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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Is it crazy to fix the air conditioning in a roadster? | Hagerty Media

In the forward of my book Just Needs A Recharge, I explain that the title is a joke, as sarcastic as "that'll buff out"-and equally as false. That is, if a car's air conditioning system isn't working, the odds that all it needs is refrigerant are very small.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/is-it-crazy-to-fix-the-air-conditioning-in-a...
19 REPLIES 19
GoFast
Detailer

some of the photos are rotated. please reorient so we can sorta tell what's going on here.
thehackmechanic
Detailer

GoFast, the first photo of the broken compressor bracket is shot from the front. The next photo is of the same area but shot from the side. The photo of the comparison of the replacement and broken brackets is also shot from the side. The final photo of the installed replacement bracket and tensioner is shot from the front.

--Rob Siegel
JT1
Pit Crew

Good article re the repair. I have an S2000 - top comes off on 1 APR and goes back on 1 NOV, so the A/C makes no difference to me. In any case, I'm interested in the line "drove over a median strip". The boy wailed the curb a pretty good one, so did he "drive" over the curb, or, after watching Fast & Furious 27, drift into it?
Oldmanhiker
Pit Crew

Rob, great job on saving Zelda, definitely worth it.
Nobody mentioned driving top down with the A/C blasting! We love to drive our "roadster" (1985 380 SL, double row timing chain😉) with the hard top off and the soft top stowed, but when it's sunny and 90 that delicious cold air keeps things very comfortable.
GC
Intermediate Driver

Yep, I wholeheartedly agree. Driving with the top down, and A/C blasting is the height of decadence but, also very necessary on super hot days or evenings.
tanglefoot
New Driver

Fingers crossed Hackmeister! I don't know about your personal confidential shop rate but I get $25/hr for my "government" jobs, comes with a "tailights" warranty...lol!
acooper529
Intermediate Driver

I have worked with the old and broken for years. It's generally o.k. to fix anything if you are in the business, but as a consumer? NO. The problems never end with old and/ or broken A/C.

I don't know where Rob gets the time to work on these "fine automobiles", but he is slowly becoming my favorite junk yard dog!
Oh...did I also mention that there is lots of aggravation and little or no profit in this type of work?
gyashko
Pit Crew

FWIW, for many of us, the term roadster describes a single seat vehicle without side glass. Consequently, there's little point to installing, much less repairing, the A/C. What the author is driving is more properly a cabriolet or a convertible. I guess this really depends on whether or not you think of something built in 1999 as an "old" car. Just a different point of view. 🙂
Tim
Instructor

Thanks for answering your question about whether A/C is really needed in a roadster (and by extension, convertible). I recall those daily commutes when the morning temperature was just perfect but the ride home was a lesson on how Costco cooks those chickens so quickly. I felt bad when I'd dropped a co-worker off and saw his shirt was practically covered in sweat.

If the A/C and the heat extend the driving season for a convertible, all the better!
bblhed
Advanced Driver

Thank you for the reminder that

A. I do need AC in my Convertible just as I need my Milwaukee heated hoodie with the wire that hooks to the cigarette lighter (Power outlet) for it along with heated gloves.
and
B. If you hit something hard enough to make an obesity some out of your mouth then you probably have done significant damage. Case in point; several years ago I hit a pothole in my Scion xA with enough force to bring fourth a deity of excrement from my mouth, it also caused the power steering belt to flip over. Replace belt and that is the end of it right? Wrong, flash forward several years and it turns out that on that fateful day I cracked my exhaust manifold enough to cause the power steering pump mounts to move every now and then and toss a belt but not enough for me to know what was broken. That is until last week when the invisible crack opened enough to leak and just over $1,000 later, yes it was worth every penny on my 16 year old car, the problem is hopefully finally solved.

There is no such thing as a "minor" accident.
hb
Intermediate Driver

I agree with Tim. That nice cool morning can turn into a blast furnace in the afternoon. Lived thru that one day up here in the PNW. Beautiful morning turned into a 93 degree cloudless afternoon. I raised the top on the Jag only to find my freshly recharged A/C had leaked out(my bad). Miserable drive home. Fixed it right and loving it now. I also personally believe that if the component is in or on your car it should work. Sort of makes your vehicle the way the factory intended. Stay cool!
gdwriter
Pit Crew

I've owned my '91 Miata since 2015, and every year as summer approaches, I think about getting the A/C working again (compressor was damaged in a front-end collision before I bought the car; a junkyard replacement came with the car, and it's still sitting on a shelf in my garage). Since summers in the Pacific Northwest are generally mild, the lack of A/C is rarely an issue, but I did roast back in July coming home from the coast. Plus, a couple of autocross clubs where I'm a member have events far enough away that a top-up A/C cruise home would be much preferable. So maybe this year.
Alikat51
Pit Crew

Feel the same way, my '96 Miata rarely has the A/C on. But coming home from Indiana Auto-cross in 90 deg. weather is nice. I also have a Tonneau cover and with it on I find the heat if cold out, or A/C when hot even with the top down works great.
Historian
Detailer

In the middle of rebuilding my C4 Corvette, I decided to see if I couldn't fix its air conditioning. Discovered a rats nest of jury rigged wiring, and a sure sign that many others before me had tried and failed. Took a gamble, and charged it, which made no difference. Decided then and there to just delete the whole thing and be done. IF, at some point in the future I want an AC, I will look at rigging up an aftermarket one with all new components. Wouldn't cost any more than replacing all that ancient factory set-up. In the meantime, I will enjoy driving with the targa top off and the wind in my hair.
farna
Detailer

"Roadster" is a misused word! Unless the top is completely removable, like some Corvette models where the folding top is easily removed from the body, you have a convertible. A true roadster has no top, or a completely removable top -- not one permanently attached to the car that folds down. BMW calls the Z3 a "roadster", but I don't think the folding top comes off easily in a few minutes.
Tinkerah
Technician

The more you show us Rob, the more astonished I am that this damage is claimed as the result of a curb strike. My BS detector is pinned at maximum.
thehackmechanic
Detailer

My friend's son--the one who put the car up onto the median strip surrounded by sharp curbstones--says he did it at night, after working a 17-hour day, to avoid an oncoming car, and that the impact occurred at about 20 mph. I don't think the damage (the bent wheels, the bent lower control arms, the bent condenser, and the shattered aluminum a/c bracket) is inconsistent with a head-on 20mph curb strike.
sharkguy48
Intermediate Driver

Yes. Fixing the A/C is worthwhile. In SoCal, I had my A/C repaired because it gets really hot here. Was very uncomfortable when it was out and I have no regrets about the repair. Who wants to sweat it out on an otherwise fantastic day in the canyons?
Re: convertibles vs roadsters? The answer to a question most never ask or care.
More significant, when is an SUV a Mustang?



brb
Advanced Driver

Decadence all the way! I drive top down, A/C on in the summer, and top down, heat and heated seat on in the winter. Top goes up in heavy rain and snow.

The median accident reminds me of an incident I had with a rental car in the late 90's. Finishing up a trip on Barbados, I had a late flight and spent the day on the east coast. I let time slip a little too much and was hustling back to the airport in my best rally style, drifting the Hyundai Elantra through corners amongst the sugarcane fields of the island center.

All was bliss until I took a corner a bit too fast and slid off onto the wide grass shoulder. The recover was graceful, but as I regained the pavement I overran a large rock hidden in the grass. About 12 inches tall and pyramid shaped, it passed under the nose with a resounding crunch and wedged under the point where the rear suspension arms attach at the center of the car, lifting both back wheels completely off the ground. Acting as a very effective brake, the car literally ground to a halt trailing a long white line and belching vapors from under the hood.

My first though was that I'd wiped out the radiator. Examination revealed a shattered air-dam and smashed A/C radiator. Amazingly, the oil pan was untouched and only a shallow grove marred the undercoating back to the rear suspension. A professional tire thief could not have perched the rear better for tire removal. The perch was so secure I could not rock the car off the rock. I had to break out the jack and lift the car further to free it, providing much amusement to a passing busload of citizens heading home from the west coast.

Sans A/C, I still made the airport in time to confess my sin to the rental agency and make my flight. The $400 deductible beat me home.