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Discussion Starter #1
I was driving along at 100 degrees outside and the cold air just quit. It got hot in the car real fast. While the car was at the dealership (for a different problem) they told me there was no coolant in the system. I tried looking around for a leak. There seems to be A/C oil and residue (I have never worked on A/C before so I am not positive) on the compressor. I can't find it anywhere else. Also (see picture), the metal gasket in the middle of the compressor seems to have blown out on one side.
Some questions:
1) Is it possible for that gasket to fail like that and would that make me loose all the coolant? Is that the likely place for the leak?
2) Can that gasket get replaced?
3) Is it worth just replacing the gasket, or is my compressor bad?
4) This car has a clutchless compressor. I just noticed in Bentley that you shouldn't drive with a discharged system. I have been. Did I damage the compressor more?

I tried to put some more R134 into the system, but it will not take a charge. Nothing will go in at all. I read some other places that this might happen unless it gets vacuumed first. Does this make sense?
I live in Italy and do not speak Italian. I am in the Navy and have a US Spec car.
Thanks!
 

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Sorry to hear, that's a tough position to be in, overseas with a US car.

You'll get more specific advice from others on this board before long, but in the meantime, my understanding of how the compressor works is it it leaks, you don't have any fridge in it. Since the fridge carries the oil, you don't have any oil in it and if you drive it at some point it will seize up and stop turning. If it stops turning while you're driving, that means your serpentine belt is now rubbing along the pulley at a very high rate of speed, friction and heat ensues, belt breaks, and you suddenly have a very bad day.

When the compressor went out on an old beater car of mine, they just installed a "bypass belt". It's a shorter belt, and they literally just don't wrap it around the compressor. So it just sits there, unused but also unable to damage anything else. You could probably do this, pull the compressor, and take your time rebuilding or replacing it.

Plenty of folks DYI their compressor replacement, but it does require some HVAC specific tools (specifically to purge the system if you want to comply with the eco laws) If you haven't checked already, see if your base has a Motor Skills shop. Don't know if they still have them, but when I was in our base had one; it's basically a giant garage with lifts, tools and everything. Back in that day it cost something like 5 bucks an hour to use a by with a lift, pretty sweet deal ;) If not, start hitting up your buddies. I found compresosrs online for my 06 from 330 and up (idparts). shipping to italy is an issue I've never had to deal with, don't know how that's going to affect things. I can't find any rebuild kits :(

Paying a shop for a new compressor is pretty pricey CONUS, and asking a shop in Italy to work on an American car may be even pricier. Your best bet may just be to bypass it and keep and just deal with having no A/C, but definitely wait to hear back from others on this board. Just wouldn't drive it in the meantime.

Best of luck, hope the rest of your tour goes better.
 

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Sounds like AC suddenly failed, fix now and it might be salvageable. It's a sanden compressor, don't know if they rebuild them.

Don't know some of your answers but to recharge it, you have to 1: make sure it's not leaking.

2. Replace drier

3. Run a vacuum, you need an AC pump for this.

4. Then recharge. Any AC shop should be able to do this.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I do have an auto hobby shop here. They seem to have the equipment to vacuum and then charge the system. They absolutely refuse though to give me even a guess on whether the leak is at the compressor or if the compressor should be replaced.

I think I am going to need to replace it.
Looking online at idparts - the Sanden compressor is $500. VW seems to be much more expensive than other manufacturers.
Looking at other websites, they offer quite a choice. Some of it is confusing. Some of them state that a compressor with a clutch can replace the one I have. Does that make sense? Will it work? The price ranges are all over the place from $275 to $600.
 

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Awesome they have the equipment. And yeah, I can understand them not giving advice. BUT, if you can visibly see a blown gasket on the compressor, and there's all sorts of fluid splayed out from that blown gasket, that's a pretty solid assumption that that is where the leak is from.

No clue about the clutch vs no clutch thing, but I would hesitate to get creative with parts. The TDI has a lot of unique stuff going on, and it's better to cry once than cry twice.

Definitely shop around. IDParts is good, but by no means the only supplier out there. PartsGeek has one for my '06 in the 200's. But buying European made parts from a company in the US to have them shipped back to Europe may not make much sense ;) Make sure you check with local folks as well ... I presume you aren't the only person in Italy driving a VW ?

Anyhow, remember you can always bypass it and take your time replacing it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the PartsGeek link. It is definitely cheaper to buy anything (except food sometimes) in the US and have it mailed to me. I buy synthetic oil from the US. Half price or close to it even with shipping.
 

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Wow really ? I honestly wouldn't have expected it. But then, everytime I went oconus it all deployment so I've never actually "lived" overseas. Good luck ! Let us know how it turns out.
 

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In the UK its illegal to service your AC system you have to be certified.

You need to get your motor scanned (preferably with VAG-COM\VCDS) for any error codes logged in the ecu and post them, that will save a lot of guessing and check systems out.
 
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