A/C noise on cold startup

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by evfanboy, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. evfanboy

    evfanboy New Member

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    My vehicle's (2014 PIP) radiator, condenser and few other associated parts were replaced at a body shop few days back. The radiator and condenser that were put in are non OEM while rest of the parts are OEM. Since the replacement, I've noticed that there's a very loud buzzing sound, similar to what's heard in this video:



    The sound is heard when the vehicle starts cold in EV mode (i.e. after sitting in garage overnight and ambient temperature in morning is around 55-60F) and the A/C is on (LO with one bar - done solely for testing). The sound lasts for a minute or so and then softens to what I would expect to be normal. The sound also stops the moment I turn off the A/C within the one minute startup interval. I've taken the vehicle for a re-check back to body shop and they didn't find anything wrong (i.e. checked refrigerant, condenser oil, presence of any OBD codes etc). Any ideas what could be the possible cause for this issue as I do not recollect having heard such a loud noise before i.e. with the original radiators and condensers the startup was virtually silent.

    P.S.: I've looked through similar threads here but see opposing views. Some point out that it's something normal while others conclude that condenser / condenser clutch needs to be replaced.
     
  2. Pluggo

    Pluggo Member

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    Just a few thoughts to help get the discussion rolling: I've heard that sound before in small electric motors. Thinking of fans and yard equipment, my novice guess would be that it is the sound of the commutator spinning against the motor brushes and that it is normal. Now, the electric motor powers the compressor, which itself is only a refrigerant pump , and considering all the refrigerators and air conditioners you've ever known, window units and central, when the compressor first kicks on there is a more or less severe load on the motor and oftentimes it runs loud, then quiets down after several seconds. My best guess would be that you are hearing the normal sound of the electric compressor motor working under the initial load of getting the refrigerant circulating properly. Presumably the installers checked the pressures and have the perfect amount of refrigerant plus oil in the system.
     
  3. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    From a video it's impossible to tell the actual volume compared to what was in there before, but if it's much louder than the old compressor, I'd chalk it up to a cheap, noisy, aftermarket compressor. If it's the result of an accident, I think the insurance company should pay for OEM parts.
     
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  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    mine is pretty noisy. sometimes i wonder if it's going out. even my wife asked what was making all the noise the other day.
     
  5. Yea Right

    Yea Right Member

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    X2
     
  6. evfanboy

    evfanboy New Member

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    Thank you all for the insights. Unfortunately I don't have a reference video to show a comparison of the volume but I'm 100% certain that the noise is unusually loud compared to the past. Hence I insisted the body shop get a second opinion and they agreed to have the car taken to the nearest dealer. At the dealer, the technician took a quick peek and agreed with my assessment. He's scheduled me for next week for a more detailed diagnosis and if any repairs/tweaks need to be done they will work it out - all paid by the body shop. Will update you folks of the findings.

    As for the insurance mandating non OEM parts...there's some fine print buried in the policy that allows them to substitute OEM parts with an equivalent when it's cheaper. Apparently they say that we give life time warranty for these parts. So there's nothing to worry. I guess I'll find out how reliable are these parts soon! BTW, I got educated on two fronts on using OEM parts by the insurance company (GEICO):

    1. You need to explicitly request to have this included in your policy and as a result your premium would be higher.
    2. GEICO has a rule that they will only permit to replace the installed non OEM part with a OEM part (in my case the condenser and radiator) if the non OEM part gets replaced three times!
     
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  7. Yea Right

    Yea Right Member

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    Interesting fine print, basically acknowledging non OEM is inferior.
     
  8. evfanboy

    evfanboy New Member

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    Update: The dealer diagnosed the problem to likely a damaged compressor. The compressor was replaced ($2800 bill!) and there is a noticeable difference to the sound. Now it is more like a slow humming noise, which is inline with my expectations.
     
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  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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  10. evfanboy

    evfanboy New Member

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    I too was surprised by the bill and am sure the repair could have been done for lot less. But as the insurance company is picking up the tab, the dealer billed everything at list prices! May be they will negotiate behind the scenes.
     
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  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    good point. glad you're whole again.(y)
     
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