Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

One of the most frequent causes of A/C failure is a malfucntioning clutch on the A/C compressor. When this happens, a loud rattling noise will originate from the engine bay. Sometimes the whole clutch will seize up and tear the belt. Upon replacement, far too many times the entire A/C compressor is replaced rather than just the clutch. This results in wasting a lot of money, though it is easier to perform. On average an A/C clutch can cost from $ 70-120, where as the entire A/C compressor can cost $ 150-250. Not only is the compressor more expensive, but the refrigerant has to be recycled or refilled, which can cost an additional $ 25-50.

Often times the A/C clutch can be found in salvage yards, for almost next to nothing. While they are used, they make a perfect replacements considering the cost savings.

Requirements

  • Jack & jack stands
  • Hammer
  • Flat head screw driver
  • Pry bar or chisel
  • Ratchet
  • 8 mm or 5/16ths socket
  • 18mm socket
  • 15mm wrench
  • Chain vise grips

Procedure

  1. Raise the vehicle and place it on jack stands. Initiate the parking break.
  2. If any plastic splash shields are present beneath the vehicle that are obstructing access to the A/C compressor, remove them.
  3. If possible, remove the towing mount. It is secured by two 18mm nuts.

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

  1. Place chain vise grips or any other locking mechanism around the outer part of the A/C clutch. This can either be placed by the outer contact plate. If it is too difficult to get it on the outer contact plate, due to how thin it is, then the triangle formed by the rivets can be used. This will dent it slightly, but if it’s the old unit to be thrown away then this is fine. Another way to accomplish this is to place something between parts of the clutch and the chassis, to prevent it from spinning.

  1. Loosen the 8mm bolt that secures the outer clutch plate, while making sure the clutch is not rotating.
  2. Remove the clutch plate carefully, it will have a small washer on the inside at the end of the shaft. This provides proper gap between the clutch surfaces. Make sure to not lose this washer!

  1. Use a 15mm wrench on the tensioner pulley shown below to compress the tensioner and release the belt from the A/C compressor.

  1. There is a snap ring that secures the A/C compressor pulley and bearing to the compressor. Remove this snap ring either with a snap ring removal tool, a screw driver, or needle nose pliers. Try to avoid bending it.

  1. Pry off the A/C clutch coil with some sort of a pry bar, chisel, or even a part of a tie rod separator tool works, as shown in the image below. Be sure to pry by tapping and without excessive force, to avoid damage to the surface on which it sits. You will have to pry from the top as well, to ensure an even removal and avoid gouging the A/C clutch coil seat. This can be accomplished by placing a bar through the top and tapping it with a hammer.

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

As can be seen below, the old unit that was removed had some wear issues.

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

  1. Place the new A/C clutch coil on to the compressor. Make sure the plug aligns properly with the compressor.

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

  1. Tap the A/C clutch coil on to the compressor without excessive force. Use some sort of a bar in between to spread out the force and avoid gouging the coil. Continue to tap until it is evenly mounted, and there is no gap left between it and the compressor.

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

  1. Reinstall the bearing and pulley part of the clutch. It will slide ride over the coil and will also require some tapping to go into place. Continue to tap until you see the entire grove for the snap ring show itself as the bearing goes deeper into the A/C compressor.
  2. Reinstall the snap ring to secure the pulley and bearing.
  3. Reinstall the outer clutch contact plate. Once again, make sure the water is still present and installed into the shaft before mounting it. Make sure the washer is parallel during insertion, or else it will be crushed when the bolt is put in. Repeat the previous methods of securing the plate from rotating while tightening down the bolt. Putting an object such as a deep socket between one of the three rivet pieces on the plate and the body is one of the easiest methods. Make the bolt hand tight, it is small so you don’t want to snap it.

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

  1. Reinstall the belt, start the vehicle, and test the A/C system to make sure everything works.

Ford Focus AC clutch replacement

Written & performed by Alex.

 

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