Monday, July 06, 2009

Replacing the AC evaporator core in a Merc Sable

This 4th of July weekend was relatively productive for me. On Friday, I worked on the last bit of roofing that need to be finished. I'm still not done. It gets tricky working 20 feet above the level of the deck. I have just a few more pieces of roofing material to install. After the roofing material is all done, I have some flashing to install where the walls meet the roof. After that, the roof will finally be complete. I figure about 4 to 6 more hours.

Saturday, I started the miserable task of replacing the air conditioning evaporator core in my car. I had to remove the steering column and dashboard completely, then remove the air handling unit which involved 2 quick disconnects (they weren't quick at all), two heater core hoses, and three large nuts from inside the engine compartment. I had to remove the intake manifold from the engine to be able to get room to make the majority of the disconnections. In the process I broke the EGR valve tube and the gear selector display, the little plastic piece that shows what gear you are in. I also lost the two screws that hold the multi-function switch (turn signals, hi-beam) to the steering column.

Screw access panels and glove box removed.

Steering column, radio/climate controls and glovebox removed

Air handler still installed in car

Air handler removed

Bare naked interior firewall!

Saturday night, my wife Sharla and I went to see fireworks in Montgomery. I have to say that it was shameful! I know budgets are tight, but the show didn't even last 7 minutes! We drove 40 minutes to get there, spent about 40 minutes waiting for the show to start...for what? 7 minutes of fireworks? As I said, shameful!

Sunday morning about 9:00, I started to disassemble the air handling unit to replace the evaporator core. Because I didn't want to be taking the dash out again for any reason, I replaced the heater core as well. I then started to put things back together. About 11:00 I started to re-install components back into the car. At 5:30PM, I had to stop because of impending rain, which was the first rain in 3 weeks. When I stopped, I had the air handler back in, the dash back in, the steering column mounted, and the radio/climate control unit back in. I still have to mount the multi-function switch (when I get the screws), install the glove box, re-connect the AC hoses and heater core hoses, replace the EGR tube, reinstall the intake manifold, upper motor mount and put the passenger side tire back on. If I can easily get the old EGR tube to come off easily (doubtful), then we should be talking about 3 hours to complete. I've got about 12 hours into the project already. With the cost of the evaporator core, the heater core and EGR tube, two freon recharges (the first one told me I had a leak), the total will be just about $550. After I already paid $160 for the first freon recharge, they told me it would be at least $600 to replace the evaporator core. This wouldn't have included the heater core. You know how things like that go...It would have been more in the end. Any way you look at it, I saved about $200. If I hadn't broken anything and cheaped out by using my old heater core, I could have saved easily $300 or more. Hopefully when I take it to the service center, it will hold a charge. Then I'll have AC again! Woo Hoo! It only quit working 2 months after I bought the car about 30 months ago.

Engine compartment with intake manifold and other things removed


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