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Old 06-06-2011, 12:33 PM
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How hard is it to recharge AC?

Hey guys, my AC has been out for a little while now, and its not fun driving with the windows down in 100 degree south texas heat... Would like to save as much $ as possible and would like to do this myself. Any and all tips, what product to use, ect would be nice!

I've never done anything with any AC before so this is all new to me.

Thanks
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:40 PM
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Well, if all it needs is a charge, it's not difficult. But you could be throwing money away if that's not the root cause. I gave my 2003 5.4L a shot once when it had about 70,000 miles on it. It held for a couple of more years and until I sold it with 125,000 miles on it. To the best of my knowledge, it is still going strong (guy down the street bought it from me). But my AC still worked, it just didn't cool well on "Normal". Max AC was okay. If your's is not working at all, I'd suggest plunking at least enough money to diagnose it first, then go from there.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:51 PM
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It blows, just not getting cold. It doesn't go to defrost so I know its not the vac lines.

Seems to blow a little (very little) cooler on the notch right before Max...
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:24 PM
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You can just buy a can of refrigerant and recharge the system. As long as the compressor is working, and you don't have a leak, it will work. A professional recharge will include a vacuum of the lines, then a refill of refrigerant, which is better, but you only need that if you have no charge at all in the A/C lines currently.
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:04 PM
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Might want to check the valve to your heater core. I've read that this valve sometimes fail allowing hot coolant into the core, thus reducing the coolness of the AC.
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:11 PM
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It's not hard at all, but takes the right tools to do it right.

First off, you may want to fix the leak before wasting more freon. For a modern R134a system to lose pressure, it has to have a leak.

For the system to work right, it needs the proper amount of freon. That requires a set of refrigeration gauges to measure.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:06 PM
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Thanks guys. Anyone have a write up on this that I can use to follow step by step. Again, never messed with AC before on any vehicle, so how do I find a leak? Sorry if I sound dumb on that question...
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jc8825 View Post
As long as the compressor is working, and you don't have a leak, it will work.
If you don't have a leak, why would the refrigerant be low? How did it get low if there wasn't a leak?

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so how do I find a leak? Sorry if I sound dumb on that question...
There are two ways. One is to use a refrigerant leak detector. They are not cheap. The second way is to inject dye into the system. A leak in the evaporator core can be difficult to detect with dye because you can't see the core to see the dye stain.

In my opinion it's cheaper to go to a pro and get it fixed right.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:51 PM
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"In my opinion it's cheaper to go to a pro and get it fixed right".

Mine too. If there's a leak somewhere, a professional will be able to detect it and properly evacuate they system before it all leaks out into the atmosphere (yes, I'm one of THOSE). A pro can also check on the oil in the compressor, and just plain do the job right the first time.

It's not going to cost a whole lot of money to have it done by someone who has all the right equipment.

This also might be a good time to replace the drier.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:54 PM
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What's the average it would cost to take into a shop? (Not dealership)
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:27 PM
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A couple of years ago I took my Jetta to a local garage for an evacuation/recharge and it cost me $75 well-spent bucks.

If you have someone reliable who won't rip you off, I can't possibly see it being more than $200, and maybe more like $100 - 150; obviously more if components need to be replaced.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kovalsky View Post
If you don't have a leak, why would the refrigerant be low? How did it get low if there wasn't a leak?
Sorry, I didn't specify. If the leak is not major, just using a can of refrigerant to charge the system (as most cans have a leak stop in them), will usually at least carry you through a summer season.

That is if you are on a budget. I would get the system fixed professionally if you have the money. A/C repairs can easily get up into $500+ depending on what needs to be fixed.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:19 PM
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Environmentally Friendly Refrigerant and Automotive Fluid Products - Enviro-Safe, Inc

Take a look at these guys and the stuff they sell. They have a can of stop leak that's supposed to be able to stop most small leaks, and their refrigerant is less expensive then anyone else I've found. They are local to me so I picked up some of their stuff and recharged my girlfriends 1991 volvo. It still had the R-12 fittings on it, so I don't think it had ever been touched. I got gauges and pulled a vacuum then hit it with the stop leak and some refrigerant and its working great. A/C recharging is pretty simple, A/C Leak finding is a royal pain.

It's up to you if you want to try to just recharge it and boost it a bit, or if you think it's leaked down enough that you need to find the leak and fix it. You may spend $20 for a hose and refrigerant and have it last a week, or it may last 10 years. That's the gamble. Nice thing about the stuff the place I linked makes is that it's pine scented, so if it leaks you can smell it.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 99F-350CrewCab View Post

It's up to you if you want to try to just recharge it and boost it a bit, or if you think it's leaked down enough that you need to find the leak and fix it. You may spend $20 for a hose and refrigerant and have it last a week, or it may last 10 years. That's the gamble. Nice thing about the stuff the place I linked makes is that it's pine scented, so if it leaks you can smell it.

I would recomend that you not use this or any other alternative refrigerant in your A/C system for several reasons, 1) it costs more that 134a from your local parts house, 2) you are contaminating the system and if you take it into a repair shop at a later date to have them fix it correctly they will more than likely refuse to service it for you because it will contaminate there A/C recycling machine and charging station, ( and yes we do have test equipment to verify the proper refrigerant) 3) if you are not sure of how to service the system safely you can cause serious injury to yourself or others.

There is nothing wrong with doing repairs yourself and saving money, but do yourself a favor and find a friend who knows what they are doing to help walk you through the process, or find a good repair shop. Lots of shops won't mind telling you if you need major parts changed like compressor, hoses ect. and you can do that yourself if you are on a tight budget and take it back to them for final service. It never hearts to make friends with a mechanic, they come in handy once in a while.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:52 PM
 
 
 
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