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Rusted Accumulators

Ignacio Corella tipped us off to the pattern failure heís noticed in the V-8 equipped Ford Explorer.  This problem seems limited to model year 1996 -1998. 

As many of you know, accumulators are sometimes wrapped in foam to control condensation.  In the case of the 1996 through 1998 Ford Explorer, excess moisture stays trapped between the insulating foam and the all-steel accumulator.  This has created an accelerated corrosion problem in some vehicles. Rust eats through the outside of the accumulator and itís often hard to see without removing the foam insulation.   

Our suggestion is to carefully leak check the accumulator body on Explorers that come into the shop with low refrigerant charge.  Check for signs of heavy corrosion and replace the accumulator if necessary. 


Visitor Comments
  1. Comment #1 (Posted by john Kilner)
    Exactly what happened to my 1998 Ford Contour with 57,000 miles, the very bottom of the accumulator rusted through because of the insulation holding moisture. I installed a new accumulator without the insulation. It may be a good idea to remove the insulation, especially from the bottom and paint or coat the the metal with grease.
  2. Comment #2 (Posted by Andy Seabaugh)
    I had the same problem on my 1997 Explorer, with the 4.0 SOHC V6 engine. I found that, when replacing the accumulator, it is a good idea to get a precise measurement of how much oil remained in the rusty accumulator being replaced. This factored into how much oil I placed into the new accumulator. I mistakenly ignored this at first, and had an excessive amount of oil in my system. Then had to remove the accumulator, do the math, and get the correct amount of oil in there. Probably just the basics for a professional, but as a DIYer, I call it a valuable lesson learned.
  3. Comment #3 (Posted by Dana Nold)
    Just found this stubborn leak in a 1996 Ford Explorer with the 4.0 engine. had dye in system and still could not find leak until I ripped the insulation off the accumulator, dye was soaking into the insulation.
  4. Comment #4 (Posted by George)
    bingo. the article is correct, but i think it applies to more than just the v8 explorer. just ford in general i think. my OHV 4.0 explorer sport for instance. same damn thing. couldnt find leaks anywhere in the system. no oil residue, nothing. then i saw this website, and went to check my car out...what do you know. rusted to hell and back.
  5. Comment #5 (Posted by John)
    I have a 98 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a very rusty accumulator - rust similar to the article's picture. This does not seem to be a problem unique to a particular brand or vehicle model, but rather to accumulator built out of materials prone to rust. And I think that the best idea is upon purchasing a new one, it might be a good idea to paint the darn thing, if allowable, with an anti-rust paint. Something similar to Rustoleum, but one that is also high temp.
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