Just did the same switch change-out myself. You describe it quite well...not much room. Up and down, in from the top, then under the car. I wrapped some adhesive tape around a deep well socket to provide needed friction to finger tighten the switch, the a full tighten with a wrench. Never thought of the wife tool, hummmm, I don't think mine would have worked...literally!
Did you remove the fluid from the reservoir before removing the sensor?
The one in my '04 Thunderbird has begun to leak slightly. 'Makes a small mess on the garage floor and the car's underbody. 'Wanted to farm this job out to a local Lincoln dealer service department but I quickly concluded that they really did not want to do this job with a quote of $550. That was overwhelmingly for labor because they would dismount the AC compressor to gain access. I declined... 'Ordered the sensor online last night for pickup locally today. 'With input from owners like you who have done this job, maybe I can avoid going down some "blind alleys"...
No, I did not drain the reservoir of fluid. I had a good amount leak from the switch when it failed then when I removed the switch (it looked like the car was bleeding), by unscrewing it from the pump, the remainder of the fluid drained from the reservoir. If ever I needed to do the switch again (hopefully not) I would have a catch pan in place. Less than a quart of fluid drained. I am by no means a mechanic, but I can change a part. To be quoted over $500 to do what I did in my garage leaves me with two assumptions....one, I saved myself $500...two, maybe I should have become a mechanic! Take care and time...unplug the electrical connection then decide how to approach the switch with the right tool. I used a deepwell socket, I can't recall the size. You will determine the size needed after receiving the replacement part. By the way, I purchased my part for $32 at my local Auto Zone parts store. Once the switch started to spin on the threads it was then easy to remove with small progress with fingers. As you will find, the switch seats on an "O" ring. Reinstall opposite as removed. Small finger movements and a final seating with the deepwell socket. You will find yourself approaching the switch from inside the hood and from the bottom laying on the floor. Once done, refill the reservoir, turn the wheel from stop to stop and top off to the fill line. I re-read your post...it is not necessary to remove or relocate the air conditioner compressor to gain the little access you need. From the bottom you will find a couple tubes in the way but you can work around. Good luck. Write me back and let me know how it gos.
What systems does the steering have when sensors is bad ?Figured it out on my own, go down through the top it's tight and unhook electrical clip. I bought a long skinny rachet with a flexible head from freight harbor and removed sensor with that. My hands were to big to unclip electrical connection and to finish removal of sensor so I had my wife do it. Not bad at all.