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(V) Need Help: Auto Air Conditioning
Posted on 05/03/2002 9:32:31 AM PDT by Tall_Texan
I live in Texas where air conditioning is not optional during the summer months. My 1993 pickup truck was built with an an air conditioning system that needs the old and no-longer-produced R12 refrigerant which was banned from further production by the 1996 Federal Clean Air Act passed by a Republican congress and signed by Bill Clinton. The R12 allegedly harms the ozone. What's left of the refrigerant that is still on the market has risen in price considerably.
Newer vehicles use an R134a cooling system which is less efficient (doesn't cool as well) and has a track record of damaging the compressor much more frequently than the R12 system.
My AC had no troubles for the decade I've owned it but it lately has had trouble cooling so I took it to be serviced. The service people identified a leak, wanted to replace the compressor and a few other parts and gave me an estimate close to $1000. I'm not sure if the resale value of the truck, itself, is $1000. Anyway, that's a significant cost which I *could* afford but would rather not if there's a way around it.
My AC apparently has just 1/3rd of the coolant still in it. I'd really like it to work as I'm accustomed to this summer but I'd like to know if any in our vast knowledge base on FR have some better ideas.
Outside of driving to Mexico and letting someone outside the U.S. fix this vehicle (which I bet they could do for darn little expense if I could speak the language and trust their skill), what other options are there?
I've been told about the R134a retrofit onto R12s but I've also heard a new compressor and some other changes would be needed to do this and, even with an entirely new system, the R134a is less effective in warmer climates.
My fan blows just fine and I still get cool air at times, just not cool enough. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for your help.
TOPICS: Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: airconditioning; automotobile; environmentalists; epa
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Sorry. I meant to post this under "General Interest". I don't really recall where the posting format gave me the option to choose this. I apologize to any that feel this is "off-topic", but it is another illustration of the government restricting freedoms and running our daily lives.
Take it to Mexico or buy a new truck, IMO.
posted on 05/03/2002 9:35:53 AM PDT
Go to Mexico and buy a couple of cans of R-12. I've "heard" they run around $8 apiece.
They also have a different top fitting that the standard do-it-yourself ( DIY) adaptor hose will not fit.
At that point, you have two choices.
1. There is a style of filler adaptor used by folks who do it for a living that punches into the side of the can, thus bypassing the top connector entirely.
2. Fabricate your own adaptor. The fitting is a threaded nipple. Get one nut which fits that nipple, and another which fits the threads on the DIY adaptor. Epoxy/solder/weld the two nuts together, and you've got a fitting to attach old-style filler hose to new-style R12 can.
Voila! Air Fria.
Take it to any AC service shop (Sears, Penneys, etc.) and tell them to charge up your Air Conditioner.
Only properly licensed techs can do this, they can still buy R-12. It should run about $125 to do a full charge, and this will get you through the hot months (unless the leak gets bigger).
I did this for a while on my '97 Aeorostar and it was the best way to go until I sold the vehicle.
Dealers/techs make a big deal about it, but the conversion to R134 amounts to draining the older type lubricant out of the compressor, refilling with the correct type for 134, and then charging up with 134.
I say, charge it up with R-12 and stick it up the Freon-Nazi's A$$.
posted on 05/03/2002 9:41:33 AM PDT
Excellent advice. Just fill 'er up while you are there abd bring back a few for sale to friends.
I converted an older car to R-134a. Basically, you evacuate the system of all freon, put in a can of special lubricant, and then fill it with the recommended amount of R-134a. Cost is about $35 and the kit comes with adapters, filler hoses, and a sticker to warn that the vehicle has been converted.
Worked fine as far as I ever heard.
Victor is correct on price and although I don't know about Sears, there are many that do it. There is an issue with a leaking system.
To: Blood of Tyrants
You are correct, save the money dude.
D I Y is the way to go.
R134 conversion kits are available at our local autoparts store for $35 including coolant, oil, tools, etc. It is an easy operation to perform, even for timid novices. If there is a leak, the R-134 coolant has a Luminescent dye built in so you can determine where there is a leak with a black light bulb, available at hardware stores. Fixing leak is often as easy as tightening a fitting with a wrench. I have no way of knowing their reasonings for suggesting a new compressor, but assuming they would profit from replacing the compressor, if it is still cooling some, I might suggest trying to retrofit first... You only waste about $15 of r134 if it turns out you have to replace the compressor anyway. If you do, you can likely replace the compressor yourself, if you can buy the part, then recharge with r134.
posted on 05/03/2002 9:54:03 AM PDT
This is yet another example of the enviromentalist getting rid of something good to stick us with the cost of converting to something else that was not as good. Made a lot of money for the manufactures however.
posted on 05/03/2002 9:58:35 AM PDT
If I took it to Mexico, would there be a problem with them knowing how to do this? You'd think somebody would have a little cottage industry for this. And if any folks need to stay cool, you'd think it would be south of the Rio Grande.
Supposedly, you have to be a licensed technician nowadays to even handle R12 in the states. I'm not too technically skilled under the hood so I'd probably need help.
My air conditioning leaks too. Last year I took it to a place to get fixed (reputable)..and they told me I need to replace it since it had 3 leaks...cost-> $1500. I said NO THANKS. I live in S. FLA and it gets hot....so the one guy filled up the freon for me (he was only supposed to give me a little to get me through another month but he filled it up for me :} ) ANYWAY....that cost me $50.00 for the estimate and I have used it every day since then...and it works great! I will just get another refill when the time comes again...I am not spending $1500 on a 94 car.
posted on 05/03/2002 10:30:55 AM PDT
Yes you can get it done in Mexico....cheap. Main street of Progresso, about 8 blocks down on the east side is a little shop that will fill your freon. But do not bring any freon cans back with you. It's illegal and they will gladly bust you for it.
posted on 05/03/2002 10:31:23 AM PDT
A year ago I switched two older cars from R-12 to R-134a, they both are doing well today. What you need to do is first determine if your system has leakage and fix it. As R-134a is a smaller molecule it will escape much quicker than R-12. Switching over may be more complicated than the average individual cares to take on. You'll need a couple of pieces of equipment to do the job, a good vacuum pump and a refrigerant manifold valve with appropriate hoses and 6 oz of POE oil, (polyolester, from Autozone, ect)and a suitable reference chart from the library or autoparts store. You'll need to drain out any remaining R-12 from the system. The POE oil is compatable with the R-134a coolant. Chances are that all the old mineral oil from the R-12 charge has long ago leaked out so don't worry about mixing the two, I didn't and I haven't had a problem. After bleeding out any remaining R-12 you need to add the 6 oz of POE oil to the system. Find the best way to do this, you may need to remove one of the lines at the compressor. If you remove any lines you must replace the gasket with a compatable one. Once the oil is in you need to draw down the system with the vacuum pump. Hook up the manifold per instructions with the gage set and suck it down for over an hour at 29" or so. Test to make sure the system holds vacuum. If it doesn't, you have a leak, stop and fix it. If the system holds vacuum start hooking up the 134a hoses to the manifold and begin filling. Stop the vacuum pump. Start filling with the engine off then proceed with the engine running. You will need around 3 pounds to fill the system so make sure you know how many cans or use a scale if filling with a 30 lb. tank. Make sure the can is upright to dispense gas, upside down will dispense liquid. The compressor will cycle on and off with a corresponding pressure reading. Check the recommended pressures in the book or just stick with the 3 lb deal. Once you have the required amount of R-134a into the system, shut off the engine and remove the hoses. Check out the internet, there are many articles describing this proceedure.
posted on 05/03/2002 10:32:11 AM PDT
There are a lot of simple answers to a complicated problem posted here. I do not do a/c for a living but am certified to work on all types and have done several replacements and retrofits.
All the commonly sold retro kits are largely a waste of time unless you plan to dump the vehicle in a short time. Usually the performance is poor unless you live up north and the longevity of the system is poor too and that is the biggest problem.
To do it a conversion right involves a disassembly, flush and refill with the correct oil which does not have even a trace of moisture, replacing the receiver/accumulator prior to charging with r-134a and even replacing the existing condensor with a 30% larger one. Often times r-12 compressor cannot handle the increased pressures either.
If you have a leak, it is toast. Old systems get moisture which translates to acid which translates to holes, usually in the evaporator under the dash. The existing compressor may be ok or could be on the way too.
Keep adding r-12 or find a shop that can get and install one of the silane type leak sealers. The website that sells what you need is cryochem.com. There are other products that are similar and may cost less but I know this product works as I have have used it successfully. You have to be certified to buy it however. A shop could order it for you. The r-12 version could be up to about $150 now, not sure, the r-134 version under $75.
Telling someone to add 3 pounds of r-134a to a car for which you have no idea of the make/model is irresponsible. The system is either charged to exact weight which is posted on the car or slightly less if converting. In the conversion process the system is often charged by pressure at 2x ambient temperature plus 40 psi for r-12 or plus 60 pounds for r-134a. 48 oz of r-134a would probably blow the safety plug on the compressor assuming it had one.....or it would blow the compressor.
Do like I did and become a certified automotive air conditioning technician. Then you can buy all you like of the smaller cans (12 oz.) and put them in yourself. I top off my vehicles every year with R-12 that I buy at the local autoparts store. You do have to show them your certification card. Last time I purchased some the cans were about $18.00 which is of course ridiculous but still much cheaper than working through a repair place where they mark it up even more plus push you to overhaul you entire system every time you get it serviced.
I got the certification 4-5 years ago via a website which combined the study materials and the exam. Cost was $15.00 or so and you could print out your card immediately after taking the online test. The whole process took about and hour.
posted on 05/03/2002 10:48:44 AM PDT
Get your MVAC 609 certification. It's only $19.95 and an open book on-line test at IMACA
. This will entitle you to purchase any number of alternative refrigerants. Some that will work in R-12 systems are Frigc, Freezone and Freeze-12. Check out Aircondition.com
website for all the info you need to retrofit to R-134a or any of the alternatives.
posted on 05/03/2002 10:48:57 AM PDT
The kit costs $45.
To convert a properly functioning automotive R-12 system to any " drop in refrigerant" an installer must:
Recover and recycle the R12;
Fix any leaks!
Evacuate the system ( for approximately 30-45 minutes);
Add approx. 2 oz. of Ester (POE) oil
Charge the system to approximately 80 to 90% of the R12 capacity and install the under-hood "system identification retrofit label".
Install retrofit fittings on the high and low side service ports;
It's that simple! In some cases, it may be necessary to adjust the cycling pressure switch on CCOT (Clutch Cycle Orifice Tube) systems for optimum performance.The clutch cycling pressure switch (CCPS) needs to be adjusted for "drop-in" refrigerant pressures. Remove blower wire or run on low speed, turn the adjustment screw located between the spade terminals on the switch, counter clockwise (CCW) between 1/2 to 7/8 of a turn, until the compressor cycles off at approximately 18 psi.
I recommend installing a new receiver drier($7-$15), and if the TXV(expansion valve) can't be cleaned, replace it also.
$100 and you are good to go, and it cools 3-10 degrees better than R-12.
posted on 05/03/2002 10:55:50 AM PDT
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