Adjusting the clutch air gap on the Saab 9000 air conditioning compressor
On Saab 9000s equipped with air conditioning (and/or climate control) the air conditioning compressor is driven by an electromagnetic clutch. In normal operation, the clutch cycles on and off regularly. Over time, however, the clutch wears and the air gap between the clutch and the driven plate increases to the point where, under certain circumstances, the magnetic coil can no longer pull the plate against the clutch. The first sign of failure is that the air conditioning stops blowing cold when the under-bonnet temperature rises significantly. This is because the high temperature causes the coil resistance to rise, reducing the available current and consequently the strength of the magnetic field.
I took the car to an air conditioning technician, thinking there was a problem
with the refrigerant. After an unsuccessful attempt, he finally verified that
there was voltage to the clutch and proved the cause of the problem by tapping
the clutch driven plate with a hammer with the engine running, whereupon the
clutch engaged and the compressor started running. I watched him fix it using
the following procedure. Since I have seen a number of reports of this problem,
I felt it worthwhile to dismantle the clutch again in order to document the
procedure for other Saab owners.
Around 10 minutes.
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