How to Replace the AC Compressor on a Subaru Forester

by Eli Laurens

Subaru Foresters use an air conditioning compressor to push freon coolant through a series of lines to an evaporator and condenser. This system dries and cools the interior of the SUV. The compressor can fail for numerous reasons, and must be replaced. The average backyard mechanic can replace the compressor in a Forester in about an hour.

Step 1

Remove all freon from the air conditioning system by evacuating it with professional equipment. Most garages and oil change facilities will evacuate the freon for free, as they get compensated for collecting it. Never vent the system into the atmosphere, because it could harm the environment.

Step 2

Disconnect the power system by turning the battery's positive terminal bolt counterclockwise. Set the loose terminal wire aside.

Step 3

Remove the freon coolant lines by turning the line nuts at the compressor counterclockwise, then pulling them from the openings. Check the gaskets in the line nuts for cracking or corrosion.

Step 4

Press the tension pulley arm firmly to slide the primary drive belt out from underneath the idle pulley, then release the tension pulley arm. The belt will slacken enough to remove it from the compressor pulley wheel.

Step 5

Remove the compressor by disconnecting it from the wiring harness (pull the adapter plug from the terminal) and turning the compressor mount bolts counterclockwise. Slide the bolts out of the mount arms, and pull the compressor out of the Forester.

Step 6

Replace the compressor by positioning it into the mounts and sliding the bolts into place. Turn the bolts clockwise, then connect the adapter plug to the terminal. Reattach the freon lines by turning the line nuts clockwise into the openings on the compressor.

Step 7

Wrap the drive belt around the compressor pulley wheel, groove side down. Press the tension pulley arm and slide the belt underneath the idle pulley, then release the tension pulley arm. The belt will tighten around the engine components. Reconnect the positive terminal bolt on the battery to restore power to the vehicle.

Step 8

Refill the system with freon by using a home kit, or take the vehicle to the same shop that evacuated the system in order to have it refilled. Freon does not get "used up," so freon can be recycled. It is not recommended that a home kit be used, even though it may be cheaper, because the equipment tends to be cheap and unsafe.

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