How to add AC to an 86 Wagovan

Hi folks,

This summer I got a 1986 Civic Wagovan 4WD (1.5L engine) my wife had purchased new and later gave to her parents. They used it for many years, but it set up for several years before they gave it back. To get it running again, I replaced the carburetor (big job), battery, shocks (easy), brakes, tires, belts, water hoses (arrg), leaky fuel lines & filters, and a few other things. I also graphite-oiled the squeaky speedometer cable (its a big job to replace). Inside, I replaced the faulty turn signal unit (with used from eBay), blower motor resistor, antenna & speakers, and repaired the heater vent linkage. Everything now works and the car runs well, gets 32 MPG, and has 4WD when we need it. We plan to drive this "little blue Honda" for many years to come.

Problem. This 86 Civic Wagovan was originally purchased in northern CA and did not come with (optional) air conditioning. It is now driven in an area where AC is really necessary for summer driving. So I would like to add air conditioning. There are lots of reconditioned parts available as replacement purchases, but since I am starting from zero, I am not sure I can get everything I will need. For example, there is a place on the dash for an AC on/off button, but I have no idea what the button looks like. So, before I go off on a spending spree, I really want to know what is needed to put in AC after-the-fact, including information on AC control, fusing, switch, harness, relay, mounting, and routing of AC hoses, etc. I don't have much experience with this sort of thing, and I've never seen an installed AC system in this model (which is why I am glad to have found this civicwagon forum).

Does anyone have information that will help me add AC when this car never had it?


  • I think that's going to be a pretty big job.

    This would be a good place to start to consider parts, different harnesses, etc.

    You'll see a break down of all the parts there, with drawings.

    You're probably going to end up needing a harness, and a bunch of mechanical parts. I'd imagine the ECU, fuse box, and dash harness is the same but an accessory harness for AC might be needed.

    Here is a good write up done in a CRX which should give you a good idea of whats needed:

    My suggestion is to find a 3rd gen wagon in a yard that has AC and then strip it of parts. Probably the best way to get everything you need all in one go, at a somewhat decent price.

  • @JWB Do you still have the wiper switch from the column switch-assembly? I’m in the opposite situation with my 1986 4x4 wagon, where I’m currently operating the wiper with a make-shift switch next to the fog light. If it can be transferred I might be interested in buying it, although I’m guessing it’s in the bin :)

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