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98 Mazda 626ES A/C clutch bearing replacement

Old 06-30-2015, 11:03 PM
MJCougler's Avatar
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Default 98 Mazda 626ES A/C clutch bearing replacement

As a public service for Mazda 626 owners, I'm editing this entire procedure that I found on a Saturn site, with links to the Saturn photos. These links refer to the Saturn page the photos are on.

After a lot of research in different forums, I replaced my A/C clutch bearing a couple of weeks ago. It was really rough, noisy, and getting worse. I was worried it would fail soon. I found a Saturn repair procedure with pictures which helped me. So, I am editing those procedures to match what I did to repair my 1998 Mazda 626ES to help others who might want to give this procedure a try. Since my A/C is still working a couple of weeks later, I decided to post how I did this repair.

The bearing is 35mm ID, 55mm OD, 20mm Wide, purchased from AutoZone, Santech part number MT2021. This bearing is available online and on eBay as well. I needed a 3 jaw puller which you can possibly sign-out from the major auto parts stores. I did not need any special tools except snap ring pliers, large sockets, a drift pin/punch set, and a Dremmel tool.

Remove the serpentine belt after loosening the tensioner pulley bolt with a 17mm, long handle wrench and a 14mm, 6-point socket on an extension. I did not unplug the clutch wire connector. Before removing the compressor, I used a large square shank screwdriver across the ***** on the face of the clutch and the side of the socket to loosen (and later tighten) the 10mm bolt on the compressor shaft. I loosened the four compressor mounting bolts, 13mm, and suspend the compressor from above with a piece of strong parachute cord. This allowed clearance for the 3-jaw puller.

I gently pried the clutch plate by prying a little, and rotating the pulley 90-degrees and prying again and rotation the pulley until the clutch finally came apart. Do not pry against or damage the electro-magnetic coil behind the clutch pulley. IMPORTANT: When removing the clutch plate, be careful to not lose the shim washers under the clutch plate from the compressor center shaft. These washers establish the correct gap spacing when the clutch magnet is energized.

Next, remove the outer snap ring behind the clutch using snap ring pliers. Set it aside where you will not lose it.

Use a 3 jaw puller and a deep enough socket to remove the pulley. DO NOT PUSH against the compressor shaft. Use the socket over the shaft to push against the compressor housing where the bearing presses onto it.

Here is the pulley off of the compressor.

The bearing was staked into the pulley in about a dozen places. Understand that the staking holds the bearing into the pulley and they have to be completely ground away so that the bearing can be driven out past the stakes. You’ll need to use a Dremmel tool with a small grinding disc to grind out the stakes. Be careful not to remove any excess metal.

Put a large, wide socket under the bearing while you are first getting the bearing to move to create a firm, solid surface. I then used a hammer and a large flat screwdriver to drive out the bearing. I had to hit the screwdriver by holding it at an angle so as to hit the top of the bearing to get the bearing started to move. Hit the bearing a little at a time and hit around the bearing every quarter or third the way around the bearing. Hit the bearing a little at a time, rotating around the top of the bearing. Eventually you will need to place two 2x4 pieces of wood under the pulley on either side of the bearing to get the bearing out. Eventually it will come out enough that you could place the tip of the screwdriver at an angle on the top edge of the bearing, being careful not to gouge the smooth walls of the pulley where the new bearing will go. You don't want to hit too hard. The center is recessed, and you don’t want to warp or break the pulley hammering it unsupported in the center.

With the bearing out, I used the Dremmel tool with a small grinding wheel to smooth any rough edges that may scrape the new bearing. Use sandpaper to gently clean crud from the surfaces where the new bearing will go, and then rub oil on the surfaces to help the bearing to slide better as the new bearing is being driven back in. I placed a large socket against the outer edge of the bearing, gently hitting the socket with a hammer on the edge of the socket all around the edge, a little at a time to get it started, and to drive it in. Be sure to drive the bearing from the outside race so not to damage the bearing. You could also use the old outer race and tap on the edge of the old race as a drift to drive the bearing in. If you use the old race, be sure to sand away a thousandth of an inch of the outer surface of the race so It does not get “stuck” in the opening. Later, I used the inner race in the same way to drive the pulley back on.

Hint: to get the old bearing apart, pull the grease seals, pull out the plastic bearing spacers, move all the ball bearings to one side, tilt the inner race and the bearings will then fall out.

When I was sure the bearing was driven all the way in, I re-staked the bearing with a 5/32 punch in between where the stakes had been previously. Clean the center shaft the bearing will press over with sandpaper, and apply a light coat of oil.

I used a 1 1/4" socket as a drift to get the pulley started back onto the compressor housing. Push only against the inner race to reinstall the pulley, and be sure not to hit or damage the compressor center shaft. After it went on far enough, I was able to use a 1-1/2" X 3/8" fender washer and the 10mm bolt to pull the pulley the rest of the way on. Apparently, you can pull with the compressor shaft, but not push.

The center shaft will pull it on only so far. I then had to use the inner race of the old bearing to drive the bearing all the way, firmly onto the housing. Remember to grind the old race with a Dremmel tool, a sander, or use sandpaper so the race won't become stuck in the housing. The picture below is the compressor with the old race being used as a drift.

With the pulley fully seated, coat the snap ring with oil and reinstall the snap ring, beveled side out. Use strong short nose pliers to squeeze the snap ring to make sure it is firmly seated in the groove. You can also gently tap the edge of the snap ring with the tip of a flat screwdriver and a light tap of the hammer to make sure the snap ring is firmly seated.

Clean both spline surfaces to remove the crud and apply a thin coat of oil to both surfaces. Carefully place the shims on the shaft and reinstall the clutch. Make sure the splines are lined up and gently tap on a socket against the center of the clutch. When on far enough, use the 10mm bolt to pull the clutch the rest of the way until tight. Again, use a large square shank screwdriver across the ***** on the face of the clutch and the side of the socket to tighten the 10mm bolt on the compressor shaft. Don’t torque the bolt too much as to NOT strip or break the center shaft. Check the clearance of the clutch gap. It was .027 in all 3 places. If the gap is too large, the clutch will not apply enough pressure against the pulley, and it will slip.

This is a good time to replace the serpentine belt and/or tensioner idler pulley. I then reinstalled the belt and carefully tightened the belt, but not too tight. I started the car and turned on the air to see if the belt squealed. Adjust the belt only a quarter turn at a time to get it just the right tension to prevent squealing when the A/C clutch engages. Remember to loosen the idler pulley bolt each time you adjust the belt tension and then tighten the idler pulley bolt. If the belt tension is too tight, it will cause all of the bearings on that belt to wear out prematurely.

Leave the A/C on, listen to and watch the A/C clutch engage and disengage, and check the air to ensure it is cooling. If the clutch is not engaging, possibly you forgot to hook up the clutch wire. Remember too, if the A/C coolant (formerly called Freon) charge is too low, this also prevents the A/C clutch from engaging.

In summary, the bearing was worn out. The Mazda service manager asked a mechanic if the A/C clutch bearing is changeable, and they both said it is not. The parts guy said there is no listing for an A/C clutch bearing. And my favorite mechanic down the street looked at my pulley with the warn bearing and he could not see how the bearing can be pressed out since it was staked in. They all said the bearing is not changeable. It is rewarding knowing that I fixed it for $23. I did not need to buy a complete clutch kit, a new compressor, and I did not need a complete A/C flush and recharge. I took about five hours of work, slowly and carefully doing this whole process. This was not the easiest job, but I managed to get it done with the tools that were in my garage. I hope this helps others to brave this procedure with less trial and tribulation.

Thanks again to everyone that takes the time to type-out these repair blogs. I would have sold the Mazda if I had to pay to evacuate the old Freon, install a new compressor and drier, and pay someone to flush and charge the whole system. If it wasn't for the numerous repair forums, internet videos, and blogs telling me how to repair my vehicles, I would not have braved many of the repairs, nor learned to do many of the repairs to all of my vehicles.
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