Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2008   by Jim Anderton Technical Editor

Mix ‘n’ Match

CAT canadian automotive technician; Can you mix American A/C parts with a Japanese engine?

Most Canadian techs are a conservative group. Not necessarily Steven Harper “Big C” conservative, but they know what works and tend to stick with it. One of the things that “works” are OEM or aftermarket parts from trusted manufacturers — many successful techs are very picky about their sources. A common misconception is that it’s necessary to stay within a manufacturer’s family or nationality to get reliable performance. The mythology probably started with spark plugs: many techs would never fit Autolite plugs in a Chevrolet, for example. While this prejudice has been widely disproven, it’s still out there; and for more expensive engine components, the need to choose parts for reliability goes up with the complexity of the job.

SSGM puts this theory to the test with a classic A/C service job, compressor replacement, which mates Honda’s Japanese technology with the iconic American brand ACDelco. Can the two coexist?

Three Tips for Compressor Success

ACDelco has three great tips that should be useful for anyone replacing A/C compressors:

Cycle the clutch a dozen or so times when testing the system after the installation. Compressor clutch material is not unlike friction in brake pads or drivelines; breaking in new friction cleans off contaminants and sets up driving and driven surfaces for long wear without slip or chatter.

Check clutch clearance. Yes, the pressure plate to pulley clearance is factory-set, but how has the unit been handled during shipping? Issues are rare, but it’s a ten-second feeler gauge check that eliminates a potential comeback.

Adjust oil balance. This is critical as the oil shipped in the compressor should never be assumed to be the correct quantity for a given system. Drain the oil from the old compressor and measure: less than 2.5 oz? ACDelco recommends adding 2.5 oz. of the recommended oil to the unit. If there’s more than 2.5 oz. in the old unit, add that much to the new compressor. Remember that any component replacement affects oil balance, not just the compressor.

Can Japanese and American technology coexist? Yes, which proves a simple point: the quality and fit of replacement parts is dependent on the capabilities of the manufacturer, not the country of origin. If it’s good on a Silverado, it will work equally well on a Civic.

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