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Old 08-06-2003, 10:13 AM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC Metro Area
Posts: 365
A/C Metallic Smell and loss of charge

I recently purchased a 1995 E420 with 65k miles on it for $14k. Looks great - drives great.

However - 2 weeks ago the A/C wasn't getting cold at all - just blowing at ambient air temp (which in DC in summer ain't comfortable). I hadn't noticed a decrease in capability - just a sudden total lack of cooling. For about 3 days before the loss of the A/C - I could smell a funny odor - hard to describe, but strangely similar to band-aids (I know it's weird, but that's the only thing that really describes it). The smell could also be somewhat described as metallic.

I got the system charged (I had to have A/C for a drive to the beach) - and it totally lost cooling capability within 3 days. My mechanic noted that after charging, the aux fans weren't activating as they should. I replaced the resistor and it fixed this problem. What a pain in the ass to get to this part!

I got the system charged again - this time with dye to trace leaks, and it totally discharged within 2 days.

(Don't worry - i stopped using the system when the air got warmer - don't wan't to fry any parts unnecessarily).

Soe here are my questions:

1) Does anyone have experience with these failure symptoms? Does the smell tell you anything about where the leak might be coming from? I think that the smell could be A/C oil - but i don't know what it smells like.

My fear is that the evaporator has a huge leak and will need replacing. Someone please tell me that I'm wrong.

2) Also - would running the A/C without the aux fans damage the system in any way? I'm worried that without proper cooling, the high side pressure got too high and blew out a weak point in the system.

Thanks in advance,
Troy K.
1995 E420
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Old 08-06-2003, 10:49 AM
sab sab is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Ft Lauderdale
Posts: 85
The same thing happend to me with my S320. I noticed the smell before the AC ever stopped working. I was explained that this smell (I found it to be somewhat as the smell of a brand new electrical device) is an indication of a faulty evaporator. They checked it for leaks and it was replaced.
I had it done at the dealership and it was a massive financial setback. ($2800)
I heared that on the W140 almost all of them brake within the first 5 years, but I am not sure if that goes for your model as well.
'07 ML320 CDI (398 ft lbs / 1400 RPM)
'02CL 500
'91 928 GT Supercharged
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Old 08-06-2003, 02:18 PM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC Metro Area
Posts: 365
Thanks Sab

You've confirmed my worst fears. I hope the previous owner didn't just spray some gunk into the A/C to plug up the leak temporarily, and dump the car on some unwitting fool (me).

I'll find out 100% diagnosis next week. Should be fun.


p.s. - you're right - it does kind of smell like a new electronic device.
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