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  #1  
Old 07-23-2006, 12:38 PM
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Angry Advice needed: A/C - You can do everything right, but then there is the weakest link!



I just spent two days completely flushing out the dual A/C system on my 96' Dodge Grand Caravan (yes I know that's not a Mercedes, but I want knowledgeable responses, so I'm cashing in my chits for all the Mercedes related contributions I've made in the past).

I wanted to restore the A/C system to factor condition, purging the leak stop I'd put in the system before I knew any better. I also wanted to know exactly how much oil and refrigerant was in the system - down to the ounce.

I replaced the compressor, both expansion valves, and all o-rings. Removed and flushed everything else, which is a real pita on the rear system.

I pulled a vacuum to 29 inches for two hours with the 17.7 cfm pump. It held for 24 hours without any movement - none!

This morning I began filling the exact amount of R-134a (3 lbs). I decided to use 12 oz cans so I could get the exact amount. At about the end of the third can the high pressure gauge was reading 250. I know because I was looking at it.

That is when it happened!

The POS Interdynamics Gauge Set blew at the high pressure hose just above the coupling and the line valve. (See Attached Picture - also note the 600 PSI working pressure!). It spewed refrigerant and oil for about 15-20 seconds before I threw a towel over the hose and pulled the quick disconnect. I have no idea how much refrigerant I lost or how much oil I lost. I know I lost both - the oil was evident all over the engine compartment.

I figure the only way to know with absolute certainty how much is in the system at this point is to break it all down, flush it again, and start from scatch.

After some kicking things around the garage I decided to go ahead and add the last 12 oz can. The system puts out some nice cold air which is great after years of crappy service thanks to my mucking up the system with leak stop (before I learned about the right way to do things).

Finally, here is my question: how do you think I should proceed.

1) Add in a 2 oz oil / 2 oz refrigerant charge just to be safe (but run the risk of adding at the most an extra oz of oil).

2) Let it go with slightly less oil and refrigerant than is required by factor specs.

3) Tear the whole thing down and make damn sure I've got the exact amount of oil required - keep in mind I just bought a new (not remanufactured) compressor.

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Advice needed: A/C - You can do everything right, but then there is the weakest link!-dscf1153b.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2006, 12:56 PM
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my opinion only...

I start with a disclaimer that I am no expert....

After reading of your misfortune, I can read in your post that you need someone to tell you to re-flush and measure it all back in correctly. At least that is my take on it and that is my advice - you spent all the time and effort to get it back factory right, go ahead and re-do the easy part. You'll sleep better and you know your compressor will last longer.

John
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Old 07-23-2006, 01:00 PM
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Thanks for your response. One important piece of information I neglected to add. The factory oil charge is 13 ounces. There is no way not even near that much got out.

Please don't construe my message as looking for an excuse to do it all over again. I will just as gladly take accept that it is okay to do 1) or 2).

Let this also be a lesson the everyone to wear eye protection. I was and it was covered with trace amounts of oil.
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Old 07-23-2006, 01:07 PM
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Man I feel for you.... Here you try to do everything right and old MURPHY rears his ugly head.
I would try to take your BEST educated guess and add the amount of oil you think you lost. I think you wouldn't go wrong to add 2oz.of oil. Too much oil and the efficency goes down, too little and you risk the compressor. I would also recharge the system to specs as far as the amount of R134. Running the system low on refrigerant works the compressor harder. Buy a new set of hoses for your A/C gauge manafold.
I NEVER mind trying to help guys when they ask for help on their other wheels. Good luck. Chris
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Old 07-23-2006, 01:08 PM
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Thumbs up

You've come this far, finish it properly.
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Old 07-23-2006, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwogaman
Thanks for your response. One important piece of information I neglected to add. The factory oil charge is 13 ounces. There is no way not even near that much got out.
Instead of just winging it, or providing a "feel good" response, let's look at the facts.

The system needs 13 ounces of oil.

You lost a certain amount of oil. We don't know the exact amount, but, are fairly sure that it's between 1 and 3 ounces of oil (judging strictly by your comments). So, if we add back 2 ounces of oil, we can have a situation where we are one ounce light on oil.......perfect.......or one ounce heavy on oil.........or anything in between.

In percentage terms, as compared to the original 13 ounce fill, the error is a bit under 8%..........worst case condition.

You'd have a very hard time convincing me that the factory must have an oil fill to 13 oz. and an error of 8% one way or the other would create any issues in the system.

My advice is to add 2 oz. of oil and be done with it. The chances of a problem to the innaccuracy of the amount of oil in the system are virtually nil.
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Old 07-23-2006, 07:02 PM
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I'm in complete agreement with Brian on this one. Easy for us to tell you to flush it all again to do it right, it's another thing to redo all those orings, dig to the rear evap, redo both expansion valve orings/connections, etc.....(no offense to your post Hitman. Remember, this is a dodge..... )
Errr on the side of slightly too much oil. Slight cooling compromise is better than being a tad low in my opinion.
That was quite a job to tackle. Uhhh, and get a better set of gauges Mister......
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Old 07-23-2006, 07:27 PM
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Take a bottle of "Simple Green" and weigh it on a postage scale. Then spray the areas of oil mist, trying to cover the same surface area and density of the misted area. Don't forget to do the towel, also. Weigh the bottle. Take ~difference (oil is lighter than water, I know) and you've got a great approximation of how much oil was lost...........AND you've cleaned up the mess . I think it will be less than you imagine.

Reclaim the R134a, add the amount of oil needed, vacuum and charge. At least it worked on paper.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:04 PM
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I thought about punching a 2 oz oil / 2 oz refrigerant mini can in the engine bay to see if it would replicate the spray, but intentionally releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere is illegal (and messy, but then again I don't have to do in my car do I ).

I checked again on the prescribed oil capacity and have found conflicting requirements in the official dodge service manual and on the vehicle! The difference being 13.0 verses 13.7 ounces. I am now of the belief that 13.7 is the appropriate measure.

Accordingly, given the advice above (e.g., too much oil will only hamper cooling capacity, too little oil will potentially harm the compressor, its only a Dodge, etc. . . ) and my having only put in 13 vs. 13.7 ounces initially, I intend to add an additional 2 oz oil / 2 oz refrigerant. If the performance is degraded enough for me to want to start from scratch again later, at least I will not be needing a new compressor. Also weighing on this decision is my taking a driving family vacation with this vehicle at the end of the week (hence my undertaking the project in the first place), not having new gauges at the present, and not having the time before then to deal with any other unforseen problems - I've got a lot of packing to do!

BTW - I will most definitely be getting a better gauge set. Everything I've seen from Interdynamics totally sucks.
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Old 07-23-2006, 10:17 PM
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Here WE are giving you advise and wouldn't you know.....MURPHY struck at my garage today!!
My Daughter has a 2001 KIA and the A/C was a little low. I hooked my guages up and added a little R134. Well.... when I tried to take off the high side quick disconnect, it was hard to get off. Got it off and the damn valve core is leaking a fair amount. It lost enough refrigerant to make the system not work well at all. I screwed on the high side cap and the cap sealed it. Well I started adding refrigerant to the low side and I guess I added too much because all of the sudden the overpressure bleed off opened and what a noise.

Does 134 compressors get a little noisy when they are fully charged?

Well It works now but I have some work ahead of me. It has been 112 degrees here and I ain't gona screw with it now.
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Old 07-23-2006, 10:40 PM
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There just isn't any cheating the laws of physics is there?

You get full credit for sympathy because you demonstrated your concern for others before it happened to you. It is kind of like actually owning a recording artist's CD before they die a tragic death.
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Old 07-24-2006, 02:34 AM
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What pressures high and low sides were you seeing at full charge on the Dodge? I want to reference them for the KIA (P.O.S.) I wanted to put her in a Benz but she didn't like them.
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  #13  
Old 07-24-2006, 08:21 AM
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FWIW, I'd add 1 oz. of oil. The systems are more forgiving than most folks realize. Do watch for partial leakage of coolant in the caravan heating valve. I know from personal experience that those valves fail to close completely, adding unwanted heat when running A/C, similar to the monovalve issue on a MB. Also, the hose can be easily accessed and clamped
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Old 07-24-2006, 02:06 PM
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Here is an interesting addition to the story . . .

I called Interdynamics this morning to complain about their product and they immediately offered to send me a replacement for the broken hose. I then also vented about the venting of the refrigerant and the loss of oil. The customer service representative immediately said they would replace that as well. I told him I would need 4 cans of R134A and the type of oil. All he could say way ok, ok, ok.

I asked him if there had ever been any problems like this reported previously or if the Consumer Product Safety Commission had ever dealt with any of their products and was told no - never. This is the first they'd ever heard of it. Yeah, right. I think I'll call the CPSC anyway just to be sure. In any event, I don't intend to use the replacement - I just don't trust the products anymore.

I smelled real fear of a lawsuit.
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:43 AM
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Good luck on your vacation! Tell us how it goes.

About 11 years ago, we hooked up our 16' trailer to the BLACK Explorer (leather seats!) and headed out for a week long vacation in Oklahoma and Arkansas. In July. AC broke when we were about 40 miles out! Wow was it hot and miserable on that trip.......

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