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Jared D
Jared D, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 1906
Experience:  Shop Supervisor at County Fleet
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Ugh... the A/C was cutting out (kept blowing but not cold)

Customer Question

Ugh... the A/C was cutting out (kept blowing but not cold) when the truck got hot, and the "A/C light on the control knob would flash. I took it to a shop, they diagnosed a bad relay, and replaced it for $75. Then...
JA: How many miles are on the car? Has the car been starting normally?
Customer: I was on a 560 mile trip the other day, and the compressor tried to seize. Took it to a Toyota dealer, and they found the replaced relay stuck closed - which kept the compressor engaged ALL the time.
JA: What is the model of your '75 Toyota?
Customer: They replaced the compressor and relay... and the problem is solved. It is 2008 Tundra 5.7L 4WD
JA: Are you fixing your Tundra yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: What I am wondering is, should I take this failed relay and the trashed compressor to the shop that put the relay in, and suggest that they should reimburse me for the compressor, because their <30 day old relay failed closed, and burned up the compressor
JA: Anything else you want the mechanic to know before I connect you?
Customer: No, I don't think so; I am just curious to know if the relay getting stuck closed would lead to a failure of the compressor
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Jared D replied 11 months ago.

That is a tough one. A stuck closed relay can cause compressor failure, but I'm not sure if you'll be able to convince the repair shop to take responsibility for it. Most of the time the compressor will start venting off refrigerant when the relay gets stuck closed and won't necessarily damage the compressor right away. If you drove for a long distance with the relay stuck it might have been enough to purge all or most of the refrigerant off, then without refrigerant to act as a lubricant it could definitely start to seize up.

I would probably take all of the documentation in to the shop that first changed the relay and see what they will do. It's possible that they have a good parts vendor that will take care of the compressor cost under their warranty.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I too, will be surprised if they agree to take care of it, and I highly doubt they have a 3rd party that would be willing to warranty it. That said, I will never know if I don't ask. That's step one, and perhaps being told no leads to the next step, pursuing the matter in small claims court. The dealer that fixed it said the relay can cause the compressor to seize, and they used a cheap after-market relay rather than a OEM relay, so there's that. If you concur, that's two "expert witnesses" that support my claim, and the judge can decide. And the relay was just put in the there on the order of 30-45 days ago.
Expert:  Jared D replied 11 months ago.

I do agree with Toyota- I think the relay was probably the cause of the compressor failure.

If you do end up in small claims court, my opinion (I used to work as an expert witness for small automotive claims cases) is to not push too hard on the aftermarket vs OEM parts argument. The Magnusson-Moss warranty act states that if a specific brand of part is required to make a vehicle function properly then the manufacturer of that vehicle has to supply the part at no cost. Some judges will throw it back on you saying if the wrong brand of part is the cause of the failure then your argument is with Toyota- good luck getting anywhere with them on that.

I would probably just argue that the part they installed failed prematurely- most likely it was defective- and leave the OEM vs aftermarket out of it. Unless of course the shop used a non OEM quality relay, which you don't really see much of anymore. Most parts manufacturers even aftermarket only make OEM certified parts nowadays.

Expert:  Jared D replied 11 months ago.

Please don't forget to rate- they don't pay me if I don't get a positive rating.

Expert:  Jared D replied 11 months ago.

Please don't forget to rate- that's how Just Answer compensates me for my time.