I have a 1999 Jeep Cherokee that has served me very well (has about 150,000 miles). About two weeks ago the serpentine belt began to make a very loud noise and a small amount of smoke would come out from under the hood. This was a problem that I could not ignore and the thought of looking for another car made my stomach turn. I had borrowed my wife's car to get back and forth to work and that was not going to work for much longer as she needs transportation too.
So after a few minutes of tinkering with it I discovered that the pulley attached to the A/C Compressor was shot. The pulley was dragging and grinding when you tried to move it by hand and obviously needed to be replaced. Off to the local auto-parts store I went to get a replacement pulley. No luck...the pulley is not sold separately, you have to buy the entire A/C Compressor with the pulley and clutch attached. Total cost = $260.00! So before I go replacing it I needed a second opinion. A friend of mine does some auto work and offered to take a look at it and confirmed my findings, the pulley was shot.
The friend mentioned looking at some local junkyards to see if I could find another compressor which should cost much less. I called around to 2 or 3 places and no luck. I next decided to look online and see if anyone had a remanufactured compressor for sale...no luck. However, I did stumble across another interesting item: an A/C Bypass Pulley. Basically this is a pulley attached to a bracket that fits exactly in the space that the A/C compressor lives. You remove your existing compressor and put this in place and bam problem fixed. You won't have any A/C anymore but the car will still run all the same (I don't like the A/C anyway). Only one problem with this...nobody had a bypass pulley listed for my year of Jeep.
So it's off to the auto-parts store again, this time knowing that I have to buy the compressor if I want to get the Jeep fixed before I have to go back to work on Monday. I will try to take photos of the replacement process and post them after the work is all done...