How to Replace an AC Compressor in a Dodge Caravan

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A bad compressor in your Dodge Caravan's air conditioner will make it harder to get cool air, since the air won't be compact enough to be thoroughly cooled in the condenser. Replacing the compressor is a difficult job; at least part of the job will require professional help. The procedure can vary with each particular model, especially depending on what type of engine your Caravan has.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Rubber plugs
  • Compressor
  • Refrigerant oil
  • Graduated container

Removal

  • Have the air conditioner system discharged and the refrigerant recovered. This should only be done by a qualified technician licensed to work on automotive air conditioners.

  • Disconnect the battery's negative cable by removing the air filter housing and then loosening the clamp nut for the cable.

  • Remove the drivebelt from the engine by turning the tensioner pulley lug with a wrench--clockwise on four-cylinder engines, counterclockwise on V-6 engines--slipping the belt off the pulleys and slowly releasing the tensioner. On four-cylinder engines, you also need to remove the power steering belt by loosening the bolts for the power steering pump and adjuster.

  • Disconnect the electrical connector (four-cylinder engines) or the wiring harness connector (V-6 engines) from the compressor clutch. On V-6 models, you also need to unscrew and remove the bracket on top of the compressor.

  • Detach the refrigerant lines from the compressor and plug them with rubber plugs to prevent contaminants from getting in.

  • Remove the compressor's mounting fasteners--there should be five that require a wrench--and lift the compressor out of the vehicle.

Installation

  • Add fresh refrigerant oil to the new compressor, making sure you have the correct type for your vehicle and compressor. Pour the oil from the old compressor into a graduated container to find out how much oil you need for the new compressor.

  • Install the new compressor in place in the engine and apply the mounting bolts.

  • Connect the refrigerant lines to the new compressor. Remove the plugs from the lines and install new O-rings, lightly coated with refrigerant oil, onto the line fittings before connecting them to the compressor.

  • Re-install and connect the wire harness, drive belts and battery cable in reverse order of removal. For the drive belts, route them in the same path they originally were in and make sure they are centered on the pulleys.

  • Have the air conditioner system evacuated, recharged and tested for leaks by the same technician that discharged the system.

Tips & Warnings

  • Depending on the type of compressor you have, you may need to transfer the clutch from the old compressor to the new one.

References

  • Chilton Chrysler Caravan/Voyager/Town and Country Repair Manual; 2006
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