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Old 07-10-2006, 08:27 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 88
AC and 420 SEL

My AC is blowing air that is barely cooling the car. I need to get the system checked so would you guys recommend that I take it to a MB indy shop or would it be safe to take it to one of the chain stores? I patronize a good local indy shop but their rates are $98/hr. so I was wondering if an AC would be routine for a chain store like Firestone Complete Auto Care.

P.S. My car is a 1988 with 104K miles. At 55K miles approx. five years ago the sys was evacuated/recharged. The compressor was rebuilt.


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Old 07-11-2006, 12:16 AM
jbaj007's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Posts: 2,053
Mercedes air conditioning is such a combination of electrical, vacuum and mechanical; I think an mb shop will save you time, and therefore money. FAR from routine IMHO.
The Golden Rule

1984 300SD (bought new, sold it in 1988, bought it back 13 yrs. later)
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Old 07-11-2006, 12:39 AM
Jim B.'s Avatar
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: N. California./ N. Nevada
Posts: 3,611
Unfortunately the AC is the Achilles heel of these W126 cars.

A Firestone store simply couldn't be expected to deal with this - it is complex.

Check the "Good Mechanics" section here for a good indie mechanic in your area.

From what I have read here it is not a good idea to contemplate a switch to R134 on these cars, either.

Jim B.
1991 560 SEC AMG, 199k <---- 300 hp 10:1 ECE euro HV ...

1995 E 420, 170k "The Red Plum" (sold)

2015 BMW 535i xdrive awd Stage 1 DINAN, 6k, <----364 hp

1967 Mercury Cougar, 49k

2013 Jaguar XF, 20k <----340 hp Supercharged, All Wheel Drive (sold)
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Old 07-11-2006, 07:18 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
If the problem is on the mechanical side, like low freon or a leak, then any competent shop should be able to check it out. The basics of the AC are standard. If the problem is in the ACC controls, then you need a specialist.

A lot of times you can find a $39 diagnostic special, where you get a pound of freon and a dye test for leaks, which is a good deal.
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 07-15-2006, 11:55 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 88
Yesterday I had the AC sys. evacuated/recharged. It was down on Freon about 1/3 or 1 lb..

The cooling is a bit better but not compeletely comfortable. Fan/air volume blows fine.

This is the first "heat wave" summer I have spent in Texas. Temps are 100 degrees plus with high humidity. I am thinking that this is about as good as it gets given that MB is not known for great AC sys, especially an older model car. Do you agree?

As I posted earlier, about six years ago the compressor was replaced including all v-belts, valves/caps, receiver/dryer, pressure/uax fan switches.
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Old 07-15-2006, 12:12 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 2,580
Many of the national chain operations no longer carry R-12 refrigerant. Same holds true for many independent garages and dealerships.

I do not know what refrigerant you have in your system, so you will definitely want to first call around and ask if they are qualified to do refrigerant analysis(what type is in the system) and if they can service an R-12 system.

I know some of you may think that determining what type of refrigerant a car holds would be a commonplace task, but it would scare you if you knew how many shops haven't a clue.

Good advise above. Find an independent shop that's familiar with MBs.

I wouldn't let Firestone change a tire, let alone work on an MB.

Mike Murrell
1991 300-SEL - Model 126
M103 - SOHC
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