Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.
The Lexus ES300 is a rock-solid automobile based off the Toyota Camry chassis that shares the same V6 engine (1MZ-FE). But nothing lasts forever, and the air conditioner compressor clutch on this customer's '99 ES300 finally wore out and seized, which is typical on high-mileage cars.
I could have just replaced the clutch, but the customer wanted a new compressor, even though a new replacement electromagnetic clutch is around half the price of a new compressor.
Factoring in the age of this vehicle, I convinced him to replace the A/C condenser (the thing that looks like a radiator mounted in front of the radiator) as well as the compressor, since it's made of aluminum, and oxidation might have taken its toll on the aluminum cooling fins.
Since there was no refrigerant leak in the system, the A/C accumulator with its desiccant crystals did not require replacement.
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A word of caution before deciding to just replace the compressor. If a compressor fails and you want to submit a warranty claim to the manufacturer, you have to provide proof that the compressor was replaced with either a new or certified cleaned condenser, accumulator, and expansion valve. Since the compressor's failure was not internal, I felt no need to replace the accumulator and expansion valve, and I decided to take the risk that the compressor would not fail during its warranty period. This is one reason why I only purchase OE (original equipment) Denso brand compressors and condensers. Beside, replacing the expansion valve would mean tearing the dash apart to get to it ... and I didn't think the customer would be amenable to the labor cost of that.
After replacing all these A/C parts, I pulled a vacuum to evacuate moisture out of the system with an A/C vacuum pump, then charged the system with new R134a refrigerant.
The entire process took me around 3.5 hours.
Video: A/C Compressor & Condenser Replacement - Lexus ES300
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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