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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi again - now that it's getting hot I am regretting the A/C not working.

I have a 92 wagon. Virtually positive it's never been retrofitted so it will still need R12.

For all I know it has a fast leak, who knows.
I might get lucky and it's a very slow leak and everything else somehow still works after all these years.

I suspect if it was easy, the previous owner would have tried.

So the question is, can I do it myself without endangering myself and if so, can I still get R12 and how much will it likely cost?

Thanks as always, y'all are great with the help...
 

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YES...you can do it yourself. The question is Can YOU do it yourself? Not all that hard. To do it right, the system should really be vacuumed out, and when refilling it, you need to use a set of gauges to ensure that you don't over fill it. I have done it without the gauges HOWEVER...it wasn't my first time or the 20th time for that matter and unless you KNOW the sound a Ford compressor makes just before it is too full, you are likely to blow the seals out of it.
R12 can still be purchased though more expensive than 134A. Harbor freight sell the gauges (never used a set of the China specials) so I'm not too sure how well they read. Also, IF you suspect a leak (there always is one or the system would still be charged) I suggest a can of the oil charge and seal conditioner. Even at that, it may or may not last for a few months.
 

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What happens if you just slowly add refrigerant and use a thermometer to monitor the air blowing in the car and stop adding refrigerant when the air stops getting colder? How close to a correct charge level would this get you? When I was young the A/C in my parents Ford Fairmont would ice up during long trips but I've never seen my A/C do this, but I don't really use my A/C much.
 

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needWheels said:
What's an "honest" price to pay a shop if I find someplace I can afford?
It just depends on what's wrong with the A/C causing it to lose the freon. A shop is not supposed to recharge an A/C unit until a vacuum has been pulled on the system and they verify there are no leaks. There's a good chance you can find where your leak is by looking around at the A/C system hoses and fittings. If you see an area that has oily residue on it it's probably where the compressor oil has leaked out along with the freon. It may be something simple such as a fitting needing to be tightened or an o-ring replaced. If you can verify there's no freon left in the system you could find out how much the system holds and recharge it yourself without gauges, but as someone else has already stated put a can of compressor oil in the system before recharging it or it's very likely you'll ruin the compressor. If you charge it yourself without gauges I'd suggest filling it with a few less ounces than it's recommended full capacity. Also BE SURE TO CONNECT TO THE LOW PRESSURE SIDE of the system when adding freon.

I don't think you can buy R-12 unless you are licensed, but I could be wrong. You can buy a conversion kit and switch it over from R-12 to R134-A (which is what I did with my '88 GL) or they also sell a freon that's a R-12 substitute, but I can't remember what the name of it is right now.
 

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i haven't seen any R12, only R134a conversion kits which r only $35 at walmart. i did the conversion on my wagon last summer for the first time and it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay it's getting to 85 degrees here this week so it's time for me to get serious about trying this.

Let's forget the 92 wagon and R12 conversion, I've given up on her.

My 96 Hatch had A/C that worked last October but I tried it today and it won't kick on. Relay gets warm and I tried another relay but no go. So I am assuming it leaked down to the point where the clutch won't kick in?

By the way, are there supposed to be caps on the high/low ports? Because there aren't.

I've been watching a lot of youtube videos on this and I am actually learning more from the critical comments than the videos themselves.

Can y'all help me make a newbie checklist, without skipping any details?

ie.

1. Clean both ports of dirt (I have compressed air cans, can I just blow them out?)

2. Turn on car and keep it running, turn on A/C

3. Wear gloves and eye protection in case there is a leak or you lose control of the can (I've read a few cases of the can screw on blowing loose?)

4. Test low port AND high port pressure (low is on the passenger side, correct? And the high is the one in front? I think I am going to buy a real gauge set because I've seen some critical comments about the "free" ones that come with the refill kits

5. If the low port is low pressure and the high is high pressure, that is bad and should NOT be refilled? Only refill the low port if they are both low on pressure?

6. It looks like you are supposed to first attach to the can WITHOUT piecing it, screw on the connector to the low port, then pierce the can and watch the gauge.... then what do you when the gauge hits the right level and you still have stuff in the can?

Okay what did I miss in that list? Or get wrong?

Oh this video is even more clear than most of the youtube videos
http://www.idqusa.com/videos/recharging ... p_vid.html
 

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There should be caps on both ports; I think they keep out dust.
With most car a.c. systems the high and low ports are different sizes, and the recharge hoses you buy @ autozone will only fit on the low side. If the system takes R-134a, I think the manifold (gauges) set will have fittings that will only go on the proper port; low port for the low gauges, etc.)

If this is for a 96 car, the a.c. system is all 14-15 years old. Its likely there has been deterioration inside the compressor, the hoses, etc. So recharging it without cleaning it out may result in it working for a while - but its still an old system. You might get one summer out of it.
If I were going to redo the a.c. systems on any of my cars, I would figure on a rebuilt compressor, all new hoses, new drier, new needle valve (or whatever the different systems call that function), and new O rings for all connections. Then a flush and vacuum, possibly a 2nd flush and vacuum - followed by putting some oil directly into the compressor, then recharging it with R-134a and rest of the compatible oil. I would figure it costing between $900-$1500 depending on the car. Thats assuming the evaporator and condenser are re-useable, and that I did as much of the work as possible. ...and could find a licensed shop that would agree to touch the system after I had changed hoses, drier & compressor.
If you had the work done in October to December, you may not have to wait in a line to get into the a.c. shop, and it might be easier to find a business that would accept you having done some of the work. Even then they might not guarantee the outcome.

Also, its usually against state/federal laws to let freon escape into the air with capturing it. Though if you arent in the business, getting nailed is probably unlikely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm definitely not pouring that much money into the A/C system. Anything that breaks on this car that costs more than $500 parts+labor, the car is going to be tossed.

Someone must have never put the caps back on or borrowed them for another car - advance wants $10 for them, ha, no way.

I'm going to buy a better gauge set for $30 and then stick to $12 cans. If the car somehow lasts until next December I'll try to find a deal on redoing the A/C system (I might have a waterpump failure coming and if that happens, I'm tossing the car because I cannot repair it myself and all the shops want $400+)
 

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needWheels said:
6. It looks like you are supposed to first attach to the can WITHOUT piecing it, screw on the connector to the low port, then pierce the can and watch the gauge.... then what do you when the gauge hits the right level and you still have stuff in the can?
This is one thing I don't agree with. If you just hook it up there will still be air in the charge line when you connect it and you don't want any air in the system. What you want to do it get the hose and valve attached to the can then slowly start to pierce it until you start to hear hissing, then look at the end of the hose until you can see the refrigerant vapor coming out, it will look like gasoline vapor, now place the hose connector over the charge for a few seconds to allow the area inside the port to fill with refrigerant, then connect it. This process will ensure that you don't get air in the A/C system.

I would also make sure there is pressure in the system before you start to charge it, If there is none then all the refrigerant has leaked out and you need to have it vacuumed out before it can be charged. With the engine off, push the little pin inside either A/C port down for a split second with a screw driver, if it hissed then you are good to go.

Also, when you buy refrigerant stay away from any that have oil or leak sealer in them, UV dye is alright though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh wow I never thought about the air in the line.

Absolutely no-one else has mentioned that in any of the videos I've seen.

Not sure if I have the skill to do what you are saying but I definitely understand what you mean.

Hmm, so avoid leak sealer I've seen a few places mention but also avoid those with extra oil in them too? Interdynamics makes a "high milage" can with some oil in it, but you are saying no don't do that.

Thanks for the tip about testing for some pressure first, makes sense.

Actually that's why I wanted to get a real gauge set to see the actual pressure on both sides. With some discount codes I think I can get one for like $30 that also has a can piercer.
 

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madmatt2024 said:
This is one thing I don't agree with. If you just hook it up there will still be air in the charge line when you connect it and you don't want any air in the system.
This is a very common misconception. Air in the A/C system is not a problem. The reason these systems are pulled down to vacuum is to boil out any moisture in the system. It is impossible to get all of the air out. Any moisture can freeze up and create ice which can plug up the orifice tube.

Just like pressurizing the cooling system increases the boiling point of water, the exact opposite is also true. Apply enough vacuum and water will boil at room temperature. This is why A/C systems are pulled down to vacuum for 20-30 minutes.

The good news is that R134a is not nearly as touchy about this as R12 used to be.
 

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You don't need any skill to do what I said. Basically, just make sure you can see the vapor before you hook it up and wait a few sec. before you snap the connector all the way down on the lowside port.

The reason you avoid the extra oil is because the system already has the correct amount of oil in it from the factory and still should provided you don't have a big leak at a low point in the system. If you put too much oil in it won't work correctly and usually the oil that comes with refrigerant is not the type already in the system and its bad to mix them.
 

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Here is the 'correct' way to charge an A/C system:

1> Pull the system down to vacuum for at least thirty minutes. It MUST be at least 28 inches Hg of vacuum (however you can subtract one inch for every 1000 feet of elevation you are at.. example.. if you are in Denver (elev 5000) then 23 inches Hg will be enough).

2> Close the valves and then shut off the vacuum pump and make sure it holds vacuum. If you lose more than 1 inch Hg of vacuum every five minutes, then there's a good chance there is a leak.

3> If you plan on adding oil or dye now is the time to do it (unless it's already charged in the refrigerant you plan on adding). You install a special tool with a valve onto the A/C port and then open the valve, allowing the vacuum in the system to pull the stuff in.

4> Install the refrigerant through the low pressure port. The vacuum in the system should be enough to pull enough in.. usually about half a can or so. Once you have that start it up, turn the A/C on and once the compressor kicks in it should pull the rest out of the can. Sometimes it can take a few minutes for each can to get empty. The system holds a total of 28oz of R134a refrigerant.


If you're absolutely sure there is no refrigerant in the system, you can just add it in and see if it works. It's a 50/50 shot and if it does work it may not work as well as it could (but better than not working at all). Try not to let too much oil get in the system though because that can cause it to not work properly too. Many people keep adding the stuff with oil in it and then the system gets saturated.
 

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when recharging the a/c system, u need to figure out what the pressure of the a/c should be compared to the temperatures outside the car. on my recharge kit, it says at 70*F the pressure should be between 35-40 psi. at 90*F the pressure should be between 45-55 psi
 

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Folks, today I was going to switch my AC over to 134. It was totally empty of freon from two years ago when I bought it, becaue it had a trashed condensor up front by the radiator, and I put a brand new one on, so I know there is no freon.

So I retro-fitted the fittings, and I turn on the AC switch in the car, it comes on with the blue indicator lamp, but no compressor clutch turning on!! I was first gonna hit it with an oil charge, but I cannot get the compressor to kick on! I checked the ten amp fuse, looks good. Now, the haynes manual says there is a ralay or two, and a coil, and a diode, in the circuit. Do I need to check these?? The plug is plugged into the compressor. Maybe my compressor is trashed. Would not surprise me at all.
 

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if the a/c is empty, the compressor will not turn on
 

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If its been open that long then you need to replace the accumulator and have it vacuumed out before you can charge it. Also drain out all the old oil and change it to the correct oil type for R134a.
 

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juggalo said:
if the a/c is empty, the compressor will not turn on
I thought this may be the case. But I have the old school single can filler, where I open the valve and let the system suck in the freon, so I guess I need to go to the shop and hook it up to a machine with pressure behind it, so the machine fills the system, rather than me trying to let the compressor suck in the freon? makes sense.
 

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madmatt2024 said:
If its been open that long then you need to replace the accumulator and have it vacuumed out before you can charge it. Also drain out all the old oil and change it to the correct oil type for R134a.
That's what I was doing was tring to hit with an oil charge, but it may be good to just break open the sytem and pour the oil in there like I'm supposed to? Is there an orifice valve in the sytem that needs changed, like other cars?
 
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