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#4470696 - 07/26/17 08:35 AM Tell me about automotive air conditioning...
Bottom_Feeder Offline


Registered: 12/07/08
Posts: 3010
Loc: Occupied Virginia
Wife's car is a 2002 Toyota Corolla that is mechanically sound. The AC system works but it takes a little time to start cooling off and it does not get 'cold' per se, but it does get cool. The system has never been touched, never opened, never recharged. It's as it was from the factory.

So assuming that there are no leaks, what makes an older AC system start to lose effectiveness over time? Does the refrigerant wear out? Does the compressor not, uh... compress as well? Dirty condenser? As much as I'd love to fix this with a miracle in a can, I'm pretty sure that's not really the best way of doing so.

We have a much newer car (a 2015 Accord) that gets real cold pretty much instantly so maybe our expectations are out of whack now.

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#4470703 - 07/26/17 08:41 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
rooflessVW Offline


Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 4048
Loc: North Carolina
R134a will slowly leak out through rubber components, and there's no stopping it. Have the system serviced.

Or you may need a compressor. They all wear out eventually.
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#4470708 - 07/26/17 08:45 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
exranger06 Offline


Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 3907
Loc: Guilford, CT
Most of the time it's a refrigerant leak. It might be a leak that just started recently, or it might have been an extremely slow leak that took several years for the AC to lose effectiveness. It's acceptable to simply recharge if the leak is extremely slow. If it's a more major leak that started recently, the leak should be fixed before recharging.
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#4470713 - 07/26/17 08:56 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: rooflessVW]
sasilverbullet Offline


Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 1422
Loc: San Antonio, Texas
Originally Posted By: rooflessVW
R134a will slowly leak out through rubber components, and there's no stopping it. Have the system serviced.

Or you may need a compressor. They all wear out eventually.


+1
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#4470718 - 07/26/17 09:01 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
E150GT Offline


Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 1102
Loc: San Antonio, TX
Like said before it's probably low. I myself wouldn't use the cans. My truck went low one year and a shop topped it off and it worked well until it leaked again. I had a shop fix a leak at the low side port and it's been over a year it still blows cold. My compressor and condenser are original. I gather my compressor is weaker than what it was years ago as it takes a bit of time to cool down the truck. The condenser is atrocious. Do yourself a favor and clean the condenser. It will help prolong the life of the compressor. If it's a car you plan to keep for a while, I would have a shop change the drier too.
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#4470720 - 07/26/17 09:02 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
Chris142 Offline


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 16820
Loc: Deplorable in apple valley, ca
All systems leak. Some leak more than others. 15 years is a great run for an ac system. Most of the cars I see are about 5 yrs old and need a recharge.

Should add a splash of oil too.
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#4470722 - 07/26/17 09:04 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
Brons2 Offline


Registered: 09/16/03
Posts: 3042
Loc: Austin, Texas
Don't overlook condenser, if a lot of the fins are smashed from collisions with insects and such, the system will not work as well.

In my experience, compressors either work or they don't. Failure is usually catastrophic, not an "old and tired" type condition.
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#4470734 - 07/26/17 09:21 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
mehullica Offline


Registered: 08/19/09
Posts: 554
Loc: Modesto,CA
Barrier hoses leak 1-2 ounces a year. Have the system evacuated,vacuumed, & recharged.

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#4470753 - 07/26/17 09:43 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
KrisZ Offline


Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 7469
Loc: Toronto, Canada
No automotive AC system is 100% sealed, it is normal to need a re-charge after so many years. It can be DIY-ed, which will get you a lot of flack in here. But whatever you do, do not add or let anyone else add stop leak to the system.
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#4470755 - 07/26/17 09:45 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
JMJNet Offline


Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 934
Loc: TX, USA
First thing to do is check the pressure?
If pressure is low, need to determine if there is any major leak or the compressor is weak.
Next, is there any funny noises when the compressor engange when you turn ON the AC?
Also, try to wash the cooling stack this usually include the radiator and condenser, they may be plugged up.
This is cheap, only takes a little time, some degreaser and water.

The good news is this AC is not that difficult to work on.


Edited by JMJNet (07/26/17 09:46 AM)
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#4470764 - 07/26/17 09:50 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
Drew99GT Offline


Registered: 10/11/02
Posts: 22128
Loc: Colorado Springs
+1 on looking the condenser over. I took my radiator out of my Corolla and back flushed the condenser and straightened out the fins as best I could. Made a noticeable difference in cooling. Lots of bugs, fur, leaves, pebbles lodged in there.

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#4470776 - 07/26/17 09:56 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
i_hate_autofraud Offline


Registered: 05/19/16
Posts: 705
Loc: Canada


For a car this old also look at the air blend doors, see that they fully cycle from hot to cold,
they can stick, jam or break in one position and give the impression of bad a/c.

It's possible to have multiple problems, low charge and other issues.

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#4470779 - 07/26/17 09:59 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
KrisZ Offline


Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 7469
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Why aren't you guys washing the fins occasionally? I do this at least once a year.
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#4470812 - 07/26/17 10:29 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
mclasser Offline


Registered: 04/13/13
Posts: 2229
Loc: The Northeast
My Accord behaved similarly last year. I added what I estimate to be around 6 oz of refrigerant (can felt half empty in the end; very scientific, I know). A/C performs much better now and the compressor cycles less.
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#4470816 - 07/26/17 10:30 AM Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
zzyzzx Offline


Registered: 05/18/12
Posts: 4372
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
You are low in refrigerant. When cars get old, you get leaks that, at least initially are often manageable like, adding a can in late spring and just doing that every year for a few years.

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