It happened again… Last summer as I was driving home from work, all of a sudden I’ve heard a strange noise from the engine compartment, and my AC stopped blowing cold air. And it was 99 degrees outside… My AC system already broke once several years ago, and I was able to get away with it just by replacing the AC compressor clutch. This time around I knew I was getting into much deeper trouble…
2007-2012 Nissan Altima 2.5L (Engine Code QR25DE)
Important note! AC system consists of several different components, that is why it is critical to diagnose the AC issues properly. This will help you avoid wasting a lot of time and money. If you are not comfortable, or not sure how to do it, seek the help of a professional mechanic. Also be sure to check local, state and environmental regulations regarding servicing and repairing car AC systems. In some states, it might be illegal to work on it without proper licenses or certifications. Just be responsible and careful. Also please see my legal disclosure here. This Nissan Altima AC Compressor replacement manual only applies to 2007-2012 model with a 2.5L engine.
The easiest way to check if AC compressor is bad would be trying to spin compressor shaft. When disengaged, it should be spinning freely and without much effort. Try it only when the engine is stopped to avoid injury. You can either get to it from the top by removing air duct assembly (see “Removal Procedure” step 3 below), or from the side by removing front passenger side wheel and plastic side cover inside the wheel well (steps 8 and 9). On my 2007 Nissan Altima 2.5L, AC compressor shaft was completely locked up.
If your AC compressor appears to be good, you may have a bad AC compressor clutch. This happened to me several years ago and I was able to fix it by replacing just the clutch. It is a lot easier and cheaper than swapping the whole compressor, and you don’t have to discharge the refrigerant or open the AC system. You can watch how to replace AC compressor clutch on Youtube here: https://youtu.be/P7MWWgLIFGQ
Where I Bought Replacement Parts
After spending a lot of time doing my own research, I decided to go with one of these refurbished AC compressor kits (this is Amazon affiliate link). It came with the same 1-year warranty just like the new units! It cost exactly 3 times less than the new ones from a local dealer or auto parts stores! And on top of that, this kit comes with everything you will need for the repair already included: new receiver dryer, expansion valve, lubricating oil and a set of o-rings! At the time of this writing, I had this AC compressor kit installed for almost a year now, and I haven’t had any problems with it. And I use AC all the time in our endless Floridian summer…
Optional: as a part of this repair you will also be removing a serpentine drive belt (see step 11 below). If your drive belt is stretched, cracked or damaged, this would be a good time to replace it as well. Inspect the drive belt before starting this repair, and if necessary order it at the same time when buying AC compressor repair kit.
Removal of the Old AC Compressor
- Before removing AC compressor make sure that refrigerant is completely evacuated from the system. Always wear appropriate protective gloves or eyewear. Exposure to the skin may cause frostbite. Do not release it into the atmosphere because it’s illegal and it is not good for the environment. If you not sure how to do it, or if you don’t have the required equipment, take your car to the local repairs shop and have them do it for you properly. On my Nissan Altima, AC compressor had a leak, so there was no more refrigerant left in the system, therefore I am going to skip this step.
- Disconnect negative terminal from the battery.
- Remove screws on each side and then take out the air duct assembly.
- Depress the tab and disconnect the electrical connector.
- Remove two bolts holding high and low-pressure pipe joints
- Disconnect high and low-pressure pipes
- Cover pipe joints with tape or rag to avoid entry of debris and moisture.
- Safely jack up the car and place it on the jack stand. Remove the front passenger side wheel.
- Remove the plastic side cover inside the wheel well
- Unclip and gently pull down the power steering pipe out of the way
- Next, you’ll need to remove the serpentine drive belt. Watch my video on YouTube to see how to do that.
- Remove push pin rivet clips and then take out the engine undercover
- Next, remove two 12mm bolts on the bottom of the AC compressor.
- Remove two 12mm bolts on the top of the AC compressor.
- Cover pipe joints openings on the AC compressor to avoid spilling lubricating oil.
- To remove the AC compressor, first turn it 90 degrees from its original position.
In this position, you should be able to pull it out from the front passenger side wheel well.
- Fill up the compressor with a proper amount of oil
- Use NISSAN A/C System Oil Type S (DH-PS) or equivalent (PAG 46)
- Perform installation in the reverse order of removal
- Replace O-rings of the high and low-pressure pipe joints with new ones
- Apply A/C oil when installing new O-rings
- Replace AC receiver/dryer. Drier/receiver replacement Youtube video: https://youtu.be/k4BOxlzVW4Q
- If your repair kit came with brand new expansion valve, you can watch how to replace it on Youtube here: https://youtu.be/rn-ijxv_NRU
- Check AC system for leaks after recharging it with refrigerant
- Compressor bolts torque value: 28.4-33.3Nm or 2.9-3.4 kg-m or 21-24ft-lb (*according to official repair manual)
- Optional: replace the serpentine (drive) belt if it’s old, stretched, cracked or damaged.