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RIP, Lead Technician
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 5591
Experience:  BMW Factory Training, ASE Master Techinician, Advanced engine performance.
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2003 BMW 325I: air conditioning..about 10 minutes..warm fine

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I have a 2003 BMW 325I, the air conditioning on the car works fine when you initially drive the car but about 10 minutes into the drive I hear the pressure of the air change and it starts blowing warm air. I''ve taken it in for repair (not a BMW dealer) and they replaced the fan clutch and recharged the system. When I got it back it seemed to work fine but two days later it did the something. I am afraid to take it back to the same repair shop and get another ding without knowing what the problem is.

Hi, welcome to Just Answer.

It's rare for the fan clutch to fail on these, unless the car has high milage...if the ac worked after the freon recharge, than the freon must have leaked out again. A quality shop will fill the system and check for leaks since freon is not supposed to leak out at'll need to take it back to them for a recheck, but be prepared to possibly have a leaking a/c compressor or hose which are common failures on these. A compressor replacement on this car can runs upwards of $1000.

RIP and other BMW Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I don't believe it is the Freon or a leak, my car had freon in it at the time they recharged it. Like I said the air works initally when I first get in the car then it just stops blowing cold air after 8 to 10 minutes. My car has 67k miles, not that high for the year and make. I don't beleive the clutch fan was the problem either considering it is doing the exact samething as before it was replaced. Could it be an electrical problem?

Let me get this straight...BEFORE you took the car in for service the a/c worked for 10 minutes - correct? Than you had it serviced and the a/c worked PERFECT for 2 days - correct? Now, it's back to working for only 10 minutes - correct?

If that is true than before you even had the car looked at and the problem initially began, was there ever periods of a couple of days where it worked perfectly?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.

No, I bought the car in December and only recently turned on the air conditioning. At that time I realized it didn't work. The regular mechanic fiddled with it but didn't replace anything and it started working for 10 min intervals. When I got it back from the A/C mechanic I thought it was working fine, but my commute is short and until the weekend I didn't notice that it was doing the something as before.
I it's possible the recent recharge of the system didn't cure the problem...can you tell me if on your work order for the recent work they charged for freon? Or how much they removed before recharging? It's rare for this model at 67k to have any other fault in the a/c system other than leaks, typically from the compressor and related hoses. Also, even 0.50 lbs of loss of freon will cause the a/c to blow cold intermittantly. If barely any freon was replaced, than we have a a/c compressor control issue, which would be rare. This type of problem is best left to the dealer or a fully equipped BMW repair shop. The reason is that the compressor circuit is tested through a factory level scan tool, in some cases the Climate Control Computer has lost programming and will act like this until it is reprogramed with a factory scan tool. So if your repair order does not show any refrigerant was added, we can safetly assume that there is no leak and the problem lies electrically in the compressor circuit.
RIP and other BMW Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
The work order from the A/C mechanic does show Freon & oil with a combined total of $45, but when the regular mechanic checked the Freon he said that it was full. I am supposed to take it back to the same shop tomorrow that already charged me $440.00 to see if he can fix it. But before going back I wanted find out what the problem could be so I don't get charge again for something that doesn’t need replacing.
Hmmm...they shouldn't charge you for freon and oil unless it was actually added, which in turn means it was low. In reallity there can be a possibility of 100 different combinations of electrical and mechanical failures which can cause intermittant a/c operation or the a/c to operate only when the engine is first started. But at 67k miles 98% of those are very rare occurances...which means that it must lie in the freon level. I would have them double check it and ask them if it was initially full why were you charged for freon? In my opinion it sounds like this facility may not be experienced with late model BMW's, otherwise the fan clutch would not have been changed for this problem. If the freon is still full, I would take it to a specialy BMW shop or dealer which can use the equipment to scan the Climate Control Computer for a possible circuit failure.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thank you for your time, I am going to print this and take it with me tomorrow. Have a great day.
No problem, and thanks for the accept...let me know if you have any other questions after they take another look.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I took my car back and they just called me and said that they couldn't fix my air. It wasn't a Freon problem, the only reason they added Freon during my last service was because they had to empty it before putting on the fan clutch. Now they believe it is the reprogramming that you mentioned. I have one question, when I asked them what they were going to do about charging me for a part that didn't need replacing they said that “It needed to be replaced, that it had a lot of oil coming out from the front of it showing that it was bad and that if it wasn't replaced now my car would have eventually overheated” that true?

Well it sure sounds like they realize they can't service your car correctly and are trying to ship you away to another repair facility. The freon does NOT need to be removed to change the fan clutch...the fan clutch on these rarely fail at 67k miles. If it was truly bad, they would not have any problem showing you the old one, and letting you take it to another facility for evaluation. Yes the car can overheat if the fan clutch failed, but you don't have any overheating problems and I hasn't replaced a fan clutch on a 3 series for overheating under 100k miles, it's still possible but very very rare. So honestly they should've only charged you an inspection fee of 1.0 hours and told you they can't conclude why the a/c isn't operational, and than recommended they send you to the dealer. But like typical "shady" shops, they charged you for an unnecessary repair and told you it was fixed. If you don't want to deal with them any longer, I would find what agencies in your state are responsible for policing the auto repair industry and file a formal complaint...or if they are a AAA certified shop, contact AAA and file a complaint. You may not get your money back any time soon, but at least they can't continue servicing vehicles incorrectly. If it ends up being just a programing issue, it would of cost you less then that at the dealer and you would have an operational a/c system.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
RIP thank you, XXXXX XXXXX got the call from BMW it ended up being the cars sensor that shows the temperature outside that is located in the left corner near the bumper, somehow it got knocked out. They replaced it and said my air is blowing at around 38 deg. they charged me $548.00. Thank you again and I think I am going to follow your suggestion and report the shop that did the first so called repair.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hey just wanted to let you know I called the shop back and told them everything you said and threatened to report them if they didn't do something. They agreed to give me a full refund...THANK YOU!!!!! I will diffenantly use you again, but next time before I take it in for repair. :)
Thanks for the 2nd ACCEPT, much appreciated...I'm glad they at least will refund your money without having to go through any more trouble.