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Amedee, Former ASE Master Tech
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 26635
Experience:  ASE certified tech advanced level specialist. Wisconsin certified emissions state inspector
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vitara: ac compressor..strange smell..freon if there are no leaks

Customer Question

I own a 2001 Grd Vitari xl7 and lately I have noticed a strange noise when the ac compressor kicks on and there is a strange smell...I have heard the compressor fan has problems or is it simply a belt issue? Also is it necessary to EVER need to add freon if there are no leaks?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Amedee replied 5 years ago.

As long as the serpentine belt is not loose or slipping when the AC is turned on, chances are the serpentine belt is not causing this smell you notice when turning the AC on. IF this smell is coming from inside the vehicle, then it could be a musty smell from a plugged drain tube. If this smell is coming from under the hood only when the AC compressor is turned on, then chances are it could be the compressor clutch material you are smelling. This usually means the AC compressor is starting to go bad but you will want to check everything else out first before replacing the AC compressor.

The AC system will not burn freon. This means that if there are no leaks, you should not have to add freon. However, it is very common that the AC system just has a small leak that is not detectable by a visual inspection and over time it is enough to cause the system to leak down enough where an AC recharge is needed.

I hope this helps!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I also noticed when I turn sharp I hear the PS squel a little...this has all happened within the last week..I notice the AC and PS are run off the same belt...could the belt make a smell? Should I replace Both belts at the same time being they have NEVER been replaced and I'm sure could use it.
Expert:  Amedee replied 5 years ago.

You could certainly replace the belts, but they squeal when turning usually when they are loose. If they squeal too much when turning, then yes.. it could cause a smell because the belt is slipping on the pulleys.

If the belt has a manual tensioner, you can tighten it up but if it has a auto self tensioner, chances are the tensioner will need to be replaced. You could get the belts and the tensioner replaced at the same time.. it would save you money on labor..
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Would any of this cause my ck engine lgt to come on? I know there are problems with a sensor for this vehicle but that was taken care of. Also is it true the compressor fan could not be spinning properly as I have heard this veh has that issue, it just seems it all happened around the same time. Should I change belts being they are old and see if all other issues are resolved?
Expert:  Amedee replied 5 years ago.

No.. none of this will cause the check engine light to come on. The check engine light comes on for emission purposes only.

If your talking about the Ac condenser fan under the hood, the answer is yes.. it may not be working properly or spinning like it should.

YES.. I would start by at least tightening the belts and replacing them if needed. You can look to see if they are cracked on the inside of the belts. If so, they need to be replaced.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for your help...but you really didn't tell me anything I already found on line for free and I noticed you don't have Suzuki on your profile for vehicles you work on. I do have a couple other questions and if that helps me I will give you good reviews! Is it true that you should use (i believe they are called Uranium spark plugs) only on this veh or it may cause it to miss...these spark plugs are $120 a piece as opposed to $7.99 for Champions and also ever since this veh was bgt new the rgt frt tire has wore and recently has been cked over and over and is in spec...I have the spare on now and have found it has been recalled do to blow outs...What to do? Also could the ck engine lgt be on due to it rollin over 120,000 as there are no other problems in that area...runs great

Expert:  Amedee replied 5 years ago.

Just Answer does not have a Suzuki category thats why you don't see it on my profile. YES.. I work on these vehicles a lot.

Would you like me to get the spark plug part number for you that is supposed to go in this vehicle?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
That really didn't answer all my questions and I could get the part # XXXXX from Auto Zone...Are the spark plugs universial or do I need specific ones for this vehicle. I am trying to find out what is bull and what is truth to help save money...please help as I am a mom with 4 kids and a disabled husband!!!
Expert:  Amedee replied 5 years ago.
You need specific ones for this engine. They may fit other applications.. but they are specific to this engine. But they do not cost 120 bucks a piece. I am not sure who told you that.. I would be skeptical.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Other.
I found out all the info I asked for free on line..I was hoping for help that would relieve my mind and did not get it!!! I would like a refund
Expert:  Amedee replied 5 years ago.

If you found this information on line for free, then why did you ask all of these questions?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Sooooo true...I'm just frustrated right now...sorry. I guess I wanted more info than just confirming my questions. Regarding the smell and new noise (my husband thinks I'm crazy) but I know within the last week when I turned on the veh it has a strange sound occasionally when the compressor turns on and then of course the smell. I say don't use the AC if it smells bein I could burn something up...will the belt break or compressor burn up IF there is only a belt problem and if the freon is low does that effect the unit?

Expert:  Amedee replied 5 years ago.

I understand your frustrated but please don't take it out on me. I am just trying to help you.

YES.. if the freon is low, this will cause the AC compressor to cycle on and off or just prevent it from turning on all together.

Keep in mind, it is normal to make a click sounds when turning the AC on. This is just the compressor clutch engaging.

It will smell a bit different especially if you have not used the AC all winter long.. you may not be used to the different smell. As long as there is no smoke coming into the vehicle through the vents or coming from under the hood, I truly don't think you have to worry about it. YES.. check the belts and tighten as needed.

Please only indicate that you are happy with my answer if you are truly happy with my assistance today. I have been trying hard to help you and I don't want you to go away upset.