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I have a 99 Regal with a 3800 engine (not turbo charged) with a malfunctioning A/C Compressor. Took the car in to have the refrigerant drained and my intent is to replace the compressor, accumulator and orifice tube. The first two are no problem. The orifice tube, however, is making my head hurt.

I believe I have correctly located the connection it fits into under the brake control box (not sure what the technical name for that is). My problem is, how in heaven's name is a person supposed to get at that thing to disconnect it and then actually remove the tube and replace it with a new one. Short of taking that control box out I don't think a wrench will even fit in there let alone turn.

I'm sure someone on this board knows the proper way do this and I would welcome your instruction.

Thanks in advance.
 

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lol there's a long grabber tool that you somehow have to contort into place. The one I used looked like a reverse 3 prong grabber(grabbers stuck out). I borrowed it from my father who uses on boats.
 

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FYI, I got the orifice tube out, replaced and everything put back together after a good bit of knuckle scraping and choice words about the designer(s) of this system. If anyone is interested, it went this way:

I had to move the braking control box out of the way by removing 3 bolts accessible from the front, driver's wheel well an a fourth nut that was inside the compartment. In order to move it very much I also moved the brake fluid reservoir which was held on by two nuts. I also moved the cruise control module by removing the two nuts that held it in place and holding it lifted out of the way by means of a wire attached to the latch of the hood. Once those were all out of the way, I was able to get a 26 mm open end wrench on it from just under and to the left of the connection. Using a 24 mm wrench to hold the other connecting nut in place I was about to loosen it a fews short turns until it I was able to reach it in with my hand and finish the disconnect.

In order to get the tube out, I disconnected the other end of the line at the joint up near the radiator. This took a 24 mm wrench on one nut and a 21 mm wrench on the other. This was made much easier by removing the air filter housing (which also meant removing that diagonal brace that helps hold the compartment together. Once both ends were loose I was able to tilt the pipe up and reach the orifice tube with needle nose pliers and pull it out. It was gross and certainly needed replacing.

Once the orifice tube was replaced, I put things back together again in about reverse order.

Questions I'd like a GM engineer (or anyone else who would like to take a crack at it) to answer someday:
1) Would it have killed you to put the connecter where the orifice tube is located up toward the FRONT of the engine compartment? What possible advantage in the system is gained by doing it this way?
2) Would it have killed you use the same combination of wrench sizes on both ends of the same line? That extra 26 mm wrench was about $25 and I have my doubts about how often I'll need to use it!
3) Given the gross quality of the orifice that came out, the relative inexpensive cost of the tube and the seeming advantage there would be to replacing it from time to time, did anyone consider making it possible to replace the orifice tube without have to completely open the system necessitating an evacuation and recharge?

There, now I've got that off my chest and am enjoying cool air in the Regal once again.

I'm still interested in comments of others have done this to let me now if I went about this right or if I should have done it a different way.
 
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