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Old 04-04-2015, 08:29 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Calgary
Posts: 48
heizervr6 is on a distinguished road
DIY - A/C Clutch Repair for less than $30 (3.0si)

So we recently had this grinding noise coming from the front of the car that kept getting progressively louder. It was clearly some sort of bearing noise but it wasn't clear as to where it was coming from. Having recently replaced the serpentine belt along with tensioner rollers it wasn't likely that one of those would already be failing but I was worried that it might be a camshaft bearing as it was coming from the passenger side and sounded like it was near the top. After putting a stethoscope to the head it was clear that the noise was coming from the lower end of that side, thankfully!!!

The A/C belt on the x5 3.0si is a stretch belt which means there is NO tensioner. To remove this belt the easiest way is to either cut it (if you're certain that it's shot and you won't be reinstalling it) or to put a rag around the lower portion of the belt and while you're pulling it towards the front of the car while you have a second person turn over the engine (clockwise) using a 22mm socket on a pry bar or ratchet with a handle extension so that you can reuse it if so desired.

In any case, once the belt has been removed and you notice that noise is gone with the engine running (you can run fine without the A/C belt on the N52N engine as the compressor is the only accessory driven by this belt) you've now isolated the origin of the noise. Most shops, if not all, will at this point tell you that you need to replace the entire compressor which equals big $$$ for parts and labor. Here's my $30 fix.

NOTE: I accept no responsibility for the outcome of this repair and/or any damage that may occur as a result of attempting this.

Tools required:
- 13mm Socket
- 22mm Socket
- T30 Torx
- Appropriate sized gear puller
- 1-1.5" bolt with the same thread pattern and width as the torx on the front of the A/C clutch
- Small mirror (your wife won't notice one missing make-up mirror - besides it's still cheaper to replace that than to take your X5 in to the shop)
- Ratchets to work with the above
- Breaker bar or socket handle extension
- Press with a 36mm socket or bench vise
- Stretch Belt 11 28 7 552 084
- Stretch Belt Installation Tool (you have to ensure that it will fit over the lip on the A/C pulley - this was my issue and I ended up doing it by hand carefully)
- A/C Compressor Clutch Bearing - I cross-referenced the bearing # on the original clutch and determined that one made by Santech Industries with the part # MT2021 is a perfect replacement. You will need to double-check yours and a quick google search may confirm the same part in your case.

Step 1: Open the hood and remove the air intake snorkel by using a flathead screwdriving and lifting out the center part of the expanding rivets on each side

Step 2: Remove the four 13mm sockets holding down the cross-brace along with the cable attached to it. The cross-brace is removed by sliding it to the right as far as possible and then lifting out the passenger side.

Step 3: Unplug the electric fan by squeezing both sides of the connector with your hands

Step 4:
Remove the electric fan. This can also be done without the use of any tools. Starting on the driver's side, push a small clip and gently lift up on the fan shroud (DO NOT grab any rotating parts as they can crack, especially the outer ring circling and fastened to the individual fan blades). Once that slide can be slightly lifted up you will need to fold in the "ear" as seen in the picture below. Once you have done this, push the same tab on the passenger side and gently lift out the entire fan assembly ensuring that it does not catch anything on the way up

Step 5:
Grab a piece of cardboard to protect the radiator while you start working on the front of the engine. Then grab your T30 torx and remove the front part of the clutch. You will notice that if you grab the pulley it will be turning with some resistance and feeling "rough" signifying a shot bearing. The front part that you are about to remove off the splined shaft should be stationary. The torx bolt should not require a lot of force to remove and you should be able to hold the clutch part well enough to loosen the bolt (it is NOT reverse threaded). This is what it looks like once it has been removed (you may have to wiggle it off the splined shaft)

Step 6:
This is the difficult part. You need to remove the other portion of the clutch. Using your circlip pliers (ones that force the circlip to the outside) remove the circlip. This can take a while if you're using a mirror and you'll want to ensure you have plenty of light to see what's going on. Once the circlip was removed, I used a puller like the one pictured below. This puller ended up not being ideal due to the angle of the arms as it could have grabbed better since the lip on the back side of the clutch pulley is small. The center of the puller should be positioned up against something to as to not cause any damage and I think I ended up placing the front of the clutch back on to allow for a proper turning surface but you may have a better option

Step 7:
Once the pulley has been removed you may notice that your bearing is now completely shot and doesn't allow for any movement at all. Compare your replacement bearing to ensure it looks the same (I had put mine in the freezer beforehand to ensure an easier fit) as the old one

Step 8:
Remove the old bearing. I used a combination of a 36mm socket (ratchet side on the front of the bearing - as in the part facing the front of the car as it needs to be pushed out the back). A press or bench vise will come in handy so long as you have enough room on the backside to allow the bearing to come out.

Step 9:
Using your old bearing on top of the new one, press in the new one from the back right after you have removed it from the freezer. Ensure that it goes in straight and is not cock-eyed. Pushing it in should be fairly easy and straightforward

Step 10:
Press the clutch pulley back onto the compressor. This part was tricky. I ended up using a 1.5" bolt along with a bunch of washers and a hammer to gently tighten and subsequently tap the clutch pulley back into place, rotating it as a I went buy attaching the outer clutch portion and putting two large rubber O-rings in between the two parts so as to not damage them. I used the side of the hammer head and made sure the cardboard was in place to protect the radiator. This ended up taking the longest as the sliver aluminum ring by the compressor has to completely disappear inside the pulley!!! You'll know you're finished when you can see the groove for the circlip to fit back into place. SUPER FINICKY!

Step 11:
In this step you may need to put the washer that was formerly on the outside of the clutch (under the head of the torx bolt) and move it to the inside (you can sort of see it in this picture). You will notice this when you tighten the torx and the clutch will be tightly mated to the clutch pulley. This has something to do with the new bearing but I'm not sure why as the size appeared to be virtually identical but I read a post where someone else had the same issue and fix.

Step 12:
Ensure that everything spins freely and looks good. Next you will have to reinstall or install a new stretch belt. My stretch belt tool didn't work properly on the A/C pulley due to the lip but I was able to put enough pressure on it from the bottom with my hands while I had someone else slowly turn the engine for me clockwise using the 22mm socket. Make sure that you do a full rotation so ensure that the belt is properly seated in all of the grooves

Step 13:
Reinstall the fan (don't forget to plug it in and again do not grab any of the fan blades or ring surrounding them) as well as the crossbrace and snorkel for the air cleaner box.

Step 14:
You should notice that with the A/C off that the outer portion of the clutch will be stationary. Once you turn on your A/C the entire assembly should be spinning.

NOTE: There can be a reason for the clutch bearing to fail which will mean that the A/C compressor needs to be replaced. In my case the shaft did not appear to have any play in it so fingers are crossed that it was just an external bearing failure at 236,000 km/146,670 miles

Last edited by heizervr6; 04-04-2015 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:41 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: vancouver,Canada
Posts: 184
ninja_zx11 is on a distinguished road
good job and thanks for sharing!!
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Calgary
Posts: 48
heizervr6 is on a distinguished road
Originally Posted by ninja_zx11 View Post
good job and thanks for sharing!!
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Old 04-22-2015, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: UK
Posts: 2
samer is on a distinguished road

Thanks too
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Old 04-22-2015, 12:34 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Calgary
Posts: 48
heizervr6 is on a distinguished road
Originally Posted by samer View Post
Thanks too
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