angle block manifold at the pump to two separate lines that enter the pump straight, and this made a good improvement to suction line pressure drop, don't know when that change was made.

Do you have a front only or an aux system Bohica2xo?



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bohica2xo
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Detroit AC -

It is a front only system. The cycling problem (according to the meatheads at the dealership) cannot be corrected or adjusted - "It is controlled by the computer". Since ford is going to eat every failure on this pig for the next 4 years while we are stuck with it, I did not want to make any mods that could not be swiftly removed. That is why my work-around is a "plug n' play" circuit - I did not look too carefully at the control system, since it was not working corectly anyway....

My wife took the Exploder to the dealer in July, to complain. The service writer parked the vehicle with a HUGE swamp cooler blowing across the nose at 45 degrees. He then turned the fan to LOW, and put his pocket dial thermometer in the center vent, and pointed out a 60 degree reading. He said to my wife:

" See 60 degrees! that is COLD! (makes shivering motion with arms crossed) You would not want the inside of your car to be 60, would ya? That would be waaaay too cold little lady"

This jerk is lucky his head is still connected to his torso.

Ok, so management said "you must use a total piece of crap for a compressor" Perhaps it is not entirely the engineers fault. So let the stupid SOB ride around in the back seat of this vehicle for the month of august, instead of shooting him. Then perhaps he will find his calculator when he specs pulleys.

The transmission people were not exactly scholars either. There is no dipstick on this model, you can't even check the fluid level without a set of special tools. This '03 explorer is on a par with the K car. What happend to Ford? I used to LIKE their cars...

-------------------------
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.

 
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NickD
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Sorry for my comment, but who is the stupid one? The ones that made the vehicle or the one that buys it? Ford was always my favorite vehicle, that is, until 1948.

 
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TRB
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Do not think we should be calling anyone stupid on this site. There is no way to know what restrictions were placed on the engineers over at Ford! We are above name calling on this site so lets make our points without personal expletives.

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NickD
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I don't mind admitting that I am stupid, but maybe I should have repharsed my response, didn't you test drive the vehicle first? Why did we, the American driving public let the price of vehicles increase in price over a factor of ten in the last 40 years. Why do we elect officials that don't even let us deduct the cost of our vehicles in the basic need of getting to work? Why do we bare the full impact of refrigerant recovery at the bottom of the ladder when no one else is doing it? Maybe we are too busy trying to make ends meet and not looking at the total picture.

Engineers use to be a powerful group in the USA, now we do what we are told to do, so they won't go somewhere else. We beat our brains against the wall and make billions for companies then when our jobs our finished we end up on the street without a dime in our pockets. I can't say the engineering professional is very smart in this respect, so if we are not smart, what are we?

 
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bohica2xo
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Nick:

When you test drive a vehicle in FEBURAURY it is difficult to predict that the engineering on the A/C was not done properly.

Tim:
I understand your desire to keep this site free from personal attacks. I do not know for a fact that the engineer was stupid, or a SOB. I do know that the result of his work was not acceptable as delivered. I apologize for a personal attack on an un-named individual.

I have no other forum for complaining about a poor product than word of mouth in this case. Ford says this vehicle is "fine", and "meets specifications". So the only way to keep others from buying junk like this (and by extension supporting poor engineering) is to let others know how bad the product is. I freely admit that I am passionate about this - it was 78f here yesterday, and I was sweating in this vehicle. Hopefully, anyonr searching the web for "explorer" or "expedition" and "poor A/C" will find this thread - And they can read for themselves where a detroit MVAC engineer say that they are poor coolers at low speeds, and that FORD KNOWS the scroll stinks in MVAC applications, and is abandoning it.

My advice to the man who starterd this thread - print everything here, and take it to the dealer.

-------------------------
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.

 
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TRB
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I have no problem with anyone expressing their opinions. Matter of fact I owned a 90 Ford F150 4x4 which I tried like heck to get them to buy back. Then there was the 95 Camaro Z28 which was in the shop 11 times in 12 months. Trust me when I say I have called these guys every name in the book at one point.

If Nick wants to call himself names he can do it all day along, I'll allow that! But would prefer we not have personal attacks about others even if justified!

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When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you: ACkits.com
Contact: Arizona Mobile Air

 
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bohica2xo
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Tim:

I will still have to call the service writer that insulted my wife a moron, but I can back that statement up.

On a more constructive note, is there no reasonable way to fix the cycling problem on that explorer?. I am unwilling to buy a full shop manual since I hate the car.

I removed the fan clutch lock this winter, and will not have time until saturday to re-install it. So, as I was sitting in traffic sweating this afternoon, I flipped it into neutral and stabbed the throttle. Letting the rev limiter hold the engine between 5800 & 6300, the vent temp dropped to about 60f. People in traffic look at you funny, but who cares, ford is buying the parts...

-------------------------
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.

 
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TRB
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No one should put up with someone out of line with a family member! Since the 2004 is still under warranty and information is not available yet from my sources I would wait ands see what DetroitAC has to say. One thing to consider is you are trying to cool a large area with a single system. Here in Arizona you would never cool that vehicle with a single system.

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NickD
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I felt pretty bad when I purchased my brand new 67 Mustang with major rust out starting when it was only 15 months old, the 12,000 mile one year warranty was expired and it was Ford's position at the time, tough luck. Trying to find out information on any new product is next to impossible in terms of reliability, Consumers Reports is worthless unless you want to read half an article with them complaining about the tire pressure being low on a new vehicle they purchased for testing, the other magazines are only interested in 0-60 mph times. The 80's CR reports on the Ford 3.8 and AXOD had nothing but praise for these cars, one of the major disasters of Ford's history with very expensive repair problems.

I suppose one alternative if other aspects of the Expedition are okay, is to look at this as a business opportunity and offer a decent AC kit or just keep on going back to the Ford dealer dailey with complaints then writing countless letters working your way up to the top. Somehow you just can return a vehicle for a full refund like buying some worthless appliance from X-Mart.

 
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bohica2xo
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Tim:

You say that you would not expect a single system to cool. This is interesting. In 1973, while living in AZ, I bought a new LTD Station Wagon. It cooled the whole car well with the dash air - in fact, the A/C rarely ran on high or recirculate. I put 60k miles on that car, and never worked on the A/C - or much of anything else either. Now we seem to need dual air, and the vent temps are higher - which leads to the general "feeling" that 134a does not cool as well, something I keep hearing. Even from people that SHOULD know better, I hear things like, "Oh that new freon just does not get as cold."
My '93 F150 is one of the very last R12 vehicles. It has a fin & tube condensor, and a SD708 compressor - it was dealer installed "factory" air, and has hose clamps on the hoses. It will pull 39f vent temps (on high blower) on a 115f day, and on the 6 mile drive home after all day in the sun it gets cold enough to turn the fan down at mile 4.

So what changed, and when? The Explorer has a device screwed into the suction line where a cycling switch should be, but ford tells me this is a "sensor" and cannot be adjusted. The condensor on the explorer looks like a really nice unit, and it is big. The whole radiator / condensor / trans cooler package is well thought out, easy to clean, and shold transfer heat very well - if the fan actually ran occasionally.


Nick:

The Explorer is leased, through my employer. The company pays a substantial part of the lease, the insurance, and the consumables (tires, brakes, fuel, batteries etc.) They roll the vehicles at four years, or 60k miles. The down side to this deal is the vehicle choices. Since they are fleet leases, all I get to pick is the color. The company insists on AWD. Since they pay the fuel, I don't mind the AWD. Changing the final drive gears did make it a lot more fun to drive, and fixed the low speed A/C - but it still sucks at idle. The rest of the vehicle is pretty good, but it is hard to see that when you are sweating in traffic, on the way to see a client. I considered swapping the compressor out, but it would void the warranty. There is no room for a larger crankshaft pulley, and the compressor pulley is the smallest one available. I think fixing the suction line might help, but again the warranty.... I put ford gears in the differentials, so the warranty is ok there.

-------------------------
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.

 
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TRB
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You have a lot more window and overall area in this vehicle than that old station wagon. R134a when used correctly will cool as well as R12 there is no doubt about that! I don't like the cycling times times listed. What are the pressure readings at idle and 1500 rpm? I would really like to know what they are after the engine has created lots of heat under the hood and is idling. I have a feeling you are going to see a high pressure issue which is a concern with those 6mm condensers Fords likes to say that work as well as true parallel flow models. Since these vehicles are still under warranty we have not seen any in our shop at this point. At this time Mitchell online does lists any information on this vehicle either.

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When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you: ACkits.com
Contact: Arizona Mobile Air

 
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DetroitAC
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I've looked at Explorer data, and talked to people who own them, and I'm still saying the idle performance is a little weak, but it should be quite respectable when moving. It is not far away from the very best that Ford makes (Jaguar S-type, 90cc scroll), and certainly much better than the Expedition, although the Aviator is better due to having a TXV and better cooling module airflow. I think what you are getting is entirely out of character for the Explorer, and we should be able to fix it. I am as frustrated as you are with shifty dealers...

They were toying with the idea of low side sensor to protect against low suction pressures in very high load, very high RPM situations, but I think they did not do it, and it is a plain old cycling switch. Let me double check that... , but I definitely think you should start looking there. I'll give you any info you need.

I don't know when the change went in, but current Explorers have a parallel flow micro channel condenser.

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Tue March 09, 2004 11:55 AM
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My Visteon disk only goes to 2002 but does show a parallel flow style condenser being used in the 02 model. If that is the case pressure should be okay as long as there is not an overcharge. Still would help to know the pressure readings and a consistent cycle point. Sounds like DetroitAC is on top of this so hopefully we can find a solution.

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NickD
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Joined: Oct 2001

Tue March 09, 2004 12:07 PM
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Except I thought this thread was on an Expedition and not an Explorer.

 
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