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Tell me about automotive air conditioning... #4470696
07/26/17 07:35 AM
07/26/17 07:35 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,116
Occupied Virginia
Bottom_Feeder Offline OP
Bottom_Feeder  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,116
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.

Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470703
07/26/17 07:41 AM
07/26/17 07:41 AM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,103
North Carolina
rooflessVW Offline
rooflessVW  Offline
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,103
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.


"Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead."
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470708
07/26/17 07:45 AM
07/26/17 07:45 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 4,023
Guilford, CT
exranger06 Offline
exranger06  Offline
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 4,023
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.


2006 Ford Ranger Sport
1992 Honda Accord EX
2004 Honda CR-V LX
1994 Ford Bronco XLT (project)
2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV (wife's)
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: rooflessVW] #4470713
07/26/17 07:56 AM
07/26/17 07:56 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,483
San Antonio, Texas
sasilverbullet Offline
sasilverbullet  Offline
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,483
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


03 Porsche 911 Liqui Moly Leichtlauf High Tech 5w-40 & Mahle filter
14 Honda Accord 4dr EX-L 4cyl-M1 0W-20 & WIX XP
02 Chevy 5.7L van-GTX HM 10W-40 & WIX filter
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470718
07/26/17 08:01 AM
07/26/17 08:01 AM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,366
San Antonio, TX
E150GT Offline
E150GT  Offline
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,366
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.


1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD - 100k
1995 F150 XL 4.9 reg cab 5MT - 251k 5w30
2016 Mazda6 Touring 6MT - 57k 10w30
2006 Buick Lucerne CXL 3.8 31k 5w30
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470720
07/26/17 08:02 AM
07/26/17 08:02 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,815
Deplorable in apple valley, ca
Chris142 Offline
Chris142  Offline
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,815
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.


02 Wrangler carlube 5w30
87 F250 traveler 15w40
07 fjcruiser Chevron 10w30
Z400 castrol T 10w40
Can am maveric edge 5w40
57 case tractor 15w40
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470722
07/26/17 08:04 AM
07/26/17 08:04 AM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 3,135
Austin, Texas
Brons2 Offline
Brons2  Offline
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 3,135
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.


2012 Hyundai Sonata GLS 6MT 2.4GDI, ProDS 10w30, XG9688 filter, 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.4 CVT, Factory fill still.
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470734
07/26/17 08:21 AM
07/26/17 08:21 AM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 577
Modesto,CA
mehullica Offline
mehullica  Offline
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 577
Modesto,CA
Barrier hoses leak 1-2 ounces a year. Have the system evacuated,vacuumed, & recharged.

Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470753
07/26/17 08:43 AM
07/26/17 08:43 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,028
Canuck living in California
KrisZ Online content
KrisZ  Online Content
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,028
Canuck living in California
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.


2015 Dodge Grand Caravan-27k miles.
2006 Mazda 3-163k miles
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470755
07/26/17 08:45 AM
07/26/17 08:45 AM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,023
TX, USA
JMJNet Offline
JMJNet  Offline
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,023
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.

Last edited by JMJNet; 07/26/17 08:46 AM.

  • 2017 Toyota Sienna
  • 1995 GMC Suburban 6.5L Turbo Diesel


Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470764
07/26/17 08:50 AM
07/26/17 08:50 AM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 22,168
Colorado Springs
Drew99GT Offline
Drew99GT  Offline
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 22,168
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.

Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470776
07/26/17 08:56 AM
07/26/17 08:56 AM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 718
Canada
i_hate_autofraud Offline
i_hate_autofraud  Offline
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 718
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.

Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470779
07/26/17 08:59 AM
07/26/17 08:59 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,028
Canuck living in California
KrisZ Online content
KrisZ  Online Content
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,028
Canuck living in California
Why aren't you guys washing the fins occasionally? I do this at least once a year.


2015 Dodge Grand Caravan-27k miles.
2006 Mazda 3-163k miles
Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470812
07/26/17 09:29 AM
07/26/17 09:29 AM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 2,421
The Northeast
mclasser Offline
mclasser  Offline
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 2,421
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.


2018 Hyundai Elantra VE -- 6K
2013 Honda Pilot EX-L 4WD -- 57K
2002 Honda Accord EX-L -- 212K

Re: Tell me about automotive air conditioning... [Re: Bottom_Feeder] #4470816
07/26/17 09:30 AM
07/26/17 09:30 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 4,532
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
zzyzzx Offline
zzyzzx  Offline
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 4,532
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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