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A mechanic would check the system with a set of pressure gauges. If the compressor is running, the low side would read around 30psi and the high side would be around 250psi. That is how you know if the system is full of freon or not. You may have to get a professional diagnosis to proceed. If you replace the compressor, the accumulator needs to be replaced and a vac pump is used to pull all of the air out before the freon is added.
On this year Buick the AC compressor front shaft seal is prone to leaks and this allows the R134 refrigerant to leak by the seal, with no charge the compressor will not run, the system is lubricated by oil that mixes with the refrigerant, no charge and no lubrication, so the system turns the compressor off. You can replace the compressor fairly cheap (less than $100.00) by buying a rebuilt one on eBay, I did this with my Century last year and so far so good. The compressor comes out through the right front wheel well after the plastic liner is removed.
The car will run fine until the compressor locks up. When the compressor locks up, it will burn up the belt and cause it to break. When that happens the car will lose power steering, alternator, water pump, and so on. That is why the dealership doesn't want her to drive it. The dealership however can not make her leave the car there. It is your mothers choice what she does with it. I know you can find a small garage around town that can do the same job and do it cheaper. You will need to replace the compressor as soon as possible. Also have the shop replace the oriffice tube and the accumulator. That way you can get your full warranty. I have replaced several compressors and the other items mentioned and that fixed the problem. Like I said, you can most likely get it done cheaper elsewhere. The dealership is out to get your money more than repairing your car. I hope that this was helpful. Let me know something please.
Check out this link: http://www.autozone.com/addVehicleId,1602402/initialAction,repairGuide/shopping/repairGuide.htm?pageId=0900c152800cc1e1. This is for a 6 cylinder in your year. This gives you the specs for all of the bolts associated with the crankshaft damper. Good Luck!