Ford Explorer engine woes
February 27, 2008 4:22 PM   Subscribe

CarFilter: identify this part from my car (highlighted in red) -- It started smoking on the way home, and I'm wondering how scared my wallet is feeling.

It doesn't seem to have any operational effect on the car-- starts fine, runs fine, so I'm thinking it might be related to the A/C which died somewhat recently.

So if you're a motor-mefite, name that part and put my wallet out of it's misery.

posted by Static Vagabond to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Um, year of car and make and model, please.
posted by HeyAllie at 4:23 PM on February 27, 2008

Dang preview - I see the header.
posted by HeyAllie at 4:24 PM on February 27, 2008

Best answer: That looks like the A/C compressor to me. They can be expensive-ish to replace. I'd call a couple mechanics and ask them how much it'd cost for the job.
posted by zsazsa at 4:30 PM on February 27, 2008

I had to replace the A/C compressor on my Honda Civic... $700+.
posted by clh at 4:36 PM on February 27, 2008

Pfft, yank it, go to a junkyard and buy a replacement for like $50. You could probably do it yourself in an hour if you wanted to.
posted by elendil71 at 4:39 PM on February 27, 2008

Yeah, AC compressor. They're clutch-driven, and that clutch or its solenoid failing can cause problems, which aren't always entirely expensive to fix. If you have to replace the whole compressor it's a pain. They can be found cheapish at junkyards, but you have to vent and refill the system to do it.
posted by mragreeable at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2008

I have a Ranger with the same 4.0l engine. That red part appears to be the power steering pump. Do you hear a lot of noise when you turn your wheel all the way to the left or right (while stopped)?

The wheel to the left and above is the A/C compressor. A power steering pump replacement shouldn't be more than a few hundred dollars.

That fluid reservoir above the red part is full of power steering fluid. Most likely, the reservoir is leaking onto a hot engine part, causing the smoke you are seeing. It may be a simple matter of tightening up a hose clamp to stop the leak.

Replacing the pump is a reasonably easy job, but if you have no experience it might be better to take it to a mechanic. The worst case scenario is that you reinstall the belt wrong and end up stranded on the road. I did this once. It didn't damage the engine, but I had to get a tow.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 4:42 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, it's definitely the A/C Compressor from looking at some part-stores on line, could certainly be worse.

Thanks again.
posted by Static Vagabond at 4:44 PM on February 27, 2008

With all due respect, it's not an A/C compressor, but a power steering pump as Uncle Jimmy said.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:49 PM on February 27, 2008

Your part looks a lot like the power steering unit on older F-150s. I think Uncle Jimmy's got it.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:02 PM on February 27, 2008

Response by poster: I just took another picture, not sure if it's much clearer. But from the little I know, number 1 is the starter motor, 2 is the idler, underneath 2 is the waterpump.
If zsazas is right, 3 is the power steering unit, and 4 is the A/C compressor, underneath 2 is the water pump. If Uncle Jimmy is right, 3 would be the A/C and 4 the power steering.

The little tank of steering fluid on the top of four, looks like it runs into part 3. From the back of this part 4 comes a pipe that leads to the very front of the car (to I'm assuming a radiator of some description?).
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:27 PM on February 27, 2008

Best answer: The simple pulley (3) drives the power steering pump, which always turns. The pulley with the clutch in the middle (4) can engage and disengage, to drive the air conditioning compressor or leave it undriven. The red part, 4, is the A/C compressor.

1 is the alternator, btw. (The starter is longer and lacks vents, and is usually on the underside of the engine, where it can shove its drive gear in to engage the flywheel.)

Anyway, if you're feeling a loss of power, then it's likely that the clutch seized and the compressor is eating energy as you drive, which means further mechanical failure is imminent, and you should replace it immediately. The possibility of a stopped pulley leading to a shredded belt is also one I'd suggest you should avoid.

But if there's no loss of power (or if you can remove the belt and the A/C pulley spins easily enough by hand) then it's just idling along and you're unlikely to do any harm by just leaving it for a few months, until the lack of cabin cooling wins the battle of wills versus your wallet.

There's another possibility, which is that the bearings could be going, meaning that it'd be mechanically okay-ish in the short term but at some random point in the future, the pulley's axis will no longer be perpendicular to the belt's plane, and it will throw or shred the belt. I've seen this several times when power steering pump bearings fail, never on a compressor, but this is a Ford so anything's possible. (heh, heh...)
posted by Myself at 5:41 PM on February 27, 2008

elendil71 writes "Pfft, yank it, go to a junkyard and buy a replacement for like $50. You could probably do it yourself in an hour if you wanted to."

It's a serious offence to vent the refrigerant to the atmosphere in both Canada and the US so make sure you get the system pumped down before you start disconnecting hoses. Also it being a ford you'll probably need a special tool to disconnect the lines from the A/C.
posted by Mitheral at 6:02 PM on February 27, 2008

And then you'll have to get the refrigerant pumped back in, if you want the AC to work. The refrigerant is ammonia-based, and you don't want to play with it. All in all, it's not a one-hour procedure for a novice.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:31 AM on February 28, 2008

I'd like to also suggest you get a decent repair manual for it too. That will define the steps needed to do the repair.
posted by Big_B at 8:48 AM on February 28, 2008

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