Dang Bolt has walked itself out or snapped a few times now – figured it was worth a write-up.
This is my third time replacing either this clutch face or the bolt that holds it in over the last few years. The first time the wife heard a loud bang on the freeway during winter. Come summer the AC wasn’t working, upon inspection, the clutch face was gone. Loud band=screw snapped and clutch face probably ruined someone’s day on the freeway that day.
Second time about a month ago, heard what I thought was a pulley bearing going bad (metal whining/rubbing on serpentine belt area). Upon inspection, the clutch face was sitting at the bottom of the splash guard resting on the AC pulling. So that was the sound of metal rubbing metal at ultra high speeds. In this case half of the bolt was still in the threading.
Finally, a few weeks ago on a road trip a few hours away in San Diego, AC stopped working on a 110 degree day. I already knew at this point. Luckily we were at a mechanic having them check out our new Volvo XC purchase. Didn’t want to drive home with the clutch face bouncing around, or risk having it jump into some moving parts, so they were able to fish it out and I tossed it in the trunk.
So the first one lasted a few years, the second a few weeks and this last one, hopefully forever. Proper bolts, torque specs and maybe some Loctite will help you avoid all this should you have to complete the job.
Start by loosening your lugs, jack up car, secure on a jack stand and remove your wheel.
Next will be removing the fender well lining. There are 8-10 T25 torque screws around the outside, and 2 10mm plastic nuts on each side of the shock tower.
Now you have access. Here below we see the clutch compressor face, sans clutch plate.
You can purchase the bolt and shims from Volvo for less than $5, Part Number: 31332161. The problem we had was that the local dealer did not have it in stock, and would take a few days. Ordering online was about the same result. We were going to fix it today, so we simply bought our own kit at the hardware store for $1.50.
The bolt is M6X1.0, and while we weren’t able to use our bolt sizer for length (the bolt snapped off last time and we recovered only half of it), we counted the threads on the image on the Volvo website parts link above. 14 threads. So off to the hardware store and found that matching bolt.
Don’t forget the washers (I mean shims…). I took the clutch face plate with me, and with the new bolt, I found the proper size thin washers that would both fit around the bolt, but also fit inside the propeller shaft.
and then bought enough to keep me good for a few years, and store them in a bag in my trunk.
Next you start shimming. The good old Goldilocks theory. A little to much, a little to little, just right. Place some shims and place your new screw. Tighten enough to hold that plate down.
Here are the 3 variables you are looking for when you turn your car on, of which only one is correct.
1. You do not have the AC on, but the AC clutch plate is spinning. This means you do not have enough space between the faceplate and the compressor. This also means your AC is always on.
2. You have too much space between the faceplate and the compressor. When you turn the AC on, the faceplate is too far away for the compressor magnet to pull the faceplate to the compressor to make it spin. This means you need remove shims to get it closer. In this position everything is there, but the AC wont function.
3. Just Right. The perfect amount of shimming (washers) will leave the faceplate locked when the AC is off, and then when you hit the AC, the magnet will pull the faceplate to the compressor and it will spin.
All done, a little Loctite, and torque it down to 17.7 ftlbs (24NM). Keep an ear out, and also next time you are under the wheel well, take a peek at your bolt to make sure it still looks solid.