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5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60) Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)

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Old 07-20-2006, 09:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Air Conditioning Nightmare!

Hey all, long time no see. I'm in the middle of a LONG vacation to northern Michigan and had a little bit of a surprise Monday. I heard a loud explosion while traveling near Leland MI, literally in the middle of nowhere. Coolant began spewing from the engine all over the windshield. The Oh-S$*% response came next. Stranded I called for a tow and lucked out as there was actually a BMW service center in Traverse City only 30 min away. Tuesday I got the diagnosis that my air-conditioning compressor had literally exploded sending schrapnel all over the front of the engine compartment. I went into the dealership again today to talk numbers. $3,700 (plus $300 in overnight shipping charges) later I was out the door without my car, it wont be ready until Monday. It turns out that metal made it into the cooling system and into the engine block. If I'd driven another mile, i'd be buying a new engine.

Has anyone else had a compressor explode?...because this sounds like a pretty significant safety issue.

I'll be out on the water for the next few days trying to de-stress, any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 07-21-2006, 07:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey Matt,

That sucks man. You could buy a decent used Honda Civic for $4000. Of course at that point you'd have a used Civic and not a repaired, mighty E39!

Question: Looking back on it, did you have ANY noise-related warning that this was about to happen? I ask because my AC compressor has deveoped this "rattle" noise that is quite audible, altho it varies in intensity. The AC seems to be performing fine, it's just the compressor is making this awful sounding rattling noise.

On a possibly related (but likely unrelated) note, I've noticed my mpg took a dive recently, almost coinciding with the AC rattle. I've dropped from 23 mpg daily average down to 14.5 mpg on my yesterday's fill-up. Something's seriously amiss there, yet my engine "seems" to be running just fine, with no check engine light at all.

Any of this sound familiar?
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Old 07-22-2006, 04:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I did have a rattling noise before it blew. It sounded like a belt tensioner was aligned incorrectly, but obviously turned out to be the AC. I also noticed a drop in MPG's which started last month. I was getting about 16 instead of 21-22 like usual. I'd get it checked out, you dont want to end up like I did. Good luck!
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Old 07-22-2006, 06:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I did have a rattling noise before it blew. It sounded like a belt tensioner was aligned incorrectly, but obviously turned out to be the AC. I also noticed a drop in MPG's which started last month. I was getting about 16 instead of 21-22 like usual. I'd get it checked out, you dont want to end up like I did. Good luck!
Oh great, that's just great! : Oh well, thanks for responding and once again you have all my sympathy. I guess it'd be better to spend $1000 now to replace my compressor than spend $4000 later.

I recently replaced my A/C belt tensioner and idler so tomorrow I'm going to re-install my old tensioner and pulley to see if the new pieces are possibly defective at all. If the noise (and visual vibration of the belt) remains, then I'll proceed with my A/C turned off for awhile as I set up an appointment with my local Indy shop.
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Old 07-22-2006, 07:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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hey Matt! welcome back! we missed you.
sorry about the news, $4gs is a lot of money
hope you enjoyed the vacation though.
BTW: what kind of explosion was it? Did it blow up into pieces all over the engine comparment? Is that why it's so expensive to fix? becuase all these pieces damaged your whole hood?


Eric - Matt's description is exactly same as yours! Set up the appointment now!!! most likely the dealer will say nothing's wrong, so you make them sign some paper that they are responsible for damages if your ac blows up!
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Old 07-22-2006, 07:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Eric - Matt's description is exactly same as yours!
Tell me about it!

And what a perfect time of year to tool around with my AC turned off...

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Old 07-23-2006, 03:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric S.
Tell me about it!

And what a perfect time of year to tool around with my AC turned off...

be happy your window module still works

i actually drive with windows opened - i barely use AC ever! and it gets to low 100s here!!!
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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be happy your window module still works

i actually drive with windows opened - i barely use AC ever! and it gets to low 100s here!!!
I swapped out my new A/C idler and tensioner today and put the old ones back in - my rattle is still there. This confirms the problem lies within the A/C compressor. Not sure what to do next, except to begin planning an A/C compressor replacement.
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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That's horrible Matt. Good thing you've got it figured out. I wonder how strong the blast was to somehow get metal into your engine block. The metal didnt get inside the block through the intake plelum, did it? That would definetely mean a new engine. So you're saying the metal scraps engrave themselves to the side of your engine block?
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Old 07-24-2006, 10:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Just had confirmed this morning by a BMW body specialist that once the AC "rattle" starts, it will "explode" at any time, taking with it most of the AC system (condensor, evaperator, etc), but he didn't mention engine components or block.

Either way, it's an ugly scenario. I confirmed this weekend that it's definitely my compressor that's rattling, so I took it to my local Indy this morning and he quoted me $1502 to replace the compressor (with reman unit) and drier. GULP! :

I called the dealer and without looking at it they quoted me $1300-$1400, not including my 20% parts and 15% labor discount (BMW CCA). So I guess I'll be driving around awhile with the AC off, but when I take it in, I'm taking it to the dealer, and bringing my own Vaseline...
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Last edited by Eric S.; 07-24-2006 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 07-24-2006, 11:49 AM   #11 (permalink)
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These cars are a joy to drive. As miles start adding up, the cost of ownership comes into question.
Well Eric, you have spent so much time and dinero on your car. It's keeper!
I guess, the clutch/flywheel will have to wait?

I just had my waterpump replaced along with thermostat & belts, cost? $785 (parts/labor/tax). It was a deal because the estimate was $1000!

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Old 07-24-2006, 08:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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These cars are a joy to drive. As miles start adding up, the cost of ownership comes into question.
Well Eric, you have spent so much time and dinero on your car. It's keeper!
I guess, the clutch/flywheel will have to wait?

I just had my waterpump replaced along with thermostat & belts, cost? $785 (parts/labor/tax). It was a deal because the estimate was $1000!

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Hi Los,
Nah, my clutch is fine. What I thought was the clutch rattling turned out to be the (just about as expensive to replace) AC compressor. My clutch is still stout, so I'm sticking with it for as long as it will carry me. Actually cruising around with my A/C off has made my car feel a little more "peppy", if ya know whut ah mean.....
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Old 07-24-2006, 08:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Hey Matt -

When you get a final parts list (as on your receipt/invoice for the repair work), I'd be interested in seeing it just to see how much other stuff was damaged beyond the compressor itself.
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:42 PM   #14 (permalink)
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sell the car now, buy a new one tomorrow
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Old 07-25-2006, 02:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
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