Question about 2000 Pontiac Grand Am GT

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Intermittent cold air on a 2001 Grand Am GT (3400 engine)

I bought a 2001 Grand Am GT from a used dealer about a month ago (as is - did not have extra cash for warranty) and now the AC has been going haywire. It worked fine this past Saturday night, got into the car the next day and it did not come on at all. I tried putting the knobs in different positions, and it seems like the compressor comes on when the AC switch is pressed. The RPM gauge kicks up for a second, then goes back down, but no dice. So for two days, no cold air in 90+ Georgia weather. Yuck!

So, a funny thing happened on the way to work today... the fan was blowing to alleviate the humidity (not realizing it was set to Max AC; my nephew tinkered with the car trying to fix it) while I was driving and all of a sudden I'm getting cold air. The AC button was *not* on, but the fan was set to Max. When I turned it to the bi-level setting, the AC turned off but my fan was still kicking.

I've spoken with a couple of people and they mentioned that it might be a relay or something. My biggest fear was the compressor, but if I am getting cold air out of the blue then it must be working... right? I was hoping someone might have a better idea of what may be causing the problem. I was thinking it might have been the AC button, yet moving it from Max to bi-level doesn't seem to support that theory. Any suggestions?

Thanks so much for reading my long-winded explanation!

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  • a_burgin Jun 23, 2009

    Wow! You guys are awesome! Thank you so much for the fast replies! To clarify...



    My nephew's tinkering basically just involved turning the knobs in different positions and checking to see if the compressor was coming on. My boyfriend had a charge kit from his Firebird (that did not fix his problem) which he ended up not using, so my nephew tried to use it on my car. The hose did not fit the coupling on my car, so we figured maybe a piece was missing. He tried to use the opening on the line at the front of the car; it sticks up from the top of the AC line. But after mentioning this to my boyfriend, he said that some cars have more than one place used to fill it up.



    Thanks to your helpful advice, my new plan is to go by Advanced and get some compressor oil and ask them if they can check the pressure for me. At least now I have a head start on the problem, and feel relieved knowing it could be something pretty simple. I've never had a car with AC, so it nearly killed me when it went out. :D



    I am curious, though, as to why it came on when I did not have the AC button activated. Does the Max fan setting blow AC regardless of the button? Obviously, I'm new to some of these new-fangled gadgets. :-)



    I have a couple of other questions and now that I know of a valuable resource, I'll post them here. One of them is about the engine temperature and another is for the keyless entry. I really appreciate all of your help! I will let you know what happens at the parts store.



    Amy

  • a_burgin Jun 24, 2009

    Since we already had the R134a + (does the plus matter?) around the house, I decided to see if my nephew could charge it for me. He's pretty handy with cars, but none of us are experts (obviously).



    But, no luck so far. I think we may have been confused about which one was the line to the AC. My nephew found a coupling in the back of the engine (towards the dashboard) and checked the pressure on it. It was at 100psi. He tried to add more but it was not taking; the hose coming from the can worked fine. I'm going to take it to the parts store tomorrow and see if they can give me a hand. I don't have a problem taking it to a car shop, but I'd rather have an idea of what *could* be wrong with it before I get an estimate. If it's something that can be fixed around here, then that's great. At the same time, I hate to go messing with something like this and cause even more problems. It looks like we may be out of our league here. Even for something so simple. :D



    I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the helpful information you have given me. It's great to know that there are people who have knowledge and are willing to help others. When I get some more time tomorrow evening, I'll post the other questions I have. All the best to you!



    Amy

  • a_burgin Jun 24, 2009

    Well, even more bad news. The blower fan never really worked on 1 and 2, but as I was driving back to work from lunch today, I turned down the gravel driveway (which is a small bump, nothing that *should* be major) and the blower shut off at setting 3. I turned it to 4 and 5 and it works fine, but will not come back on at 3.



    Another issue (that I was going to post separately, but not sure if it matters here) is that the car has been overheating a bit. Since I bought it, it's run right at 200 degrees, but lately it's been creeping above that. It doesn't go anywhere near the danger zone yet it has me concerned.



    I'm still going to take it to a shop (probably on Friday) because it seems like it's been running a little rough. I've been singing the praises of both of you to my boyfriend, and he wanted me to ask you if there where the relay for the air system is located. Since the blower stopped working, we are thinking there might be an electrical issue. After reading both of your posts, I realized that we messed up last night by not turning the AC on after the can was hooked up. I might still try that this evening, though I don't see why that would explain the blower going on the fritz.



    At this point, I am venting though I would appreciate it if you had any more thoughts on the situation. Even though I knew buying a used car would give me trouble down the line, I did not expect it to happen so soon. The car only had 60k miles when I bought it. I was hoping for at least 6 months of trouble-free driving. :D Again, thank you so much!



    Amy

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  • Pontiac Master
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When you say tinker with the A/C. what did he do??? Just want to make sure he did not hot wire anything to activate the compressor at the max position. If the system is low on compressor oil the compressor will not active to keep it from getting damage or low on R143A. Most place now will recharge the A/C system for $50.00 since they know that you can by a recharge kit for around the same price, but you need make sure you don't over charge the system or damage will occur. If you not familiar with the recharge procedure, have it recharged by a shop and if it's full then the problem may be a  pressure switch and that takes around 5 min to replace and i am sure the shop will let you know before they try to recharge the system by hooking up the gauges to read the pressure in the system. Good luck and keep me posted, be glad to help you get some cold air again. 

Posted on Jun 23, 2009

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  • Harvey N Tawatao
    Harvey N Tawatao Jun 23, 2009

    The A/C has two ports. There is the high side and the low side, you recharge on the low side and that is a bigger valve coupling then the high side. Placing the R143a recharge can on the high side can kill someone if the can explodes. The low side when full charged should be 30psi to 50 psi and the high side should be 150psi to 200psi. Any other readings will have poor a/c performance and anything higher then  the numbers i gave you can damage the system. You A/C should come on when you have your defroster on and of course when it's on your Max A/C. and if you like to have it on the floor only or vent it will not come on unless you hit the a/c over ride to activate it so you can have A/C on those settings Make sure you buy R143a, the compressor oil is mixed in with the recharge can. If you are loosing the A/C then you have a leak and need to have it addressed, it may be a bad O ring along the line or a bad seal in the compressor. Just make sure you do not over charge the system. Keep me posted.

  • Harvey N Tawatao
    Harvey N Tawatao Jun 24, 2009

    If the system has the right amount of R143a in the system, you could also have a bad A/C pressure switch. it's what controls the A/C compressor to cycle on and off so it will not get to hot and become damaged. The pressure switch is along the low pressure line or at the accumulator (Air Dryer), it looks like a silver cylinder about the size of two coke cans put together where the A/C line goes in to. The switch looks like a plug with two wires clipped on to it, check to make sure the wires are not broken or the clip is not loose. Good luck and the low pressure service port should have a cap on it with a L on top to indicate that it is the low side. Here is a link that will turn you in to an expert A/C Amy. keep up the great work and be safe friend. http://www.cyberbright.com/autobin/air_c...

  • Harvey N Tawatao
    Harvey N Tawatao Jun 24, 2009

    No problem to big that you can and your boyfriend can't handle, The Blower speed only working on 4 and 5 is a 30 min fix with simple tools and $40.00 for the part. The part that has gone bad is the Blower speed resistor, as long as the blower works on #5 everything is good. It's common for the resistors to go bad since there under lots of heat due to current flow to the blower. Auto Zone sell the blower resistor for $40.00 and they will have the step by step instruction to getting the job done i'ld post it but it but there are other question i need to answer for you. As for you engine running hot o the gauge, that's average for the hot summer days and the thermostat can be a pain to replace if you have larger hands but that's another story. Best thing for now since you have a new car and your not the first owner, i'm going to think that the radiator Antifreeze has not been serviced. Flush out the old Antifreeze with and  the heater on the highest setting, which is the best way, but if the money is tight. Just drain the Antifreeze radiator from the drain plug at the bottom of the radiator on the drivers side and refill with a 50/50 premixed Antifreeze. I believe you have the Orange antifreeze so that's good for 150,000 miles or 5 years be for needing replacement. Just make sure it's 50/50 (antifreeze/water) if you have to mix it your self. 100% antifreeze will gel up when heated causing the engine to run hotter then it should. Keep me posted, be glad to help. Oh and the 3.4 has a bad history of the intake manifold gasket to go bad so try not to run the engine to hard till it reaches the opperatiing temprature. 

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  • Pontiac Master
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You should start by getting a AC refill kit from Walmart or almost any parts store. It's probably just not charged enough, and the low pressure switch isn't allowing it to come on all the time, depending on the day.

Posted on Jun 23, 2009

  • Dar
    Dar Jun 24, 2009

    The one you're looking for should have a blue cap, and be on an air conditioniong line. Your hose can't go on the wrong one, make sure you puncture the can after it's been hooked up. You screw the valve all the way in, and then all the way out, and then hold it upside down. Have the air turned on and the engine running. Good luck.

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