270k Mile Prius: Dead A/C Compressor

imageLuscious Garage has the distinct pleasure of servicing several high mileage Prius, including this one in a courier capacity, now topping 270,000 miles: My Favorite Prius

This car has needed *very* little attention up to now, with the first high dollar repair affecting the air conditioning system. The A/C was inoperative; climate control would blow but not cold.  The compressor was silent (it puts out a particular whine when on); a quick query to the HVAC computer turned up a P1472 (Open or short in A/C inverter high voltage output system) and P1474 (A/C inverter (w/ converter inverter imageassembly) malfunction).  The Prius is special in that it uses an electric drive, high voltage compressor (controlled by the inverter assembly), allowing it to operate when the engine is off. Clearing codes, the compressor would operate but with a much louder, lower whine than normal.

The diagnostic procedure lists a resistance check of the compressor motor windings, these were slightly high.  Whatever the reading, it was clear the compressor was bad.

Unlike the dealer, LG will happily replace parts with second-hand ones, so long as the replacements are reliable.  In the case of a 270k vehicle, any replacement will have imageless age.  We purchased a used compressor out of a crashed Prius with 60k miles for $400, less than half the price of new.  Naturally we were excited to inspect the innards of the 270k mile compressor, and we were not disappointed.  The original was completely shredded in its scroll gears.  Shrapnel was everywhere.  This compressor was finished. 

With a replacement compressor, a new drier (desiccant), HV rated A/C oil, and a fresh batch of refrigerant, this cold Prius was back on the road.  Total cost of the repair: $870.

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