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2002 Honda CRV air conditioning repair


Hi! Dne’ here;)

Though this ’02 Honda CR-v isn’t a classic, I felt compelled to put this repair on Classic Cars and Tools because there are many people out there having problems with this particular AC system(including yours truly), mainly due to the HS110R scroll AC compressor blowing up!


Recently we purchased our youngest daughter a 2002 Honda CRV with 79,000 miles on it thinking we bought a “good” vehicle for her. The lady we purchased it from was a school teacher and the nice looking SUV looked to be well taken care of.


The only things I had to do was maintenance of a serpentine belt, idler pulley and front brakes. However, there was a subtle “rattling” noise in the front right that I could never pinpoint! So we gave the CR-V to our daughter and later that day the compressor locked up! We had only put 50-60 miles on it~ did the lady know something, did the dealership say, get rid of it? hm?  However, it had nothing to do with the rattling noise which I spoke of earlier(I’ll explain later in this blog). The compressor blew without any warning resulting in a subtle abrupt noise.

Searching the internet for answers, I come across the dilemma of the Keihin HS110R scroll compressor! I feel badly for this compressor after learning a little more about it:( It’s hung down low, hardly any air flow to cool it, and only 4.5 ounces of pag46 refrigerant oil, and it works almost continuously! However, my 98 Rav4 has right at 300,000 miles and the AC still works just fine and has never had anything done to it! But the internet is a vent for folks having problems~ so, this is a problem for many. My husband and I were talking about, how many of these were sold world-wide? However, there’s only a small fraction of people complaining that we know of.


I find the engine to be attractive, for an engine that is. I do like the fact that it has a timing chain vs a timing belt. Unfortunately, servicing the area where the serpentine belt lies and the bolt on’s is a PITA!

honda engine


Just moving right along~;) I had already had the front of this CR-V off already for replacement of the headlights, so removing all of that once again was no problem whatsoever! I’d have to say the most difficulty for me was disconnecting the radiator hoses and the 4 electrical connectors! They were really difficult to get apart! That being said, removing the radiator, though not absolutely necessary to remove the compressor according to the service manual, it’s just much easier to work on with the radiator out of the way.



Of course the condenser has to come out as it will be replaced! Once the system has been recovered by either a shop or if you just happen to have a recovery system, this has to be done first before breaking any lines loose. Don’t forget safety glasses! Sometimes refrigerant may be stuck in pockets and still have pressure that could surprise you! I work with my garage door open to keep the atmosphere ventilated as well~ so AC in the garage is off for the time being:(

AC reclaiming




Once the radiator and condenser are removed, the Keihin HS110r compressor is pretty much staring you in the face!




According to the 2002 Honda service manual this is how to replace the compressor:

1)If the compressor is marginally operable, run the engine at idle speed, and let the air conditioning work for a few minutes, then shut the engine off.
2)Make sure you have the anti-theft code for the radio, then write down the frequencies for the radio preset buttons.                                                                                                                    3) Disconnect the negative cable from the battery.                                                                      4) Recover the refrigerant with a recovery/recycling/charging station.                                         5) Remove the radiator reservoir tank.                                                                                      6) Remove the alternator.                                                                                                         7) Disconnect the compressor clutch connector(A),  remove the bolt and nut, then disconnect the suction line (B) and discharge line (C) from the compressor. Plug or cap the lines immediately after disconnecting them to avoid moisture and dust contamination.

Of course I’m going to be almost replacing the entire AC system, but if I had to replace just the AC compressor~ I’m not sure if I could accomplish replacing the AC compressor the way the book described! It’s incredibly tight! However in my case, I’m going to replace the upper and lower radiator hoses, water pump and Thermostat. I can’t imagine replacing the water pump without removal of the radiator! EEK!



 Removal of the drive belt: The picture shows a nice long 14mm wrench. I don’t have one of those like in the picture, do you? I just used the longest 14mm wrench with something to increase the length for leverage as the belt tensioner is strong! I had removed my RF headlight which gave me more room to work on. One doesn’t have to remove/install using a wrench from down below, any angle which works for you is fine~ the outcome is the same when it comes to the belt install/removal.drive belta


drive belt

With the headlight out of the way, I’m able to use my longest 14mm wrench, but also in combination with a 1/2″ breaker bar inserted into the open end of the wrench for maximum leverage. It’s testy, be careful!;) Most of the time, removal of the belt would be accomplished from below. I did make a special wrench like the one in the picture that made the job much “easier”. I may just order the factory wrench to have it on hand.

drive beltb


 The belt tensioner: In the third paragraph, I said I heard a subtle rattling noise, but the noise was only heard/felt when the AC kicked on at idle leading me to question the AC compressor. The belt tensioner was the cause of this particular noise. The spring become weakened over time but still able to keep the belt tight, but when the AC kicks on demanding more force on the belt, the weakened tensioner makes a noise, I could watch it moving a tiny bit when the AC was on. It’s not a bad replacement item. Remove the PS pump, this exposes the tensioner, the wrestle with removing the 3-12mm bolts. I bought the new part at Oreillys for about 70 bucks.




I removed the tensioner pulley to gain easier access to the hidden bolt. Be careful of the nut that is behind the pulley, it can fall out of its hole and fall into hidden places.



Below in the picture is where the serpentine belt tensioner bolts up;)

Tighten bolts to 16ft.lbs, that’s not incredibly tight~ You don’t want to break one of these bolts off! Note: If one was replacing the water pump, it would have been nice having the tensioner out of the way to get access to the upper water pump bolts!



With the radiator out of the way~ look at all the precious room to work!;)




Decisions have to be made along the way: Once this undesirable compressor has done its evil deed by blowing up, it supposedly sends particles throughout the system that may in the future mess up the system. So the evaporator and expansion valve may need to be replaced. The evaporator/expansion valve replacement will have its own blog, but in short, it’s doable!


Remove the alternator: Of course that being said, the serpentine belt needs to come off as just previously shown.

Note: disconnect the negative side of the battery and put the cable off to the side.



I placed a 4.6 wood block to support the alternator so I could disconnect it.





Then just put it aside, maybe inspect it just for fun~ We’re having fun! NOT



The compressor is held on by four long bolts, 14mm IIRC, then the pigtail which was disconnected when the radiator was removed. Of course the AC lines now have been undone and set off to the side. Now the compressor may be lifted a tad and it will be free to be removed. It has some handy lips that keep it in place while being bolted/unbolted as you’ll see! Those lips would be very useful if replacing the compressor without removal of the radiator!


Important note and observation: Once off, it’s my inquisitive nature to take things apart and see what happened!! I don’t know the theory behind a scroll compressor other than it’s an accident waiting to happen. After doing a little more research, I found that the compressor isn’t so much at fault, however the location of the compressor has poor ventilation to dissipate heat possibly facilitating the breakdown the refrigerant oil (system reliant upon refrigerant oil like an engine is to its oil). When I recovered the refrigerant with my Whites Industries reclaim machine, it only recovered 3/4 ounce of dirty looking refrigerant oil! From the factory, it is supposed to have 4.5 ounces. I blew out the condenser, evaporator, all lines, only to find the minutest amount of oily residue remnant. I just wonder if the systems are being filled correctly from the factory? There’s a blog on here with more detail of the compressor.


So, after reviewing the previous picture, one can see why the entire AC system has to be replaced due to debris more than likely making its way throughout the system. However, some take a chance by flushing the system and hope for the best!

However(again), the filter/drier on the side of the condenser may be the saving grace! It is serviceable and can and does catch small particles. Here we go~ BUT, upon observing the recovered refrigerant oil, it was mucky sludgy looking stuff!

My thoughts~ perhaps would be a good idea to have this particular system totally reclaimed about every 30-40 thousand miles, analyzed, then recharged! This less costly procedure may postpone the inevitable of the compressor locking up, plus~ since the filter/dryer is serviceable, replace it as well, like in the picture below. However, if small fragments are discovered in the filter and desiccant, the compressor may have to be replaced sooner!


The desiccant and filter removed.



Opinion: I have to ask myself, is replacing the entire AC system absolutely necessary?:(

This is just a thought, but if the dryer/filter is doing its job, seems like replacing all the rest of the parts shouldn’t be absolutely necessary. Perhaps if one was driving at say highway speeds, and the compressor locks up then metal debris will be jettisoned through the lines, or will it?  When the compressor locks up, I wouldn’t think it would have a sudden burst of pressure to send particles throughout the system! However, If this new compressor locks up, I may just replace the compressor and the filter and see if that will get it going again instead of replacing the entire AC system! Tell me what you think? Is it just a ploy by the dealership to sell the entire AC package to an unsuspecting customer? “hey”, says the service writer, “you take a chance if you just replace the compressor/filter”! In essence, there would be no warranty and the risk is yours.

IMG_3608 IMG_3609

During my research, it’s noted that it’s “OK” to just flush the evaporator due to the tubes are large and the notion of metal debris getting caught is less likely to occur, but in order to flush the evaporator, one would have to remove the expansion valve, to remove the expansion valve, the evaporator would have to be removed to get access to the expansion valve to unbolt it! ha! Though the removal of the evaporator isn’t too bad to get access to, however it’s not my favorite part of this repair!

But, I will say, that upon examination of the evaporator, I could find no evidence of debris, furthermore, to flush the evaporator, it’s kind of impossible since the expansion valve won’t let anything get by it to actually flush the evaporator.

Water pump and Thermostat

This is a “While I’m at it” kind of thing!  This SUV has right a 80k miles and it has the original water pump and thermostat~ I’d be a fool not to change those! It’s accessible right now~ I don’t want to have to go back into this engine compartment for a while! Even though it’s accessible, it’s still a pain to get to the 6- 10mm bolts that hold it on! You will go through an assortment and wrenches, sockets and extension, and be kind of a finger/hand contortionist to get to some of the bolts! There’s one bolt in particular that’s a really PITA, but a long extension with a 10mm universal would make that much easier~ I didn’t have a 10mm universal, so I had to do it with a 10mm wrench.


If you hadn’t replaced the idler pulley, now is also a good time to do so. It’s held by one 14mm bolt, be careful not to lose the nut. With the idler pulley out of the way, it just makes  for a little more room to work.  Room is definitely lacking in this area! But in all honesty, just replace the entire belt tensioner assembly! The springs become weakened and can make a subtle rattling noise.

IMG_3589 IMG_3594  IMG_3592



Here I had removed the 0-ring type gasket.


I found a new Honda water pump on Ebay for about 80 bucks vs 160 from the dealer.




Thermostat: See just to the right of the compressor. That’s the thermostat/housing. I believe the thermostat is made into the housing, so you buy it as a unit. I found an OEM Honda replacement for about 30 bucks vs. 64.oo from the Honda dealer!  Again, this is an area we don’t venture very often! So, replace it now!

IMG_3573 IMG_3574


Looking behind the thermostat kind of scares me! See that heater hose? It will probably last forever, and I’m not replacing it, but if it should ever spring a leak, it would be a chore to replace~ no other comments here.IMG_3613


Just an added picture the thermostat.IMG_3600

What compressor do I buy?  I’m torn as most would be~ do I go cheap or expensive?  Just a new compressor from Honda is probably around 800 bucks. I don’t know for sure, but I’m sure it’s pricey! I also need an evaporator, expansion valve, condenser, etc. I found the entire system on eBay from Buyautoparts.com, to have the entire system for 521.oo with free shipping! I took a chance and bought this system.

As it stands now, the eBay system fit very well with only minor differences. The new hoses were very nice and fit perfectly as well! Right now the AC system is working perfectly putting out 40 degree air. The pump is quiet. How long will it last? I don’t know!:(  If it were to blow up again, I know I could replace it very quickly, but I sure don’t want to make a habit of replacing the entire AC system on this Honda! I know if it were to break, I’d put another compressor then go trade it in. I could not look a person in the eye to sell it out right knowing it may fail again. At least at a dealer, a buyer could buy an extended warranty and have this taken care of under warranty.


Ebay compressor set

I can do just about anything that I feel is within my ability. If a person were to take a chance on just replacing the AC compressor and condenser(filter/dryer is made onto the condenser), I think that would be sufficient unless the compressor blew up badly sending shrapnel through the system. However I would think the filter/dryer does prevent debris from getting to the evaporator, but if a tiny piece was to get into the expansion valve, it could get stuck. Then condenser tubes are very small and could restrict flow. Since the filter/dryer is part of the condenser and the condenser isn’t too costly from aftermarket and is pretty much an easy replacement part~ replace it.

At this time, this Honda has been on the road for a few hundred miles and the AC is still working just fine. How long will it last? It’s man-made, and nothing man-made lasts forever.;) I know how to replace it all now!  If you should have a question, write me;)

dne’  your car enthusiast friend!;)

24 Responses so far.

  1. JB says:

    What you did summarizes what I will be doing in the next few days. 30 other sites concluded in what this gentleman has posted (i.e. replacing all the parts, not just a compressor etc.). I will also be vacuuming out the system and flushing the rest of the other smaller lines (e.g. flush gun, vacuum pump). I also plan to replace the tensioner and serpentine belt. I am not likely changing my water pump for another 2 or 3 years (avg. 10k miles per year). Thanks for the pics, it will act as a reminder along the way.

  2. CDH says:

    This is a beautiful piece of art you have created here. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to post this, I think it will help spare me a massive headache.

    • admin says:

      I’m so happy to hear this! I’ve been getting many hits on this topic, but you’re the first to comment~ 😉 If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to help with what I know.
      dne’ 😉

  3. George Dailey says:

    This is beyond beautiful. I would call it the picasso of crv compressor replacement procedures. It’s a smoothe read without the bitter after taste. I’m about to do my 3rd replacement. 1st was compressor, dryer, filter. 2nd was all of the above plus evaporator, condenser, expansion valve, also added a Parker liquid refrigerant filter just before the inlet to the expansion valve, and a refridgerant strainer on the suction side of the compressor. Lines were flushed & mechanically cleaned & blown dry. If the compressor went supernova, my hope was to contain it and not have to spend so much money. The post mortem autopsy will be interesting I’m sure. I thought about your perodic flushes. Heres another idea I may do with the 3rd replacement, add a sight glass just before my parker filter and inspect it periodically. Easier than flush & recharge…but it might lead to that anyway. The CRV ac system is a epic fail. I’m sure honda cried all the way to the bank with the cash they made from it. It changed my opinion of them. Great work dne007. Don’t stop doing what you do. It’s clearly your calling. Are you a guy or gal?


    • admin says:

      Thank you George for such a positive and informative response! I Like your ideas! As for my gender, Since I’m right around the corner of 60 y/o, I prefer to be called a Lady~ 😉
      On another note about the compressor, I hear there is another direct bolt up compressor available, but I’ve yet to find out about it:( Just curious, since it’s your possible 3rd compressor, are you removing it without removal of the radiator like the factory service manual says? Thanks!!! dne’

      • George Dailey says:

        Yep. It would be great to put a sanden compressor on one of these. But, I couldn’t find anything either. I replaced both compressors without removing the radiator. If memory serves me, 1st compressor was removed from below. I actually loosened the cradle bolts to drop it down just enough to clear. I remember the pain of doing it. The second one was removed by losening the radiator and leaning it forward. I think some other components (power steering) had to also be removed. This method was also painfull. The crv is kinda like that box in the hell raiser movie. Once you move the parts, the pain will come.

        • admin says:

          Hey George, thanks for the input on changing a the compressor without removal of the radiator. I know the factory service manual says so, but doing it knowing where the compressor is located = Pain! lol There’s this deep unsettling feeling knowing one day my daughter is going to call and say her AC quit working with an associated noise~ sigh:( If so, I think I’d just go ahead and pull the radiator and condensor again to make life easier despite the added work. I suppose the guys/gals doing it on a regular basis have it down to a fine art and can probably swap out an entire AC system in only a few hours!;) Lucky them while pocketing some dollars! lol
          dne’ 😉

  4. Lawerence says:

    how much pag 46 oil did you put in the system? I will be replacing just the compressor on my mom’s car. she has 150k miles and will trade it in later this yr. I ordered a aftermarket compressor online which came with oil but it says to drain that oil out and replace with PAG 46, but I don’t know how much to put. do I just drain out whats in the old compressor (measure it, drain oil in new compressor then add the amount measured that was in the old compressor?) plz advise

    • admin says:

      Hi Lo, yes, generally you do just what you said, drain the old refrigerant oil into a measuring cup, then add your new oil into your new compressor, but add a little more due to you can’t possible drain out all of it. Is this a case of an exploding compressor? or are you just replacing it because it’s “old”? IF the compressor did indeed lock up, you may have some debris in your lines, but you must have read my blog so you would know this;) You may contact me at Classiccarsandtools.com if you’d like more assistance.

      PS: on your new compressor after the oil is added, but sure to turn the compressor over by hand at least 20 times to prep it! very important!

  5. Lo says:

    Ok, i took the old compressor off this evening, i drained just a tad over an OUNCE out. I drained the new compressor which had 4 ounces in it. I figured i would put what I took out the OLD compressor so I went back with 1.5 ounces of PAG in the new compressor. The clutch was bad on my old compressor but decided to change the whole compressor. I didnt blow any lines out. I’m planning on only changing the compressor and the serpitine belt. The car is for my mom who does not havs much money i picked up the compressor and clutch and a belt for $200 on ebay. We plan to run the car a little more then hope to trade it in for one with a little less miles. Your blog has been a life saver!! Any suggestions are welcome!

    • admin says:

      Good morning Lo, sounds like you’ve got this under control;) Just be sure to evacuate the system, then recharge the system and you should be good to go! The CRV’s are a good vehicle and it should still serve your mom well. As with all machines, things wear out and break. Good deal on the compressor, and new compressor from the Dealer is Out of sight! Hopefully you’ll be generating cold air soon!! 😉 dne’

  6. mike says:

    Hi, This is really helpful. I was going to start on it next weekend. I was wondering if you think it is worth it to replace the AC bypass pulley. I don’t know about all the terminology, but did you replace the serpentine belt tensioner and pulley (is that what is called the idler pulley)? Thanks again.

    • admin says:

      Good morning Mike! you know right now, my blog regarding the CRV AC is my highest visited blog! Honda really messed up on that compressor! OK, back to your question regarding the idler pulley, mine was making a subtle noise when the AC was on, very irritating; not terribly noisy. It was hard to identify. But yes, all the work that you’ll be doing, go ahead and replace it. Are you planning to replace the compressor by pulling the radiator or do it the way Honda says(replacing it with the radiator still in tact?)? On my blog you saw that I replaced just about everything that was bolted on(water pump, idler pulley, thermostat), but sure to shop for your parts and have EVERYTHING necessary so you don’t have to run to the parts store. I bought some things off of ebay and saved a great deal on a couple things. I wish you the best of luck and if you run into any problems, give me a shout!;) Thank you for visiting my blog!!;)

      • mike says:

        Hi Dne,
        I will do it the same way as you. I will replace the water pump and thermostat as well since the car has over $150k miles. Compressor, water pump, thermostat, idler pulley, belt, condenser, expansion valve, AC hose from compressor to condenser, o-rings, pag46 oil, came out to be around $525. Hopefully everything will get here before next weekend. The local mechanic was going to charge me $1700 for just the AC work alone.. Thanks again for posting everything and offering to answer questions. I did the expansion valve last weekend. I got the blower motor out somehow without removing the ECM.. But when I tried to put it back in, I couldn’t figure out how I got it out so I removed the ECM. It was much easier after that… Should have just saved myself the grief if I just took it out…

      • David L. says:

        Its fascinating that after some 3 years that this is still so widely viewed, and even more impressive that you’re still getting and answering questions on it!

        I wonder if you could answer one more (simple?) diagnostic question on this.
        My son’s 2003 CRV AC just stopped working. I’ve evaluated the switches, fuses, relays, etc. but the clutch is not engaging. Before I pull the entire front end just to get to the clutch electrical connector to test it manually, can you confirm the symptoms of the “exploded” compressor?

        Specifically, it seems to me that if the scrolls were the issue, the clutch would still engage and either the compressor would turn and make horrible noises, or the compressor would be frozen and therefore the belt would be slipping (and making different horrible noises!). Is that correct, or could the self-destructed compressor result in the symptoms I’m seeing?

        The fact that the clutch doesn’t seem to engage at all suggests to me that this is either an electrical issue or a clutch issue, but not necessarily a catastrophic failure. Basically if it is the clutch I should be able to get away with just replacing the compressor (or even clutch?) but if its the scrolls I have to replace basically the whole AC system.

        My immediate next step is to figure out whether there is any way to get to the clutch electrical connector for testing without removing everything you’ve demonstrated above.

        Thanks for answering if you have time.


  7. Chuc I. says:

    I am so happy and sad that I ran across this page. I just bought my sons 2002 CRV and haven’t even picked it up yet and he told me the air isn’t working properly. He lives about 6 hours away and I’ll pick it up in a few weeks…

    Happy, since this page details so clearly how to repair what Honda messed up. Sad, because I need to spend this much time, effort, and money to repair what Honda messed up!

    Thanks Dne’!!

    • admin says:

      Hi Chuc! I’m so sorry to hear about this; I know exactly how you must feel! Let me guess, it has right at 80k miles? Just that most folks with this problem, the compressor locked up at around 80k! Crazy! Well, when you get it home, check it out, it’s not difficult to check the compressor to see if it is actually locked up. Get with me when your ready. 😉
      dne’ 😉

  8. Mike Y says:

    Thanks for this info, really helpful! I am wondering about the lines. Do they need to be replaced ? I have ordered them but can’t figure out how to get them out from where they go in firewall to the expansion valve. Should they just pull out from the metal plate holding them? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • admin says:

      Hi Mike! Welcome to my blog! Even though I replaced the AC lines as it came in the repair kit, after looking at the old ones, I didn’t see anything wrong with the hoses. I’d say leave the hoses alone, but it’s kind of a darned if you do;darned if you don’t! To get the hose off of the expansion valve, I believe it’s just a bolt (10mm IIRC) then it will come off, located on the passenger side firewall; just follow the ac lines. May have to wiggle it a little bit, but should come off relatively easy. How much work are you planning? (i.e, water pump, thermostat, ?)

  9. Dennis Kelly says:

    Den .Just like to say what an excellent article.Now wondering about the noise i am hearing from the vicinity of the idler pully ,ie slight rumbling and possiable visable movment (only when air con and fan on) .air con apears to be working ok ,but not using it to prevent possiable further damage.I am now thinging it could possably be the return spring? My wife was driving the car
    and said she heard a bang after which the noise could be heard

    • admin says:

      Hi Dennis, thank you for the compliment! My idler also made a noise only when the AC was on. It was just weak enough to cause the subtle rattling noise, but not so visible to see it happening. Keep in mind this tensioner maintains the correct tightness on the serpentine belt(which operates water pump, power steering pump, Alternator, AC, etc) and the spring is built into it. You may want to go ahead and replace it, it’s a little testy to replace, but may solve your mysterious problem. As for the “bang”, I’m not sure of what that could be. You just have to pop the hood and to some diagnosing. So your AC system is working OK? Good luck! let me know what you find, thus helping others!
      dne’ 😉