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How to Replace the AC Compressor in a Pontiac Firebird

by Chris Moore

The air conditioning compressor is one of the main components in your Pontiac Firebird's AC system. One of the key signs of a compressor that needs to be replaced is a loud buzzing sound. Because of its high pressure and environmental regulations involving freon refrigerant, you need to use extreme caution when replacing this or working on any other component of the air conditioning system. It's a good idea to talk with an automotive air conditioning technician about specific details on how the compressor is connected and the type of refrigerant used.

Removal

Take your Firebird to an automotive repair shop that has a licensed air conditioning technician who can properly discharge the refrigerant according to EPA regulations.

Disconnect the car's battery by loosening and removing the negative cable with an insulated wrench.

Rotate the drive belt tensioner, typically located on the smallest pulley, clockwise with a ratchet and socket then slip the belt off its pulleys. Slowly release the tensioner and remember the exact pattern the belt followed. (The belt routing diagram is located on the radiator support; if it's missing, sketch the routing before removing the belt.)

Raise the car with a jack and support it on jack stands.

Clean off all the fittings for the refrigerant lines at the compressor--the canister-like device on the air conditioner with the drive belt pulley on it--with shop rags then disconnect the fittings with a wrench along with the electrical connector for the compressor.

Remove the bolts for the compressor's front bracket with the wrench then lower the compressor from the engine.

Pour the refrigerant oil from the compressor into a graduated container to measure its amount.

Installation

Pour fresh refrigerant oil--the same amount used in the old compressor--into the replacement compressor.

Install the compressor into its bracket and tighten the bolts with the wrench.

Reconnect the refrigerant lines and electrical connector, using a new seal on the refrigerant line fitting lubricated with refrigerant oil.

Lower the car from the jack stands with the jack and reinstall the drive belt onto its pulleys using the tensioner. Refer to the diagram on the radiator support or your sketch to make sure you route the belt along the correct path.

Reconnect the battery cable and take the Firebird to the automotive shop to have its AC system evacuated and recharged.

Tip

  • You need refrigerant oil specifically designed for your car's AC system; most cars use R134a while only a few remaining older models use R12. Check your Firebird's manual or talk with your mechanic.

Items you will need

References

About the Author

Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.

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