A/C compressor coil snap ring (2008 Subaru Forester)

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Aug 15, 2009
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Hey guys,

I had a bearing failure on the pulley for my a/c compressor. The compressor still turns freely so i'm thinking it's still good and am just doing a full clutch kit. I've removed the clutch, bearing, and pulley. I'm down to the clutch coil and there's an external snap ring holding it in place. I have tried multiple snap ring pliers and none can reach it due to the weird angle and depth while the compressor is still installed on the car. I didn't want to have to evacuate the lines and pull the compressor just to get off one snap ring. Anyone done this before on a 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5L? I feel like I'm probably out of options. I am considering unbolting the compressor with the lines still charged and connected because if I can just lift it a few inches out I should have the room to get the snap ring out; however, i do worry I'll start losing refrigerant. I'm also not sure I've got the space to get one of the bolts out to do this with lines connected... Any thoughts or tips?

I can post a picture if it would help.
 
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not familiar with this Subaru compressor, but whenever I encounter a difficult to de-groove snap ring, there is usually a 'cleft' cut, on the end near each snap ring engagement hole, which allows a thin blade slotted screwdriver access to the backside, allowing the mechanic an access groove to release the snap ring without manipulation of just the holes. The cleft is usually hidden as the snap ring is properly seated, but most manufacturers tend to put that 'cleft' cut in there just for those difficult service procedures. I see it a lot on press-in wheel bearing snap rings, hope you have the same happy discovery I come across when I'm jammed up!
 
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If the lines leak because you moved them you need to replace them any way as they are junk! Just unbolt the compressor and move it enough to get to the snap ring being careful not to pinch the lines and damage them.
 
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Hey guys,

I had a bearing failure on the pulley for my a/c compressor. The compressor still turns freely so i'm thinking it's still good and am just doing a full clutch kit. I've removed the clutch, bearing, and pulley. I'm down to the clutch coil and there's an external snap ring holding it in place. I have tried multiple snap ring pliers and none can reach it due to the weird angle and depth while the compressor is still installed on the car. I didn't want to have to evacuate the lines and pull the compressor just to get off one snap ring. Anyone done this before on a 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5L? I feel like I'm probably out of options. I am considering unbolting the compressor with the lines still charged and connected because if I can just lift it a few inches out I should have the room to get the snap ring out; however, i do worry I'll start losing refrigerant. I'm also not sure I've got the space to get one of the bolts out to do this with lines connected... Any thoughts or tips?

I can post a picture if it would help.
You can swing that compressor all the over to the inside of the fender if you wanted to, plenty of play but you shouldn't have to. Regular 90 degree long snap ring pliers should work fine if doing it on the engine, if you have any you can use an angle pick to lift on ends then use a thin blade screw driver and work it out by going around it.
Pay attention to the direction of the snap ring (usually flat side out) and the clutch spacer(s), use the originals as a starting point, you may need to add or remove depending on the gap which you check after its assembled.
 

Soobs

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Well still working on it. The compressor will barely budge out of the mounting bracket with the bolts out. I'm not sure what's up. Hit all the points between the compressor and mount with PB Blaster and will give that a few to see if I can get any play. Starting to approach a point where I just hand this off to a shop though. All this trouble over a dang snapring.
 

Soobs

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You can swing that compressor all the over to the inside of the fender if you wanted to, plenty of play but you shouldn't have to. Regular 90 degree long snap ring pliers should work fine if doing it on the engine, if you have any you can use an angle pick to lift on ends then use a thin blade screw driver and work it out by going around it.
Pay attention to the direction of the snap ring (usually flat side out) and the clutch spacer(s), use the originals as a starting point, you may need to add or remove depending on the gap which you check after its assembled.
The compressor is on top of the engine, not by the fender. The issue is it's just a little too deep and only inches away from the radiator fan so I can't get any pliers in there. I have every kind of angled and straight snapring plier I could find (straight, 45, 90). I've got a little cheapo angled pick from HF, but not luck with it yet. I'll just take a break and come back to it in a bit. I've also considered using the dremel and a cutting disc to just cut out of section of the coil so i can easily get to the ring, but my better sense is telling me that's a bad idea.. i dunno! lol
 
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Joined
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The compressor is on top of the engine, not by the fender. The issue is it's just a little too deep and only inches away from the radiator fan so I can't get any pliers in there. I have every kind of angled and straight snapring plier I could find (straight, 45, 90). I've got a little cheapo angled pick from HF, but not luck with it yet. I'll just take a break and come back to it in a bit. I've also considered using the dremel and a cutting disc to just cut out of section of the coil so i can easily get to the ring, but my better sense is telling me that's a bad idea.. i dunno! lol
Ummm. Don't cut the coil. Can you post a pic of the currant situation?
 

Soobs

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Ummm. Don't cut the coil. Can you post a pic of the currant situation?
Sure!

I did do a light cut just to see how dumb of an idea that would be... not loving that route. Fire danger and it just seems silly, but i was getting frustrated. I have a new coil with the clutch kit so I didn't really care how wrecked this one gets, but i digress.

Just to recap, the clutch came off no problem. The pulley and bearing weren't much trouble either. The coil's copper wiring is all mostly pulled out. It was all a mess so I just pulled it all out. These two pics will give you an idea of the space I have to work with and you can see the snapring in the closeup. The ring holes were originally at the very bottom and i've managed to get it moved around a little to get a better grab, but still can't do it with a snapring pliers, angle pick, and/or flathead. I thought about pulling the radiator fan out, but according to the Haynes manual that appears to be another whole ordeal. I can't find a single video or forum post of anyone else that's done a clutch kit on this on this particular year/model.

IMG_5485.jpg
IMG_5482.jpg
 
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Did the hub bearing fail? If it did and it got so hot that it cooked the coil it likely also cooked the front seal. Just put a compressor on it.

Also I see a mounting bolt you still need to remove to get the compressor out.
 

Soobs

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Did the hub bearing fail? If it did and it got so hot that it cooked the coil it likely also cooked the front seal. Just put a compressor on it.

Also I see a mounting bolt you still need to remove to get the compressor out.
Yes the bearing failed. Got hot and destroyed the coil. Melted some clutch material. Wasn't pretty. I didn't consider that the front seal may be damaged, but the a/c was working great right up until the failure. The compressor still rotates freely when I put a new clutch on the spindle and move it so I just figured a full clutch kit was worth a shot. Yes, all the bolts are back in. I put them all back on as I still need a functioning car (minus the a/c for now).
 
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I know the compressor is on the engine, I did one of these a few months ago along with rebuilding the engine. If you read my post again I said there is enough play that you could swing it over to the fender if you wanted to, meaning there is no problem lifting up where you could gain better access.
No offense but you need better 90 degree snap ring pliers, that one is easy enough to do while it is mounted with the right tool.

Pulling the fan is a piece of cake on these, remove the metal shield (if used) on the lower part of the radiator then 2 10mm head screw bolts holding the L/side fan shroud all from underneath (some do not use any bolts in the shroud you just lift it out after removing the shield and upper bolts), remove the 2 bolts holding the shroud to the top of the radiator, remove the overflow bottle then the connector on the side of the fan shroud, that's it.
 
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Soobs

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I know the compressor is on the engine, I did one of these a few months ago along with rebuilding the engine. If you read my post again I said there is enough play that you could swing it over to the fender if you wanted to, meaning there is no problem lifting up where you could gain better access.
No offense but you need better 90 degree snap ring pliers, that one is easy enough to do while it is mounted with the right tool.

Pulling the fan is a piece of cake on these, remove the metal shield (if used) on the lower part of the radiator then 2 10mm head screw bolts holding the L/side fan shroud all from underneath (some do not use any bolts in the shroud you just lift it out after removing the shield and upper bolts), remove the 2 bolts holding the shroud to the top of the radiator, remove the overflow bottle then the connector on the side of the fan shroud, that's it.
Ah, I see what you mean.

No offense taken about my tools. I didn't own any snapring pliers prior to all this. Now I have six different pliers from three different brands in the search to find one that will get to this snapring. If you know of an angled external snapring plier that's got a long enough nose to reach that external snapring while the compressor is still seated in it's mount on the engine please refer it and I'll give it a try.

In regards to moving the compressor up I did try that. The rear bolt is long and doesn't come out due to another piece of the engine blocking it. The Haynes manual says I have to remove the entire mounting assembly with the compressor and then take the compressor out of the mount outside of the engine. There seems to be two compressor variants around the same years on this engine. One can easily be pulled right out and the other needs the entire mount to come with it. That's the best i've been able to dig up anyway.

Thanks for the tip on the radiator fan. I hadn't looked into how to get the bottom bolts out yet and at first glance it just seemed like a pain. I hope to have some free time today to take another look.
 
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Soobs

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Update:

Well hallelujah I got it!

My dumb self was missing a bolt on the compressor which is why I couldn't get it to move up earlier. Got the snapring off no problem once I was about to lift it out a bit and had some room to work. New clutch kit working flawlessly and the air is blow ice cold. No odd sounds or overheating. woohoo!

Thank you Trav, Chris142, and vw7674 for sending your ideas and expertise my way!
 
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