A/C clutch not staying engaged when heater is on, battery fluctuates - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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  #1  
Old 11-30-2010
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A/C clutch not staying engaged when heater is on, battery fluctuates

Howdy folks,
I've been an observer of the forums for a while, but haven't posted until now. I've got a problem I can't seem to fix on my little freebie 4-banger 1996 Ford Ranger I got recently.

When I turn the heater on I hear a loud click from the A/C compressor's clutch, it starts spinning then stops after about 5 seconds. It continues to try engaging but won't. On top of that, my battery level indicator in the dash drops significantly when it does this, then fluctuates up and down if I do anything with the heater on (brake, turn signals, radio volume, etc). Heater works fine otherwise, blows hot air and everything. I've had the battery and alternator tested and all is well. Any ideas? I've gone through and checked my grounds, but everything seems fine. I noticed this initially last summer when I clicked the A/C on once, but didn't think much of it because I don't really use the A/C as it gives me a wicked headache for some reason.

Oh, I've tried swapping the relays too, but it didn't make a difference. Thought it could be the low-pressure switch, but I can't find the dang thing to try jumping it out.
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Old 11-30-2010
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Well..I'm sure someone with more knowledge will chime in..but I can speak from my experience with my truck..

Its normal for the clutch to kick on and off when the heat is on. However...sometimes mine will kick back and forth almost repeadetly sometimes which I know is not right. If its like a 5 second delay than looks like we may have the same issue.

Not much help but maybe we have a commonality on this.
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  #3  
Old 11-30-2010
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If it cycles repeatedly every 5 seconds or so , you are probably low on the freon charge.
If you don't really need the A/C just unplug the connector going to the clutch.
I usually do that every Winter anyway.
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Old 11-30-2010
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OTRtech has the right idea
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  #5  
Old 11-30-2010
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Well, I disconnected the A/C clutch, and the clicking stopped. However, the voltage problem still persists, making me think that perhaps the battery drain isn't connected to clutch problem, but was just made worse by it trying to engage. Could it be something else? I had my brother-in-law the mechanic say not to worry about it, but when I see the voltage going up and down I can't help but think I'll eventually be stranded with a fried battery.

Last edited by karlribbon; 11-30-2010 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 12-01-2010
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how much fluctuation? I had a similar issue on my old ranger just before the alternator died, mine was all or nothing though.. you could also have some corroded groundwires causing that. very likely with older rangers.
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  #7  
Old 12-01-2010
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It's about a 3-4 volt fluctuation with the heater on. I need to change out the serpentine belt, could it just be slipping on the alternator? I checked the grounds, but I'll double check again to make sure I didn't miss one. Thanks.
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  #8  
Old 12-01-2010
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Remove the tensioner for the serp belt and stuff it full of PB Blaster.
They crud up inside and won't keep enough tension on the belt.
Work it back and forth a few times before you reinstall the belt.
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  #9  
Old 12-01-2010
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It very well could be... the belt tensioner could also be shot.
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  #10  
Old 12-01-2010
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i woulnt disconnect the a/c because its suppost to be on its for the defrost. how did the alter and battery check out.
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  #11  
Old 12-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olecountryjohn89 View Post
i woulnt disconnect the a/c because its suppost to be on its for the defrost.
The A/C comes on in defrost to keep the compressor oil circulating in the system through the winter months . Helps to prevent the seals and compressor components from drying out.
It has no effect on drying the windshield.
Ever try clearing the glass with cold air in the Winter ?
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  #12  
Old 12-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRtech View Post
The A/C comes on in defrost to keep the compressor oil circulating in the system through the winter months . Helps to prevent the seals and compressor components from drying out.
It has no effect on drying the windshield.
Ever try clearing the glass with cold air in the Winter ?
The A/C coming on in defrost position does help to dry the windshield. The A/C helps to remove moisture from the air by condensing on the the cold A/C condenser. Heat from the heater core then heats the air to also aid in drying the windshield.

Haven't you ever noticed in the summer when you use the A/C in humid conditions, a lot of water drips on the ground from the A/C condenser? That is very good evidence that the A/C removes moisture from the air. I remember older vehicles that did not have A/C as part of the defrost system and in very humid conditions (such as heavy rain) the defroster could not keep the windshield from fogging up even with the defroster heat at full blast.
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Old 12-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IN2 FX4 View Post
The A/C coming on in defrost position does help to dry the windshield. The A/C helps to remove moisture from the air by condensing on the the cold A/C condenser. Heat from the heater core then heats the air to also aid in drying the windshield.

Haven't you ever noticed in the summer when you use the A/C in humid conditions, a lot of water drips on the ground from the A/C condenser? That is very good evidence that the A/C removes moisture from the air. I remember older vehicles that did not have A/C as part of the defrost system and in very humid conditions (such as heavy rain) the defroster could not keep the windshield from fogging up even with the defroster heat at full blast.
So you are saying that when the blend door is in the full heat position , in the Winter when it is twenty below zero where I live , with super low humidity , air is being cooled by the A/C before the heater core ?
At lower than freezing , any moisture has condensed.
Gee , I have a 93 Dodge without A/C that clears the windshield faster than you can say 'I don't know what I'm talking about' . And that's with frost from my breath that has fogged it for half an hour.
When you move the blend door from Cold to Hot , air is not transferred through the cooling coils.

Last edited by OTRtech; 12-02-2010 at 11:36 AM.
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  #14  
Old 12-02-2010
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I agree with IN2 FX4.

Once the air starts to heat up.. that moisture starts to evaporate.
Heat can do it just fine by itself. but removing the moisture speeds the process and, at lower temp so you don't have to turn your car into an oven to defrost the windows.
If you turn on the defrost then the a/c pump goes into "defrost" mode, which is not the same as the a/c cycle. it doesn't get as cold, just enough to condense moisture but not to the freezing point.

Besides you can physically feel the dry air come out when you switch from heat to defrost..
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  #15  
Old 12-02-2010
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So at 20 below zero , you are trying to tell me that the air is above freezing and the A/C will help defrost my windshield ?
What planet are you from ?
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  #16  
Old 12-02-2010
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aperently earth and where are you from the a.s.s backwards place. you have been told twice your wrong accept it and move on. in some states if the defrost dosent work then they will fail it. Along with comerical trucks.Why would you un plug something under the hood, its was pluged up for a reason.DUHHHH
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  #17  
Old 12-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRtech View Post
So at 20 below zero , you are trying to tell me that the air is above freezing and the A/C will help defrost my windshield ?
What planet are you from ?
yes that's exactly what the AC compressor does in the winter, it doesn't cool, it simply removes moisture from the air inside your vehicle.
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  #18  
Old 12-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRtech View Post
So at 20 below zero , you are trying to tell me that the air is above freezing and the A/C will help defrost my windshield ?
What planet are you from ?
You need to remember not everybody on this planet is at 20 below zero and need to have good defogging capability for the windshield. Heat alone can defrost but dry heat defogs much better than humid heat.

The heater heats cool air much better then the A/C cools hot air. Turn your A/C on sometime with the engine at operating temperature then turn the temperature control **** all the way into the red. You will no longer be getting cool air.
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  #19  
Old 12-04-2010
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Well, despite the existential quandaries related to A/C, I've just been using the floor setting and it seems to be fine--Colorado is really damn dry and I don't drive my truck enough for it to matter. Anyway, in regards to the voltage fluctuations, my check engine light just popped on, had it tested, turns out to be the camshaft sensor -- which might make sense, if the car doesn't know how to idle it might account for the voltage fluctuations. BUT I can't for the life of me find the camshaft sensor anywhere under the hood. Anyone know where it would be on a 2.3 L 1996 Ford Ranger? I've scoured the Internet and Haynes but nothing has pointed me in the right direction...
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  #20  
Old 12-05-2010
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I found this... its for a 3.0 but maybe they are in similar locations.. its a big thread so there might be talk of the 2.3 location too.
http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/20...placement.html

Last edited by RangOH; 12-05-2010 at 12:39 AM.
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  #21  
Old 12-07-2010
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I also have a '96, and mine does the same thing. Has since brand new. I've had it checked numerous times and no one finds anything wrong.

I gave up on it a long time ago. It now has 190k on it and the air still works.
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  #22  
Old 12-07-2010
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Cool, so it must just be the fact it's such a small engine and running a full load really wears the little guy out. Good to know I should probably just ignore it.

RangOH, thanks for the link, I found another one that points to the camshaft sensor being right above the oil pan connected to the pump, still haven't found the dang thing, but it's been freezing here and I've kind of just ignored it, waiting for a warm day. I suspect it's covered in oil and engine gook, which is why I can't spot it too easily. The dang thing started leaking a bit of oil today too. Sheesh, all at once.

Thanks everyone for all the help though.
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