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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2011 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 AWD (SAP): Damage to Condenser

Hello,

Not sure if this question fits in here, but I am in a bit of a sticky situation. So thought I'd get your advice.

I got into an accident in Dec 2013 (a while back!). Basically my 2011 RAV4 Sport lost traction on the snow and rammed into a tree. The front got smashed in somewhat.

I got the car repaired through one of the Geico authorized body shops (instead of taking it to the dealership).

As soon as summer 2014 kicked in I realized that the cooling wasn't working properly anymore (no issues prior to accident). The cooling was one of the things I didn't bother checking since the accident happened in peak winter (stupid me!).

I have made multiple visits to the body shop that did the work over the past 1.5 years without the problem ever going away. The cooling remains patchy...works sometimes, but not most of the time. They finally gave up and asked me to take the car to a dealership (this is last month!) and the dealership tells me that the compressor is the faulty unit and needs replacement.

I pulled the Geico Auto Adjuster's report and noticed that one of the parts replaced was the Condenser Assay.

I am pretty convinced that the issue originated with the accident, but as would be expected, I am having trouble with Geico. They, of course, are claiming that the compressor had nothing to do with the accident but something that got damaged as a result of regular wear and tear!

Given the amount of time that has passed, I clearly don't have any bargaining powers here.

The question I have for you guys is : what are the chances that the condenser unit got damaged in the accident? I have no idea where the condenser unit is, but I have attached pics of my car post the accident, so you get some idea of the damage. I apologize for the poor image quality...I was too shaken to do any of this properly. Not sure if you guys can tell anything from the images, but thought I'd include it for its worth.

Would appreciate your valuable advice!
 

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Am not certain whether the part you are asking about is the compressor or the condenser? According to what you posted the condenser was replaced after the crash and the part in question in that section of the post was the compressor, but then towards the bottom of the post you asked about possible accident damage to the condenser? The condenser is in the same position as the radiator while the compressor is mounted on the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My apologies for not making it clear.

During the original repairs, the condenser unit was replaced. But ever since the repairs, cooling has been an issue.

I recently took it to the Toyota dealership and they told me that the loss of cooling is because of the the compressor unit, which needs to be replaced. The compressor was NOT part of the original repairs.

The question is: from the pictures, is it possible that the compressor may have been damaged as well but Geico failed to notice it at that time?

I have added some new images I found.
 

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With your RAV being a V6, and with the damage shown in your thumbnails it seems possible that the compressor and/or its related fittings and hardware could have been damaged in the crash. Unless there are lots of miles on your RAV it's unlikely that the compressor need to be replaced because of "wear and tear," especially if the A/C was working properly prior to the accident. From your post it appears that the system works OK at times and not at all at other times. Does that mean that when it works it works properly and delivers cold air as it had prior to the accident, or is it impaired even when it actually is cooling? If when it works it actually cools as it should, that could mean that there is a problem with some other component or components rather than with the compressor. If there is a good shop which specializes in car A/C within a reasonable distance it probably would be worthwhile to take your RAV to them. Dealers sometimes are not the best places for evaluating anything more than simple A/C problems. Good luck!
 

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First off all it is not the cooling system.......it is the air conditioning or A/C system......the cooling system keeps your engine from overheating....second I agree that the accident is the cause of the issue....as stated above take it to a good air conditioning shop to get it looked at.....could be something simple like a pressure switch......
 

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The condenser is the part with the two fans mounted on it. It was most certainly destroyed. If the A/C worked after the repairs the compressor (mounted on the engine and belt driven) wasn't damaged but likely failed due to ingesting debris in the lines from the condenser some time later. An A/C shop not the dealer will fix the system best and probably at the least expense to you. It's way too late to get any help from GEICO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you so much folks. There is more info here than what the dealer and body shop gave me in multiple visits!

Regarding the functioning of the air-condition system: it worked perfectly before the accident. After the accident, it has been extremely variable. It cools sometimes and then all of a sudden it will stop cooling and then switch back on again later. The ON/OFF cycles appear completely random.

So yes...it was working on and off for a while after the accident. When it was working, I think it was working normally. The temperature may have been a tad bit on the higher side (not as much cooling as before the accident), but it is difficult for me to be certain.

However, after my last 2 visits (1 to the body shop and 1 to the dealer in the last month), the A/C system is more OFF than ON and lately (past week), its been pretty much OFF. To the point that I don't switch it on anymore. I just keep the windows open and drive!

Geico is sending in a adjuster today. Lets see what he says. If Geico refuses the repairs, then I will take it to a specialized A/C repair shop.

Any recommendations in the NY/NJ/CT Area? I live in White Plains, NY and can drive a reasonable distance in any direction.

Thank you so very much!
 

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December 2013?...You must have signed a release with the insurance company so it's way too late to attribute your problem to the accident. Take your RAV to a repair shop that specializes in A/C work and I'm afraid the repair bill is going to be your responsibility now.:frown
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Update: GEICO is actually willing to foot the bill for the repairs. The Geico Adjuster (an extremely nice gentleman by the name of Gary) wrote me a check to get the compressor replaced and cover the costs in full!

However, I am not at all convinced by Toyota's diagnosis of the problem. I don't want to be in a situation where I get the compressor replaced (even though Geico is paying for it) only for the problem to recur because it wasn't the compressor at all.

The biggest bother is that the cooling is intermittent and not 100% absent. That surely means the compressor is doing its part in the thermodynamics of cooling and the problem could be elsewhere as Blogson and some others have mentioned here. In fact, the cooling kicked back in on my drive back from the dealership.

Gary and I had a chat with the service tech who looked at my car and the service tech is convinced that the compressor needs to be replaced, but he had absolutely no clue why I was getting intermittent cooling.

I have a feeling that I will replace the compressor, but the problem won't go away and that would be a terrible situation to be in. The Geico Adjuster strongly feels that it might be a faulty low or high pressure switch that is causing the compressor to shut off. The Toyota tech doesn't agree with that theory.

In any case, I guess this is a good and bad situation to be in. At the very least I ran into a nice adjuster! :)

Thanks for all the education! If anything, I am learning more about cars.
 

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Congrats for Geico paying for the compressor replacement, but along with you I'm not at all certain that is the problem or the entire problem. Did you take your RAV to an automotive A/C specialist for testing and diagnosis, as was suggested?
 

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The biggest bother is that the cooling is intermittent and not 100% absent. That surely means the compressor is doing its part in the thermodynamics of cooling and the problem could be elsewhere as Blogson and some others have mentioned here.
... had a chat with the service tech who looked at my car and he's is convinced that the compressor needs to be replaced, but he had absolutely no clue why I was getting intermittent cooling.
He doesn't understand the system but knows how to fix it. Yeah right!
The Geico Adjuster strongly feels that it might be a faulty low or high pressure switch that is causing the compressor to shut off. The Toyota tech doesn't agree with that theory.
I agree with the adjuster. A compressor can't go bad and then fix itself. But if the system is over or under filled the pressure switches could shut the system off intermittently. Once again why listen to the tech who doesn't have a clue?

Get away from Toyota and to an A/C specialist.
 
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Here's my A/C story: We had a Dodge Grand Caravan, and it quit cooling. Turns out the evaporator had a leak--they replaced it and the receiver/dryer under the extended warranty. About 4 days later the compressor seized up, which the warranty also covered. I was convinced that when they replaced the evaporator, it was something they did or failed to do that caused the compressor to seize.

Or go ahead and let Toyota replace the compressor but tell them to also replace the pressure switches on your dime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
He doesn't understand the system but knows how to fix it. Yeah right!
I agree with the adjuster. A compressor can't go bad and then fix itself. But if the system is over or under filled the pressure switches could shut the system off intermittently. Once again why listen to the tech who doesn't have a clue?

Get away from Toyota and to an A/C specialist.
Yups....I am just going to find an A/C specialist. I am far from impressed with the dealership.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Btw...is it possible that the compressor is intermittently failing? Is there really such a thing?

I always assumed that the compressor would either work or not..there would be no half-measures.

The dealership called me and are trying to convince me that that is what is happening and are trying to get me to approve the new compressor install!

I am definitely not convinced since I have been getting decent (although intermittent) cooling over the past 2-3 days. Going to take it to an A/C specialist over the weekend.
 

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I agree with Dr. Dyno. An automobile A/C compressor either works or doesn't work - on its own it doesn't work intermittently, especially as you have described. There apparently is some other component which is causing the system to cycle as you are experiencing.

It has been suggested numerous times that you have your A/C system checked and evaluated by a good automotive A/C specialist rather than by the dealer, who stands to make a nice profit especially from something involving an insurance claim and payout.
 
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