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#4676037 - 02/23/18 11:43 PM AC condenser leak question
sxg6 Offline

Registered: 05/23/04
Posts: 2464
Loc: ME
I want to start off by saying I know very little about AC systems.

In the fall I noticed a leak coming from under the dryer which is attached to my condenser. I've cleaned the area up, and it continues to leak and leak.

My subaru has over 200k on it, and the more miles it gets on it, the more willing I am to try new things, like AC work.

My question is, what is this leaking? Do you think it's the oil, like ND8 oil? Or is this r134a, which might sound stupid because it's a liquid dripping.. The leak is also right under the dryer, so that's why I'm more confused about what exactly it is that's dripping.

My reason for asking is, I might buy a set of gauges, and see how much refrigerant there is in the system. If it's empty, I might try replacing the condenser myself, pulling a vaccum, and recharging the system. If it still has a charge, I might have a shop evacuate the system, and then still do things myself. I'm not sure yet, I haven't decided.

So if I do the work myself, I'm not sure how much oil to add to the system, since I don't know if that's oil leaking in the picture. Sorry for the lengthy post about this, I just want to be as detailed as possible. I also remembered hearing that it's not good for the system to be sort of open like this, maybe if things can leak out, air can get in. However, if there's still a charge, maybe that will keep things out?

#4676054 - 02/24/18 12:21 AM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: sxg6]
clinebarger Offline

Registered: 12/19/13
Posts: 1624
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Looks like the Receiver Drier service cap is leaking.....If it is serviceable?
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#4676064 - 02/24/18 12:45 AM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: sxg6]
sxg6 Offline

Registered: 05/23/04
Posts: 2464
Loc: ME
The factory service manual doesn't mention dryer replacement, though rockauto does sell replacement desiccant elements. I thought about that, but I'm not sure if you can remove that plastic cap on the bottom, it looks like a large allen key could remove it.

To replace it, I think I'd still have to remove the condenser, there's no room with it on the car. At that point, I kinda just think I'm better off replacing the condenser, since rockauto sells replacements for around $60. My oem is probably better quality of course, but it has a lot of bent fins and such from age.

I also didn't know this.. The factory service manual says AC oil is highly hygroscopic, so maybe the leak seems to be getting worse because more water is getting into the system from the air.. not good. Or, maybe it's just leaking more refrigerant.

#4676072 - 02/24/18 01:50 AM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: sxg6]
sxg6 Offline

Registered: 05/23/04
Posts: 2464
Loc: ME
I hate to reply twice in a row, but the condenser isn't as bad as I thought.. It's just the bottom corners that are a little beat up, the rest of it looks good.. Maybe I will just try replacing the bag and o-rings, or cap too..

#4676242 - 02/24/18 08:59 AM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: sxg6]
Cujet Online   content

Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 6839
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
Guessing the O-Ring has simply developed a leak, probably due to age.

The OEM condenser is 400% higher quality than the $60 aftermarket ones. If it's truly in OK shape, it's worth keeping. However, because you are so far North, AC is not a high priority and an aftermarket one may suffice. Here in South Florida, it's foolish to use a cheap Chinese copy, as the result is always poor.

Moisture will not enter a pressurized system. So, if it has pressure in it, any moisture in the system is from assembly or the last service(s). The desiccant is there to handle this.

In your case, if the system is still intact, relieve the pressure, change the O-Ring by unscrewing the cap and pulling it down an inch. Pull a vacuum on the system and recharge. If you don't have a vacuum pump to evacuate the system, you might be able to use intake manifold vacuum, it just takes longer, but will work quite well on a warm day.

Remember, the reason to use vacuum is to boil out any moisture. The higher the vacuum, the faster any moisture is removed.

#4676247 - 02/24/18 09:02 AM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: sxg6]
Cujet Online   content

Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 6839
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
As far as oil quantity, many systems hold a few ounces. My F150 holds 7 ounces. Most of which resides in the bottom of the compressor. My guess, you've not lost enough oil to matter. An easy way to add a little oil is to use a can of 135a, with lubricant in it. Or, if an ounce comes out when you pull the cap, put an ounce of the correct oil back in.

#4676248 - 02/24/18 09:05 AM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: sxg6]
Chris142 Online   content

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 16325
Loc: Deplorable in apple valley, ca
That condenser is beat to snot! Look at them fins. A new condenser will come complete with the dryer. They are not that expensive. As for the oil it's just a guess but it's leaking out.

Better to have too much in this case. I would add whatever Subaru says for condenser replacement plus a couple more ounces.
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#4676416 - 02/24/18 11:42 AM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: Cujet]
Linctex Offline

Registered: 12/31/16
Posts: 5170
Loc: Waco, TX
Originally Posted By: Cujet
Or, if an ounce comes out when you pull the cap, put an ounce of the correct oil back in.

If it has been leaking oil for a long time, more oil will have been lost.
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#4684652 - 03/04/18 09:41 PM Re: AC condenser leak question [Re: sxg6]
artificialist Offline

Registered: 09/23/07
Posts: 8502
Loc: Florida
That certainly looks like ND8 oil. If you really want to know the source of the leak, a low price UV light will help you find it.
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