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  #1  
Old 05-06-2003, 04:48 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 158
Fair AC recharge price?

Hi,

I am having trouble finding anyone who will recharge my r12 AC on my 88 190e. I did find that Pepboys will do it for $165, this is for leaktest and recharge of up to 24 ounces. Three questions.

1. Is this a fair price?
2. Will my system take more than 24 ounces?
3. Is is likely that there is a leak because the system needs a charge?


Thanks a lot.

Josh
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2003, 04:56 PM
LarryBible
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Yes it is very likely that you have a leak, but if the car has NEVER been recharged, the possibility exists that it just leaked out over time. A one ounce per year leak would have leaked enough to render the system inoperative.

$165 sounds a little high, but if they are the only ones that will do it in your area, that probably explains a lot.

The main thing is that you are dilligent in looking for leaks, you don't want to do this again soon. It would be very good if they put in some UV dye so that if there is a leak then it will be easy to find.

Good luck,
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2003, 05:17 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Southern California
Posts: 2,036
Most establishments that still service R-12 are charging about 60 bucks a pound, and you have to add something for labor.

There is an A/C label on the radiator support that lists the capacity of the system. For my '88 190E 2.6 it is 1.0 kilograms, which is 2.2 pounds, or about 35.2 ounces. The vapor pressure of R-12 at room temperature is about 70 psi, so if the initial system pressure check shows less than about 70 psi, there is no liquid freon left in the system.

I believe EPA requirments require the licensed R-12 tech and establishment to check for leaks and not let the car leave with a R-12 charge if any leaks are found. They have to either repair the leak or evacuate the R-12 if the customer chooses not to have the leak repaired.

Whoever does the work, make it clear that you want recorded the initial system pressure and how much, if any, freon they recover from the system when it's evacuated.

Duke

Last edited by Duke2.6; 05-06-2003 at 05:40 PM.
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  #4  
Old 05-06-2003, 05:28 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Plano, TX
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No, the EPA doesn't care whether the system is leaking or not, doesn't require you to fix, and doesn't prevent you from topping up a system which leaks. There may be tighter local restrictions in place, and I wouldn't be surprised if So. Cal. was one of those places.

The price sounds awful high to me, but I haven't paid for a/c service in the last 10 years or so. And that's only for a pound and a half of R-12, less than half a full charge.

- JimY
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  #5  
Old 05-06-2003, 05:35 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Portsmouth UK
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Quote:
Originally posted by Duke2.6
There is an A/C label on the radiator support that lists the capacity of the system. For my '88 190E 2.6 it is 2.0 kilograms, which is 2.2 pounds, or about 35.2 ounces.
Duke
Hi Duke

On this side of the Atlantic each kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds!!



Regards
NormanB
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  #6  
Old 05-06-2003, 05:42 PM
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Hey, it's already time for my afternoon nap, and I haven't even had lunch yet.

I went back and corrected my post. Thanks for pointing out the error.

Duke
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2003, 08:38 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 158
Price update

Well I had to stop at pepboys on the way home to pick a few things up, and figured I would ask how much just to leak test the system. The guy told me $39 to leak test and $207 to recharge!! He told me I was misquoted over the phone the first time.

This makes me want to consider going to walmart and getting the 134a conversion. But the compressor is working and i see stuff through the site glass, not oil just some bubbles. And is ever so slightly cool, but by no means cold. So I would like to think that the system is semi-operable, perhaps just a very small leak as Larry had suggested. And I would just like to stay with the R12 after reading all the posts. I just cant help but think it may be less expensive to have the system leak tested and flushed and then I can take it from there with the kit.

Any thoughts?
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  #8  
Old 05-06-2003, 09:57 PM
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Location: Southern California
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Basic A/C service consists or evacuating the system and the equipment should measure and hold the amount of refrigerant that is removed. The vacuum pump should be kept running after the system has been pumped down to 1" Hg. or less for several minutes, then the pump is shut off and the vacuum should be observed for several minutes to see if it holds. This is one leak test. The high vacuum will cause moisture absorbed by the receiver/dryer to be purged from the system.

If the system holds a vacuum, which indicates there are no leaks, the refrigerant that was removed is reinstalled and fresh refrigerant is added to bring the system to the 2.2 pound capacity.

Once the system is full the system should be engaged while the tech uses the detector to check for leaks. It's also a good idea to ask them to install the leak check dye, which will show up under a black light for future leak detection.

If your system is just barely operating, the refrigerant charge is probably down to about one-half, so if the their basic A/C service as described above is 40 bucks, and they charge 60 bucks per pound for R-12, and you need about a pound, you should get out of there for a little over $100.

I've talked to a number of industry professionals - many at SEMA with companies that sell A/C servicing equipment - and every single one of them has recommended that I stay with R-12 as long as it is available.

Duke
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2003, 10:16 PM
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Location: USA
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I paid about $120 last fall for a recharge.
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  #10  
Old 05-06-2003, 10:18 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 326
These prices are not out of line depending on the price of R-12 in your area. If your system is just low on R-12 have it charged up. The only time I recommend switching over to 134A is if the A/C system has a major failure, e.g. compressor seizes.

Be aware the EPA DOES care what happens to R-12. Should the technician find a leak and you decline to repair the shop is required by law to reclaim the system.

Fact of the matter is that ALL automotive A/C systems leak. There are too many moving parts, seals, hoses, fittings for them not to leak.
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  #11  
Old 05-07-2003, 12:06 AM
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Location: Plano, TX
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Here's the EPA's text (off their website, pulled 5/6/2003) regarding repair of leaks and topping off of leaking systems:

What are the leak repair requirements?
EPA regulations do not dictate any particular service, as long as a technician is certified to work with refrigerant and any recycling equipment he or she uses meets EPA standards. EPA does not require that leak repair be performed before refrigerant is charged into a vehicle, although certain states and localities may require such repair. In addition, EPA does not require that the refrigerant be evacuated and cleaned prior to recharging the system with refrigerant. In other words, EPA does not require evacuation and recharge, and does permit top-off with the same refrigerant, in motor vehicle air-conditioners. If you are unsure about any EPA regulations governing auto air-conditioning, call the Hotline number listed above.

Obviously, the EPA does not require leaking systems be reclaimed, essentially stealing refrigerant from the consumer. I don't know why any technician would say anything different.

- JimY
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  #12  
Old 05-07-2003, 08:36 AM
LarryBible
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jrbnc,

Whatever you do, don't use one of the death kits from Wal Mart. If you insist on converting the system, do it right and flush the entire system and empty the refrigerant from the compressor, replace all o-rings with 134 compatible ones, replace the filter drier, evacuate and recharge.

The kit may get you cold air for awhile but it is eventual certain death for the system.

Good luck,
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  #13  
Old 05-07-2003, 11:25 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 158
ThankYou

Thankyou everyone for all your input. The wealth of knowledge on this forum is spectacular!! I will weigh everything that was said and try to figure out what I will do before the hot weather is here.

A Few followup questions:

1. If I decide to convert, will a system flush by a shop clean out the compressor or does the compressor need to be removed to be evacuated of remaining fluid?

2. Would the following steps be the correct ones? Assuming the answer to the above question is that I wont need to remove the compressor.

a. Have system completely flushed.
b. Replace O-rings
c. Replace drier
d. Recharge with 134a

Thanks,

Josh
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  #14  
Old 05-07-2003, 12:33 PM
LarryBible
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Some of the shops have machines that flush the entire system, but I know nothing about them or their use.

Typically flushing is done by disconnecting everything and flushing each hose and component individually, then ensuring that the flush is completely blown out of each piece. Then the compressor is removed and as much refrigerant as possible is poured out, then the correct amount of Ester oil is poured in the compressor and reinstalled. Once the system is reassembled, you turn the compressor several turns by hand to see that it is not liquid bound at startup.

Given all this falderol, you would be better served to simply repair your leak and recharge with R12. This, in most cases, is cheaper and the result will be an a/c with maximum cooling capacity.

Have a great day,
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  #15  
Old 05-07-2003, 01:37 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 158
fyi...

After calling almost every shop in town, i found one who does r12 and they gave me the following qoute, so I decided I will try the pressure test with these folks and then based on what they say go from there.

Pressure test : $24.95
Charge : $39.95
R12 per pound : $35

They say I may need up to 2 pounds.

This is more in the ball park of what I was looking to pay, however I just hope there is not a large cost involved if they find a leak.
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