How do I change the AC Compressor on a 1996 Chevy Silverado K1500 V8 350 5.7L?

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PHASE 1 - Vehicle Preparation 1) Have the system emptied of all excess refrigerants at an auto shop. Most reputable mechanics will do this for free. 2) Disconnect the positive wire (red) on the battery. 3) Remove the front grill assembly from the vehicle. There are for screws holding it on. The left and right screws will need a 9/32 or 7mm socket. The two middle screws require a Phillips head screwdriver. All four screws are located near the top of the grill. The bottom of the grill is held in by clips and should slide out with little effort. 4) Disconnect the six light harness clips from the grill. You can take the bulbs out if you'd like, our just safely tuck the harness and bulbs out of the way. 5) Remove the left (passenger side) headlight assembly using a 10mm socket. It has 4 screws holding it onto the vehicle. Disconnect both harnesses and tuck them away for safe keeping. NOTE: Removing the headlight will provide you the best access to the Orifice Tube Filter later. 6) If your vehicle is equipped with a retractable courtesy light assembly, remove it to gain clear access to the Accumulator. There are two 9/32 screws that hold the assembly onto the fire wall. Disconnect the power supply harness and remove the assembly. 7) There are four sensor harnesses that must be disconnected. a. Accumulator/Drier = Pressure Cut-Off Switch b. Hose Assembly = Clutch Cycling Switch c. Compressor (Back) = Cut-Off Switch d. Compressor (Front) = Cut-Off Switch 8) Using the standard ¾" ratchet from your socket set, loosen the belt tension pulley. It is located behind the cooling fan to the left. It is not necessary to completely remove the belt, merely un-loop the compressor side. NOTE: It is always a good idea to jot down a drawing of how the belt runs in case you forget later. PHASE 2 - Hose Assembly Removal 1) Remove the 15mm screw in the center of the hose assembly, located directly on top of the compressor. It may be necessary to un-clip the throttle cables from the nearby bracket to remove the compressor, so you can do this now. If you need to, use a screwdriver to help you pry the assembly from the compressor. NOTE: have a rag handy, because there might still be pressure in the system and oil can spray out. 2) Using 1 1/16" wrench and an adjustable wrench, remove the Accumulator from the evaporator tube protruding from the firewall. NOTE: Unless you are having trouble gaining access to the back of the Accumulator, it is not necessary to remove the Hose Assembly from the Accumulator. 3) The front hose of the Assembly passes thru the front of the vehicle and attaches to the upper tube of the condenser. Using a 20mm wrench and an adjustable wrench, disconnect the tube. 4) You can now remove the Hose Assembly from the truck. NOTE: You may need to remove the lower connection on the condenser before you can slide the Hose Assembly thru the opening. PHASE 3 - Orifice Tube Filter Removal 1) If you have not disconnected the lower tube on the condenser, use a 20mm wrench and adjustable wrench to do so now. 2) The Orifice Tube Filter is located inside of the tube stem protruding from the bottom of the condenser. If the tube is not bent or otherwise damaged, the Orifice Tube Filter should slide out with some effort. If the Orifice Tube Filter will not come out easily, gently pull using needle nose pliers. NOTE: There is a specific Orifice Tube Filter Tool, but I have not had much luck using it in the past. WARNING: If the Orifice Tube Filter breaks, it is possible to drill the tube out. This takes time and should be done carefully. Be sure to use your air compressor on the top tube of the condenser to blow out any shavings and debris before closing the system. In the past, I have had to drill out the Orifice Tube Filter and I gradually increased drill bit sizes until I was able to "hook" the Filter and slide it out. My "hook" was made from a long carpenter nail that I filed to a thin point on a grinding wheel. I used a set of needle nose pliers to curve the point like a fishing hook. After drilling out the center of the Orifice Tube Filter, I inserted the "hook", turned it a ¼ turn and pulled out the Filter. I suggest using the needle nose pliers to grip the "hook". Remember to use the air compressor to blow out any remaining shavings or debris. WARNING: Only blow air from the top tube of the condenser. 3) If it was difficult to remove the Orifice Tube Filter, chances are it will be difficult to re-insert the tube later. PHASE 4 - Compressor Removal 1) Using a 13mm socket wrench, remove the four bolts on top of the compressor. Lift the compressor from the mounting bracket. NOTE: Be sure to hold the compressor upright when carrying from the vehicle because there will be oil inside of the compressor. PHASE 5 - Flush & Clean 1) I use an aerosol Flush & Clean solution from the auto parts store. Follow the instructions on the can. NOTE: If you can plug the lower tube on the condenser and plug the lower tube line from the evaporator, you can flush the two units separately. This also allows you to use a small bucket to catch the flushing agent when you release it from the units. Be sure to use compressed air to help remove the flush from the system. You can pour the used flushing agent into a graduated cylinder to measure how much you recovered. Expect to recover the entire flushing agent (minus 1 oz.). NOTE: Dispose of the flushing agent in accordance with federal law. PHASE 6 - Compressor Preparation 1) Turn the compressor upright and locate the snap ring on the bottom. Remove this using a pair of snap ring pliers. 2) Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the plug from the compressor. 3) Discard the loose o-ring that is under the plug. 4) Insert the Clutch Cut -Off sensor. 5) Re-install the snap ring. 6) Lay the compressor down so the two holes are upright. Pour 4 oz. (half of the 8 oz. container) of PAG 150 Oil into the compressor. Use a funnel in the side of the compressor with the larger opening. 7) Turn the compressor on end so the clutch is on bottom. Allow to stand for at least 3 minutes for the PAG Oil to coat the inside of the compressor. PHASE 6 - Orifice Tube Filter Install 1) Using a little bit of PAG Oil, coat the o-ring on the new Filter. 2) Insert the Filter into the lower tube of the condenser. NOTE: The Orifice Tube Filter Tool will assist in pushing it into the tube. 3) Be sure to insert the Filter deep enough otherwise the connecting tube will not seat properly. NOTE: Do not attach the hose until you have attached the new Hose Assembly to the upper tube of the condenser. PHASE 7 - Accumulator/Drier Preparation 1) Attach the new Pressure Cut-Off sensor to the Accumulator. NOTE: Be sure to install the new o-ring that comes with the new switch. 2) Connect the new Hose Assembly to the Accumulator. NOTE: The new Hose Assembly will normally have all the new o-rings already installed on it from the manufacturer. 3) Pour the remaining PAG 150 Oil into the remaining opening on the Accumulator. NOTE: Be sure to put the temporary plug back on the Accumulator until you are ready to install the Accumulator. PHASE 8 - Compressor Installation 1) Place the Compressor on the mounting bracket. 2) Using a 13mm socket wrench, install the four bolts. 3) Re-loop the belt over the pulley and properly tension the entire belt using the tension pulley as before. 4) Attach the two sensor harnesses, front and back. NOTE: Attaching the back sensor harness before bolting the compressor may make this task easier. PHASE 9 - Hose Assembly and Accumulator/Drier Installation 1) Check the Hose Assembly mounting bracket to make sure the compression rings have been installed by the manufacturer. If not, install them onto the bracket - not on the Compressor. 2) Install the bracket onto the Compressor using the bolt and a 15mm socket wrench. NOTE: It is recommended to use a torque wrench to properly tighten the bolt. Refer to the manufacturer for the torque lbs needed. 3) Attach the sensor harness to the new switch on the Hose Assembly. 4) Place the Accumulator into the mounting bracket on the fire wall. Using the 1 1/16" wrench and adjustable wrench, tighten the compression fitting. NOTE: Be sure to use a new o-ring. 5) Attach the sensor harness to the new switch on the Accumulator. 6) Pass the front hose thru the opening in the vehicle and attach the hose to the upper tube on the condenser. 7) Attach the remaining hose onto the lower tube of the condenser. NOTE: Be sure to use a new o-ring. PHASE 10 - Vacuum Pump & Manifold Test Gauge 1) Using the Manifold Test Gauge, connect into the system on the high and low sides. 2) Use the remaining hose from the Test Gauge to connect to the Vacuum Pump. 3) Follow the instructions for the pump and test gauge. 4) If you cannot evacuate out enough air from the system to reach 28-29 Hg, there is a leak somewhere in the system. Turn off the pump and tighten all the fittings again. PHASE 11 - Charging the System with Refrigerant 1) If you are using 12 oz. cans of 134a Refrigerant, you will most likely need 6 cans. A seventh can is a good idea to have on hand in case of a previously undetected leak. 2) Follow the instructions from the manufacturer for proper charging procedures. NOTE: At this point, the vehicle can be re-assembled and driven to a professional A/C Technician so they can charge the system. 3) Be sure to put a Test Thermometer inside a vent in the interior of the vehicle. A good operating temperature is about 40-45 degrees (Fahrenheit). 4) Before charging the system, the vehicle must be running and the A/C turned on to the highest setting. NOTE: The clutch will not engage until there is a minimum charge on the system. Usually this takes about 2-2 ½ cans of refrigerant (12 oz.). PHASE 12 - Vehicle Re-Assembly 1) Reverse steps 1-6 in PHASE 1.
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