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The likely cause of the temperature drop-off is that the evaporator core froze. If the compressor froze, it would have self-destructed or burned up either the vee belt that drives it or the electric clutch between the drive pulley and the compressor itself.

This is consistent with the 3-minute recovery time. Modern A/C systems avoid this by using core freeze sensors or algorithms to cycle the compressor off and allow the core to thaw out.

I hope this puts any fears to rest. All is well, and compressor failure is not likely imminent.

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