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VW MKIV-A4 TDIs (VE and PD) This is a general discussion about A4/MkIV Jetta (99.5-~2005), Golf(99.5-2006), and New Beetle(98-2006). Both VE and PD engines are covered here.

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Old May 16th, 2018, 12:14   #1
starjays
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Default AC Compressor and heater core done at the same time?

My AC compressor has failed and I've been quoted $1,800 to replace it and the air conduits that are now evidently filled with little metal shards from the failed compressor.

I've done some reading and it appears that the heater core is also something that's known to fail on these cars, resulting in labor-intensive replacement work.

My question is, would it be a decent idea to have them replace the heater core preemptively while they're doing the air conduit replacement? I ask this because I assume the dash has to be taken apart to complete both repairs and I'd just as soon only have to pay to have the dash apart once, if at all possible.

Any advice?
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Old May 16th, 2018, 12:22   #2
oilhammer
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It would certainly help if we knew what car you were talking about.

If it is a Beetle, the failure mode of the compressor would determine what if any other pieces should get replaced.

Heater cores are less of a failure spot as the HVAC case foam coming apart, both of which require dash removal, neither of which really have any direct relation to a compressor failure, aside from the system will get sucked down for the HVAC case/heater core job.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 12:50   #3
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Maybe he was really referring to the evaporator being replaced due to the metal shards and should he go ahead and get a new heater core change out while that is being done.

It would seem to me that replacing the evaporator is unnecessary. The mechanic has to do is flush the lines with solvent and high volume of air and replace the components like the condensor and expansion valve.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 13:08   #4
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Yeah, I agree. I do not see any stuff getting through the condenser, drier, then expansion valve, only to end up in the evaporator.

But, when we replace the HVAC cases, the evaporator comes with it, along with a new expansion valve. But again, different issue.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 13:32   #5
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Sorry, was talking about the 2000 Beetle. The mechanic did not go into specifics regarding the $1,800 tab to get my A/C running again, other than to show me the metal panels with the little conduits running through them that he said are now filled with metal fragments and need replaced. He didn't show me the panels on my car, he had a demo piece or something that he showed me.

I can also tell you that for the last 10-20K miles, all of which were run during winter temps in Nebraska, I noticed little pieces of a dark grey-colored foam that would come out of the defroster ducts and accumulate on the dashboard. Nothing I considered too major, but I would say in the last six months I could probably fill a shot glass full of the foam pieces, had I been collecting all that I picked-up off the dash. The biggest one was probably no bigger than a fingernail.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 13:56   #6
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The blend door foam problem is fixable without yanking the entire dash out but if the compressor grenaded then you need to get the debris out of the system or it will destroy the new compressor.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 04:08   #7
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OK, so you have two problems... unrelated, mostly.

First, we still do not know the nature of your compressor failure. Sometimes, the clutch is bad, but the actual compressor may be just fine. Sometimes the compressor just blew up internally.

If the clutch or something related to it is bad, OR the compressor comes on, but does not "compress" properly, because its internal valving is bad (these are variable displacement), then there is likely no debris to speak of in the system, and you probably do not need anything else.

But if it really blew up, then yes you really should replace the condenser (first place out of the compressor the debris would go) and I'd also put a drier on (on the outlet side of the condenser). On the NBs, for whatever reason, the high side hose is also subject to internal failure (the one that goes from the compressor to the condenser). I have seen this numerous times, so much so that I would also recommend replacing that hose.

A word about condenser replacement: The NB is essentially just a 4th gen Golf/Jetta underneath, and as such, this job requires the front clip be removed, so that the lock carrier assembly be pulled loose. However, unlike the G/J where this is achieved with simply R&R of the bumper cover, the NB requires a little more work, as the entire "nose" of the car comes off in one big chunk, fenders and bumper cover come off together.

This seems like a huge deal, but it actually is very easy (hardest part is getting the headlights out... so if you can replace a headlight bulb... you can do this, LOL). I only say this because a lot of other shops, for reasons I cannot fathom, try to shortcut this, and just unbolt the front bumper cover leaving the rest on the car. This results in broken pieces and mangled fenders and bumper covers. I have had to go in and "unfix" so many NBs over the years because of this. So I would make sure the shop commissioned to do this work actually knows the proper way to do it, and won't mess your car up in the process.

I would also verify beforehand that BOTH cooling fans work on BOTH speeds, because not only is that a VERY common failure point, but also a VERY common reason why compressors blow up, and will be easy to replace with the car apart.

You will not need anything else inside the car to fix the A/C. The expansion valve I can pretty much guarantee is fine.

Now, your blowing foam: that is a common condition in which the doors on the HVAC case are starting to fall apart. When it gets really bad, you will lose heat, because the door that redirects the air back forward and around and through the heater core will no longer be able to do its job. The A/C will work fine, because the air is ALWAYS blowing through the evap core. But, if the temp door is totally bad... you won't be able to dial the temp up and the A/C will be on full cold all the time, which if it is working correctly, means you'll freeze after a while, as that car's A/C is capable of giving you an ice cream headache on a 100F day!

You can get in there, with some difficulty, and half way get some foam on the temp door, but I have found that there will also be foam coming apart on the mode doors, and in some cases the recirc door... which is why I like to just replace the whole case. Big job, dash has to come out, but not terribly difficult. And the nice thing is, the HVAC case comes with the new evaporator core already in it, so the ~20 years of gunk, because some stuff gets past the cabin filter no matter what (and more times than not those get neglected on the NBs especially), will have lessened the effectiveness of heat transfer on the core anyway. You'd be amazed how much gunk gets built up on those fins over the years.

If doing the HVAC case, the heater core has to be swapped over anyway, so we always put a new one of those in too.

But, that is a separate problem. You can remedy the outside stuff for now, get the system working again, and see how it goes. Just know that at some point in the future, that door foam problem will need to be addressed.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 05:00   #8
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I'd bet a dime to a dollar it's a bad coil. Easily checked with an ohm meter.

Same thing happened to me twice... on my golf and my jetta. I made sure the fan control module was working after I replaced two large cooling fans ($53/ea with the mounting brackets). Once the fans were working, I checked the resistance on the coil and it was open (bad) so I bought two new ones on ebay for about $45/ea. Dealer also told me about $1600 to replace "everything that wasn't working". I don't trust them.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 07:47   #9
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O. P. Not sure how far you are from Kansas City, but if you are close, I would consider getting a new quote from forum member CoolAirVw. His repair shop is http://kansascitytdi.com

Richard is well regarded.

Or for that matter make a trip to St. Louis and see oilhammer!
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Old May 18th, 2018, 06:21   #10
starjays
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Thank you Oilhammer, for your very comprehensive and understandable analysis of the situation. It's a lot to digest, and I can't help but think it best left in the hands of professionals. Obviously likely meaning, additional thousands of dollars in repair bills.

I love this car, but this is getting pretty intense, having to take the whole front of half of the car apart just to have warm and cold air in the cab when you need it. There's only 140k miles on the clock.

I live about 4.5 hours from Belton, MO and have used Richard's shop's services several times on all of my TDIs, and know him to be square-dealer of the highest order. They cleaned my turbo vanes and solved my intermittent limp mode issue...an issue that had previously resulted in a grand or more being handed-over to a shop closer to home that basically just started replacing parts of the vacuum system, seemingly at random as I look at the invoices now.

So yeah, his shop is an option that I'll be mulling, along with any number of other ones on the "keep/sell continuum" that I'll be considering in the coming months.

Thanks again for the feedback!
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