AC Part2: How to change the AC compressor (York R4 type on M110 engine)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Compress that fluid!

Is your compressor crappy? Dried out for the 15 last years and making squeaky sounds and for sure not giving any refrigerations at all? Well in this second part of the AC system we will embark on the journey to change the broken compressor. A critical part and the one to often fail due to the mechanical nature of operation and lack of maintenance.

This guide will only cover the York type compressor in an M110 engine.

Theory

The AC compressor pressurizes the refrigerant from a vapor state into a liquid state and at the same time increasing the temperature of the liquid by drawing mechanical energy from the engine via a drive belt from the crank shaft.

Some compressors are lubricated by the refrigerant itself, but the York R4 compressor has it’s own lubrication by oil inside the crank. Lack of lubricating in the compressor crank in combination of little or old refrigerant is the most common reason for these to fail.

Preparation

To change the compressor you need to make a lot of preparation even though changing the compressor is not such a big job in itself. This will include emptying the AC system of refrigerant at a professional workshop. You cannot do this at home because the refrigerant can actually deplete the ozone layer (if it’s an old type of refrigerant, this is common in old cars) and they are all extremely potent green house gases that should be disposed of properly. Also a big preparation is getting hold of new spare parts, not only the compressor, but also a new receiver/drier, new gaskets for hoses/connections and compressor oil. You probably need a new pulley for the drive belt as well. You will also need some special tools to finish the job.

Parts and Preparation:

  • Empty refrigerant at a workshop!
  • Get a refurbished or new compressor, can be quite expensive
  • Get new gaskets, they are like 2$ only…
  • Compressor mineral oil compatible
  • New Reciver/drier (must always be changed when changing the compressor)
  • New pulley bearing for drive belt
  • New AC compressor serpentine drive belt

Tools:

  • Big selection of long and short spanners, also ones with ratcheting mechanism to reduce time
  • Socket tool set
  • 3/8 inches spanner
  • Clutch/bearing remover (to remove the clutch from the compressor shaft)
  • Small funnel
  • Brain: Some ingenuity to loosen the clutch (not easy since the compressor shaft and the clutch will rotate together)

Practice

Getting access to the various bolts and nuts around the compressor is not easy. They are awkwardly placed and there is not much space to get leverage for the spanners. Be prepared test your patience! This job is not super difficult, but will save you tons of money compared taking it to a workshops, since they will use a few hours just to remove and assemble the compressor, unless they know the car really well. And lets face it, no one knows the car like you do yourself.

Disassembly

WARNING: Do not proceed unless the AC is emptied of refrigerant!

Now that is out of the way, let’s proceed to the fun stuff. Disconnect your battery to avoid shorts! Locate your compressor, it’s the big thing hanging off the passenger side of your engine. The compressor probably has a serpentine drive belt if the AC has been in use before. This must be loosened first by using the adjusting screw on the AC pulley, which located on the upper part at the front of the engine. If you are not using it after, then just cut it off with a knife to save time, the compressor should have a good belt otherwise it might just slip. There is very little room between the pulley and the fan housing, but you do not need to disassemble anything when replacing the pulley.

Start by checking the pressure in the AC system, it should be empty, but just to be sure use a pin and press on the Schrader valves sticking out on top of the  AC hoses. There might be a slight fizz due to a small pressure building up in the empty system.

R¤ Compressor mounted on engine
Compressor fitted on engine, notice the location of first bolt and wires on the right side of the compressor. (This is a new compressor f.y.i. and the AC hoses should always be disconnected, not shown here!)

Then you can start unbolting  the compressor mounts, there should be 5 bolts holding the compressor in place. On the right side there is a supporting rod holding it on the corner, start by unbolting this. You must also disconnect the wires to the clutch actuator.

AC Compressor R4 Compressor M110 engine
Location of bolt on the front side. There is one like it under the clutch as well (not pictured here)

Two are located on the front left side, one above and one below the compressor. Until now these were the easy bolts, now the hard part starts. There are two more bolts located on the back left side of the compressor, and these are pretty hard to gain access to. Also you will have little room for the spanners, so if you have spanners with a ratcheting mechanism you will save tons of time here.

AC compressor bolt location R4 York on M110 engine
Location of 2 last compressor bolt location. Tricky location.

The bolt that is lowest actually is a long long with a cylinder, that comes off going all the way through the exhaust manifold. Don’t loose this cylinder part, and be prepared to save all shims and remember the bolts’ locations, since they are not all the same, use pictures and notes if necessary.

AC compressor bolt R4 York M110 engine

Notice the long compressor bolt and its’ cylinder.Just before the last bolt gets loosened completely you can detach the compressor and stop if from falling, it’s quite heavy so don’t crush your hand when it might fall unexpectedly.

AC compressor and manifold bold M110 engine
Don’t loose the bolt or any of the shims! They are there for a reason….

Now that the compressor is off the engine, you can begin to remove the bracket that is attached on the right side of the compressor. This is pretty straight forward and requires little explanation, it is just attached by a few bolts. There is also a bracket still on the engine block, it is not necessary to remove this, but you can if you want to clean the area around it etc.

PROTIP: Since the compressor is removed, now you have the perfect opportunity to replace the lower radiator cooling hose, which is nearly impossible to replace when the compressor is mounted.

AC Compressor Bracket R4 York M110 engine
AC Compressor bracket attached to engine block. Not necessary to remove this.
R4 York AC Compressor Bracket
Bracket hold in place by 4 bolts (the bolts are removed in this picture).

Since your new or rebuilt AC compressor does not come with a clutch and the clutch magnetic actuator,  we have to transfer the old components over to the new compressor. Removing the clutch is the most difficult part of this job, since the compressor crank shaft will rotate when you try to loosen the clutch center bolt. You need a way to keep the compressor shaft from rotating while loosening the clutch bold. Easier said than done.

AC compressor Clutch R4 York
This will not work… Trying to loosen the clutch bolt…everything rotates…duh!

I ended up placing the compressor housing in a large wise, then using some large welding pliers (adjustable) to grab onto the inner clutch plate and while holding it still then also unbolting the clutch bolt. It was not the most elegant solution and I recommend you to find a better one, since in my case the outer plate got slightly scuffed by the pliers.

When the center bolt is loosened, the clutch is still pressed on the crank shaft. You need to find your clutch/bearing removal tool, it looks like some spider joint out of a horror movie. Unfortunately it’s a tool that seldom gets used, so don’t put too much money into a tool like this, borrow from a friend if you can. I think I only used it once earlier when I removed the center drive shaft bearing. Place the outer spiders around the clutch wheel and start tightening the center screw. This time you can use a long rod between the spider legs to act as a lever while you tighten the spline, you will hear a loud pop when it comes off. It has probably rusted in place after so many years.

Removing AC Compressor clutch from R4 York
Pulling off the clutch from the compressor drive shaft. Prepare for the big pop when it comes off.

The last part to disassembly is the magnetic clutch actuator. It is held by 4 bolts on a bracket, but be warned, they are Imperial sized! This is the first time I have come along imperial sized bolts on my Mercedes, but the York compressor is not made by Mercedes and this is just how it came from the original manufacturer in the United States. You actually need a 3/8 inches spanner, if you don’t have imperial sized tools, go out to get only this one spanner. I almost rounded out one bolt at first since I was dumb enough to try a metric spanner which didn’t perfectly fit.

R4 York Compressor clutch actuator fittings
3/8 spanners required, notice the almost rounded out bolt since I used metric spanners.

After the clutch assembly is off, you can start by assembling the new compressor.

R4 York Compressor
Everything disassembled from old compressor. The old compressor you can deliver in for a rebuild and get a few dollars actually. Don’t throw it!
Assembly

WARNING: Do not forget to refill the York Compressor with mineral compressor oil before assembly, otherwise it will break!

Forgetting the above step is pretty serious. So before anything else, let’s go through how we refill and measure the right quantity of oil. Also keep the protective dust caps on the compressor fitted at all time until the very end.

Make your own dipstick from a piece of steel wire, make a marking at 57mm and 41mm from the end.

york compressor dipstick

On each sides of the compressor is one small bolt in the middle, these bolts are the filler holes for the oil. They are quite small so a small funnel needs to be used. You need at least 355ml of fluid (12 oz) which s corresponds to around 57mm on the dipstick and it should never be below 177ml (6 oz), 41mm on the dipstick. Use normal mineral compressor oil,  some even use engine oil, but do not use ATF.

The compressor comes with a small quantity of oil in it already, pour this out before pouring in the new oil, it is not important to get all out. Put the dipstick in over the crank case at 45deg as shown in the image to proper measure the fluid level, the crank key should be facing up, there is a small nob on the shaft. It should not be hard to crank it by hand.

york_oil_check_45

When filled up to the right level, start assembling the compressor. Now in opposite order of the disassembly. Remember to keep the protective intake and outtake protective caps on until you are ready to connect the AC hoses back on.

There is no need to over tighten the clutch center bolt since it will also tighten itself over time when the clutch is actuated.

When the compressor is mounted on the car, remove the protective dust caps and make sure there are fresh plastic gaskets on the inlet and outlet holes on the top of the compressor. Tighten the hoses firmly, but do not over-tighten them, the workshop will make sure the gaskets are not leaking when filling your AC system with refrigerant. Over-tightened gaskets will need to be replaced.

Next step

You cannot change the compressor without also changing to a new receiver/drier, otherwise your new compressor might fail too early and all the job you just have done might be in vain. This is the next part of the AC series, so stay tuned for part 3.

Back ground story

To be honest my AC system has not been operational in the last 8 years or so due to a broken compressor. I just didn’t get to the job of fixing the AC system until now, because you know… (Norway is cold most of the time and you really only need AC like 3 months of the year, but then it’s really nice to have on those few really hot days)

Cheers! Robs out

AC Part1: Air Condition Systems 101

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Why you should get in love with thermodynamics

Here comes the 4 part series you all have been waiting for. The ultimate on how to fix the air condition system in your already too hot car. Bored of driving sweating and always going around with the windows open? Now it’s the time, you have been letting this job off for far too long. Brace yourselves, global warming is coming!

I will cover a standard fix of AC system in four parts. Before even beginning you need to know the basics and the theory behind the technology, this will be covered here in part 1. If you are an expert on AC systems then just head over to part 2.

Part 2 will cover how to change the AC compressor. Part 3 covers the changing of the receiver/drier and the last and fourth part covers how you change the expansion valve. These three components are usually the ones you need to care about if your AC system is not working

Automotive AC Theory 

Air conditions are based on the thermodynamic heat pump cycle and if you are really into thermodynamics you can dig into this topic really geeky and deep, but this is not the purpose here. The automotive AC works just pretty much like any refrigerator, this technology is old and proven, no rocket science really. A heat pump moves heat from one source at a lower temperature to another location with a higher temperature with using mechanical work.

Either used for heating or refrigerating the operational principle is the same, but here we are interested in the refrigerating part.

Mechanical work is needed to shift the heat to flow from a colder location to a warmer one since this is opposite to the natural heat cycle in the universe. The mechanical work in a car is made by the car engine.

The vapor-compression cycle is most common for automotive uses. Here it uses a recirculating liquid called a refrigerant that undergoes phase changes to absorb and remove the heat. Many of you have heard about Freon, but this is just a brand name for some types of refrigerant that was common in the olden days, now it is prohibited due to the ozone depletion of such CFC gases. Newer refrigerants do not deplete the ozone layer, but have high global warming potential, so it’s important that you don’t leak these refrigerants out into the atmosphere.

Vapor-compression cycles all have 4 key components: a compressor, a condenser, a thermal expansion valve and an evaporator. For most uses you will also find a fifth component which is the receiver/drier, this is always found in automotive AC.

Schema over AC system
Vapor-Compression system
The compressor

Since the system is closed and recirculating it doesn’t really have a start, but lets start with the refrigerant entering the compressor. The compressor is the part that circulates the refrigerant and is driven by the engine through a tension belt. The refrigerant enters in vapor form at low pressure, but gets compressed by the compressor and it will form a high pressure vapor with higher temperature, known as superheated vapor. It then enters the condenser.

The Condenser

The condenser is a radiator where the superheated vapor runs through tubes where a fan or water cools down the vapor so it condenses into a liquid. Here the refrigerant removes away the heat to the flowing air or water. This is the part where the heat pump can be used as an oven, but in the car refrigeration is wanted and the condenser is just radiating heat into the atmosphere. The colder high pressure liquid is then routed to the receiver/drier as a saturated liquid.

The Receiver/drier

It is located usually before the expansion valve in the high pressure part of the system. They serve three important functions:

  • Temporary storage container for refrigerant when system is not in use.
  • Filtering debris inside system.
  • Removes moisture that can have gotten into the system which can create corrosion and destroy the compressor.

The liquid then goes to the expansion valve where the liquid can drop a lot in temperature.

The Expansion valve (metering device)

The saturated liquid goes through the expansion valve where the pressure suddenly drops, the sudden drop in pressure lowers the temperature of the now liquid and vapor mixture to a much colder temperature than the temperature of the space which need to be refrigerated, like the inside of a car. The cold mixture of refrigerant then is routed to the evaporator.

The Evaporator

Inside the evaporator, which is also like a radiator where tubes crisscross over metal fins to expand the possible area of which heat can be absorbed. A fan blower pushes warm air inside the car through the evaporator where the heat gets absorbed by the cold refrigerant and cold air comes out on the other side. This you will feel as the cold air conditioned air coming out of the vents. The liquid inside the evaporator tubes gets, you guessed it; evaporated into a vapor form due to the heating and carrying this heat back to the compressor completing the cycle.

I hope this was informative and covered the basics, so now you have the understanding of your car’s not so complicated AC system.

Cheers, Robs out 

How to replace tie rods, center drag link and steering damper on W123

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When your car steering starts to feel floaty and maybe the car is starting to drift to one side so you constantly have to correct when going down a straight road, consider changing the steering linkage components and do a wheel alignment.

I will describe how you replace the tie rods, the center drag link and the steering damper only. I will not describe how to do a wheel alignment, because professional wheel alignment equipment is needed.

Changing the idler arm bushing is also possible if you experience a knocking sound going over bumps, but this procedure will be described later in a separate article.

 Theory

Get the parts needed for this job, they are quite cheap since they are normal wear items on a car.
Parts you should get:

  • Right and left side tie rods
  • Center drag link
  • Steering damper
  • Idler arm bushing (job not described in this article)

You will need a special tool for removing the tie rod ends, this can be picked up quite cheap. Either a tie rod fork or a tie rod press tool will do, the latter will not render the tie rod bushing seal useless, but if you are only changing the parts then this does not matter. Additionally you will need a hammer, a torque wrench, some hex tools and some spanners.

 Practice

Start by raising the front of the car on to jack stands, make sure you block the rear wheels. You will have to be able to remove the front wheels to gain access to the tie rods and also be able to turn the wheels.

Because you are working around the brake rotor, it is important that you wear a dust mask and get a bucket of soapy water and start cleaning the brake rotor and the area around to get rid of all the harmful brake dust before you do any other further work. Think of your health!

When you have cleaned the brake dust, turn the steering wheel all the way left if you are working on the right side, and vica versa.

tie rod tool
Use of tie rod press tool to pop the ends off

Get a small pick and clean road grime from the top of the tie rod so you can get a hex tool inserted in to the top. You will loose the bolt with a spanner, but because the whole tie rod end will rotate you have to counter it with the hex tool. When he bolt is off you will notice the tie rod is still extremely stuck. Hit the side hard a couple of times with a hammer to knock the rusted component loose, this might help to loosen it. Insert the tie rod press remove tool and start tightening until the tie rod pops off, this can sometimes be violent. Be careful and don’t lie under it when this happens, because it can happen quite suddenly and the tool and parts might fall on top of you, ouch!

You have to repeat the process twice on each tie rod for both of the car’s sides.

When you have gotten both off, measure the length by counting the turns the tie rod end can rotate before it comes off, it is important that this is exactly the same for the new tie rod. The new and old tie rod should have exactly the same end so your car will have the same handling properties, so it will not be too much “toe in” or “toe out”. The workshop will do the last alignment with reference to the manufacturer specifications after you take the car there. Tighten the tie rod adjustment screw so it will not rotate when the lengths are right.

w123 steering damper
New vs old steering damper. Old one was leaking and in bad condition

Time to take the steering damper off. This is the easiest procedure, it is held in place with two bolts only.

w123 steering damper bolt
Steering damper bolt on the frame side.

One end is attached to the frame of the car while the other one is attached to the center drag link.

Now it is time to get the center drag link off, the procedure is the same here as with the tie rods. Except you don’t have to adjust anything.

W123 center drag link nut
Unbolting the center drag link nut

The fitting is pretty much straight forward, but remember to use the right torque settings for the tie rod mounting nuts. You should tighten them down only to 41Nm, the tie rods will be stuck in the steering arm and the nuts have plastic inserts in them. Remember throw out the old tie rod ends nuts since thee plastic self tightening mechanism is word. The new tie rods and drag link comes with new nuts and be sure to use these. Loosing control of the car because of some old nuts would be as stupid as driving off a cliff.

Safety warning:
You absolutely have to take the car to a workshop where they will do a new wheel alignment. This must always be done right after changing the lower suspension parts!

Cheers, Robs out 

 

How to change fuel injectors in the M110 engine

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ever felt that the engine is not making as much power as it used to? And that the fuel economy has been slowly decreasing? The first thing you should check is the condition of your injectors. Unless you have a pressure tester for the injectors, you would have to guess out from the age of the injectors. If they are more than 10 years old I would suggest to change them, that said if the injectors are relatively cheap since they vary a lot in price between the models. They are still relatively cheap for the M110 engine. E.g. If you have the rarer M100 engine, it will cost you nearly a new house to buy new injectors!

I will describe how you change the injectors with new ones. Refurbishing the old ones is a bit more cumbersome and it needs a pressure tester which you can clean them with and test for release pressure and spray pattern.

 Theory

Changing the fuel injectors is not difficult and you don’t need much preparation except acquiring new injectors, gaskets and o-rings. There are two gaskets per injector you will have to change or you will end up leaking fuel which is expensive. You can change the injectors easily in an afternoon. I also recommend to change the fuel filter at the same time to not clog up your new injectors.

Practice

 Removal

Start with opening your hood and disconnecting the battery. Sparks can make explosions from gasoline vapor when you are working with the fuel system, and we don’t want that to happen.

mercedes m110 engine without air filter housing
Remove air filter housing to gain access

Remove the air filter housing to get access to the fuel delivery system.

The four front injectors you can now access without removing more stuff, but to gain access for the last two, you have to remove throttle linkages, fuel hard lines and a fuel regulator. We’ll come to that later.

Two and two injectors are held in place by a single metal plate, to remove the metal plate loosen the injector hard lines first. The injector hard lines should not sit on very hard unless they corroded over time or they have been over tightened. Use two spanners, one 14mm to loose the line nut and one 12mm on the injector itself to to keep it from rotating.

fuel injector removal
Loosen fuel injector hard lines with two spanners.

When two hard lines are loosened you can bend them a little to the side to get more access and then remove the injector hold-down plate.

injector removal
Loosen the injector hold down plate

After the plate is removed you can pull out the injectors with you fingers, they sit loose in there. The injector housing will be left, This plastic housing you can just pull out straight too, but be warned, do not use excessive force and pull only the housing straight out with you fingers, don’t use tools or you might damage it. It most likely have become quite brittle by heat over the years. If they are in such a bad condition they are cracked, you have to replace them.

Most likely some of the injector housing gaskets do not come out with the housing, but is still sitting in the injector hole, use a small flat screwdriver and pry it carefully out.

After removing the first four injectors, the two back injectors are left, now the big job starts. See in the picture below that these things blocks access to the fuel injectors.

fuel injector access
Throttle linkage, hard lines, fuel stuff blocking access to the injectors.

Start with removing the throttle linkage. Remove the pin and the c-clip along the ball joint. I use a wide flat screwdriver to pry the ball joints off. Remove some more linkages and then you are ready to remove the regulator.

throttle link removal
Remove the throttle linkage.

Warning:
Get a small collecting can of some sorts and tilt it towards the injector line shown in the picture below. Loosen it and fuel with shoot out with high pressure. Wait until the fuel stops flowing, then loosen the second fuel line connected to the regulator.

fuel line disassembly
Fuel will shoot out when you loosen this line so be prepared with a can of some sort.

Also loosen the vacuum lines before removing the fuel regulator, it is fastened to a bracket with two small bolts.

removing fuel regulator m110
Unbolt the fuel regulator.

Now you should have clear access to the last two injectors.

fuel injector removal M110
Clear access for the last two injectors.
Inspection

Now is the time to inspect the old injectors and look at those old brittle gaskets. It is a reason why your car was using excessive fuel…

injector o-rings
New vs. old, looks can deceive.

My old gaskets were super hard, especially the round outer ones. No wonder why there was a lot of dirt around the injector area by the engine, they have probably been leaking a while. This job should have been done years ago. I didn’t notice it when the engine performance still was very good, but obviously not optimal when looking at this leaking issue. The old injectors I don’t even bother testing, I will just throw the old ones and put in new ones.

brittle old injector o-ring
Just look how brittle the old injector o-rings were. They must have given little sealing when they are hard as rock!
Assembly

This is how you should assemble the injector with the gaskets:

  1. Pop on the big rubber gasket on the injector itself.
  2. Pop on the little rubber ring on the injector plastic holder.
  3. Pop the injector holder into the engine block until you hear and feel a nice pop.
  4. Slide all the injectors into the holders. Put the hold-down plates over them and tighten.
injector assembly M110 engine
Injector assembly

The injectors will now have a good seal and no fuel will leak. It is also a good idea to clean up the area around the injector holes in the engine before assembly. Also try to be super clean with the new injectors, keeping the plastic cups on as long as possible before fitting them.

No you also have the perfect opportunity to lubricate all the throttle linkages, such as the pivot points and ball joints, I know they have been neglected for years and we are all guilty as charged. However now is the perfect opportunity for redemption. Remove all the linkages and pivot plates, clean them and apply new synthetic grease that will last a while and hold up to water and heat from the engine.

When everything is bolted back together, there is no such thing as dreadful bleeding like in a diesel. Just crank the engine over a few times and the engine should start, it will run rough for a little while until the pressure have settled, and you might experience hard start the first couple of times before the first drive. This is the time when you realize if the electric fuel pump needs replacement or not, mine is some years old and still going strong, although it have been replaced a couple of times the last 15 years.

Cheers, Robs out!