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1988 Fleetwood (fwd) AC help please.

Started by Uhegej, June 24, 2017, 03:05:26 PM

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I tried to charge my ac, previous owner converted it to 134r, so I start the car, put it on auto 60, fan hi. The clutch spins, it seems to be taking the Freon, then clutch stops engaging, I look at climate control and it keeps going to econo mode and service ac light comes on. I had it checked out by a barge and they confirmed it was empty. No freon, so I thought I would try charging it myself. I am not much of a mechanic. But I am trying to save a few bucks. Any advice would be great.
John Hegedus

1979 Fleetwood Brougham


You have to find the low pressure switch and 'jump' it out while charging. The system reverts to economy when the refrigerant is low. This protects the system.

You might try your local library for 'Mitchell on demand'. It's an automotive service and repair program. This program will outline exactly what to do, step by step.

TJ Hopland

How is the airflow out the vents?    That era seemed to have a lot of issues with the evaporator leaks.    The evaporator is the inside 'radiator'.   A minor leak also leaks the oil which then collects dirt and blocks the airflow.   Low airflow causes multiple issues and then you have the leak on top of that.

The couple I have been involved with access to the evaporator wasn't easy so labor was extremely high to replace it.   Those people decided the fix was then some of the magic stop leak super cool in a can stuff which just seems to make things worse. 
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason


The air flow seems weak compared to what I remember in my first car, '86 Fleetwood FWD. So yes, its weak. Does this mean the repair could be costly??
John Hegedus

1979 Fleetwood Brougham

James Landi

Yes--- the repair, accomplished by a professional is an all day affair, so you might shop around and to find the best price for taking apart the dash, replacing the evaporator, and putting it all back together with a guarantee that it all functions as originally engineered.  About ten years ago I found a local car a/c guy who replaced the heater core (that was leaking coolant) as well as the evaporator  (might as well while you're in there)--- I was charged around $700 which I thought was a good price.  Getting the heater control valves replaced and a new control head that was shorted out on my S-type Jaguar cost me $2,500, so my point here is that if you find the right independent mechanic who has done this kind of work regularly, the parts are inexpensive and the labor charge might not be that steep.    Happy day,   James

John Madan

When the pressure switch mounted on the back of the compressor sense's that there is no charge in the system, it opens and the system switches to economy to protect the compressor. It sounds like the freon is leaking out as fast as you can get it in. If you don't see or hear a leak , unfortunately, it's probably in the evaporator. That was a trouble spot with those cars.
2 almost perfect 1984 Seville s 1 is rare touring edition with every available option 1980 Classic Seville diesel that is being restored 1981 and 1982 Seville Roadster 1982 is beyond perfect 1985 base Seville 1978 Eldorado beyond perfect. I have done almost every procedure in the GM shop manual on the Seville if anyone has any questions please feel free to contact me


Update. I drove to my local Cadillac dealership (Fusion, Terra Haute, In) and left rather disappointed. In the 80's & 90's my parents, grandparents had purchased and had serviced many Cadillacs at this dealer. Anyway, in a nice way they expressed "we don't like to work on such an old vintage" my car is an 88 Fleetwood FWD. Its not that old. They said if the broke a piece, for example if dash needed taken out they couldn't replace it. Then the service manager tells me, "if the leak is in an ac hose they couldn't get a replacement, would have to it custom made". Is this information correct? I drove cars like this in the early 90's as teenager. But have only had my car now about 3 months. I really want to repair the ac. Any more advice or tips guys?

John H.
John Hegedus

1979 Fleetwood Brougham


The Service Manager at your local dealer was just following the path of what most dealers are traveling these days. GM only keeps a reliable supply of parts going back 10 model years. For example, the Cadillac dealer I frequent here in Northern Virginia will not service cars 2005 and older. While some parts are available from the Parts Distribution Center, most are not keep in inventory past 2005. The local dealer is just following the current business practice, and he is correct if something broke they could not get a replacement part. Like others have noted find a reliable and knowledgeable local AC Shop. They should be able to repair the system and get part from Rock Auto or NAPA. You are lucky your car is as new as it is. My 70's Cadillac AC systems are only functional because we have a local CLC member that has keep countless systems operational as a favor to our club members.


The bean counters see any inventory on the shelf as money wasted.  It’s considered a poor practice to keep parts that do not move quickly, as in sold in a short time.       
Glen Houlton CLC #727 
CLCMRC benefactor #104

Big Apple Caddy

It's not surprising to see a new car dealership refusing to work on a nearly 30 year old car but you should try a different Cadillac or GM dealership in the region.  Some dealers are still willing to work on older cars.  Call around.