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Tim Toohey

Removing a BEHR AC evaporator assmbly

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Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): I want to remove my evaporator assembly to service it. Is the BEHR evaporator assembly (plastic box) just sitting on the transmission hump and only held in place by the refrigerant lines or are there fasteners that hold the assembly to the hump?


I have a 1976 2002 with a BEHR AC assembly. The AC system has been converted by a prior owner to 134a refrigerant. The compressor is specific to 134a refrigerant so it is an “upgrade” from the original dealer installed R12 compressor. I haven’t taken the time to see if the condenser and condenser fan are upgrades, but squinting through the louvers in the nose lead me to believe that the condenser and its fan seem newer than having been there since 1976. The condenser fan measures 11” in diameter and “u-turn” manifold piping extend beyond the condenser fan by about 1” on each side.

The evaporator assembly appears to be the original dealer installed equipment.

I’ve owned the car for just a couple of years and the AC system worked well in Raleigh and more recently in Orlando – tough climates.

Recently, the evaporator fan stopped blowing. The fan blower switch didn’t operate smoothly anymore. I suspected a power problem as the system worked fine ever since I bought it. The compressor clutch engaged/disengaged; the air inside the evaporator assembly at the squirrel cage fan felt cold to the finger; the condenser fan blew when the compressor was engaged. When I looked into the ends of the squirrel cage evaporator fan ends (with the console fully assembled), I could see that the evaporator fan was not spinning. Infrequently, but not always, the squirrel cage would engage for a brief second when I spun (or “primed”) it with my finger it with the AC system turned on.

I took the console apart (the car still has the “U” shaped console brace). There is a bit of discrete “craftsmanship” (literally, popsicle sticks and crazy glue) used to connect the trapezoidal console face to the underside of the dash and to the brace at the bottom – but is holds tight, doesn’t squeak while driving and it is serviceable once I’ve removed the side panels and the shifter’s boot/console assembly.

I suspected that the evaporator fan motor had a power issue – either a poor connection or possibly the electrical components to the fan are worn or dirty. In order to remove the evaporator assembly, it was obvious that I would have to disconnect the evaporator intake and discharge hoses. The system was charged so I took it to a mechanic who had some 2002 experience, but not much “institutional knowledge” retained with their service team – but they were willing to try. They were honest and I effectively paid some of their tuition as they worked on the car.

The mechanic diagnosed a faulty fan blower switch. I am sure this was part of the problem. The selector knob didn’t operate smoothly anymore – turns out a ball bearing had been dropped out of its race. I sourced a replacement switch from Tsingtao_1903 (thank you!), took his apart by drilling out the 1 ½” rivets and serviced my switch by harvesting some springs and I will harvest a back panel. This will improve my switch’s functionality as well as its structural integrity.  The mechanic reinstalled the fan blower switch and put the console back to together. The evaporator fan motor still won’t spin.

I hit the pause button with the mechanic. I am inclined to perform the diagnostic work (if not the repair work) myself, at this point. I’ve learned a lot from the book:  Just Needs a Recharge – The Hack Mechanic Guide to Vintage Air Conditioning, by Rob Siegel.  I want to now pull the evaporator assembly and take a look at the fan blower motor.

Before I take the car into a mechanic to evacuate the refrigerant so I can remove and service the fan motor, does anyone have any advice?

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