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How Do I Recharge My Ac

Discussion in 'Minivans · Pacifica' started by greg.owen, Jul 27, 2003.

  1. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    One way to identify an evaporator leak in a housing which is not viewable to the eye, is to use a refrigerant leak detector sniffing device. Refrigerant is heavier than air so you insert the sniffer probe through the lowest opening in the heater - A C plenum box (heater floor outlets) and hopefully get a positive leak reading. There has to be a sufficient refrigerant charge in the system to use this method to detect a leak.
    Rick Anderson likes this.
  2. Rick Anderson

    Rick Anderson Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2002
    Yep, the more subtle way which really requires the experience of a properly trained tech that has been doing AC work for a few years. They can tell by the reactions and pressure temp relationships with the gauges on the system, especially while charging.

    Typically the pressures will look like you've reached the full charge before you put enough refrigerant in the system. That was what I was getting and taxigirl that chimed into this thread, was saying her techs were saying the same thing with her problem she posted about on another thread. We both had leaking evaporators.

    Not as foolproof as a sniffer, but I've seen posts from AC pros that have done hundreds of jobs and they described several weird reactions with the pressures that make no sense and every time they've seen those reactions, it was always an evaporator leak.

    My final symptom that lead me to correctly conclude I had an evaporator leak, I have done enough AC work I can recognize the smell of PAG Oil mixed with refrigerant. When I smelled that coming from the vents, I had no doubt, I had a leaking evaporator.

    R-134a alone doesn't have any smell, or at least not strong enough a typical person can recognize it by smell. PAG Oil has a smell. I know when PAG oil mixed with refrigerant and is released at lower pressure it makes a strong smell, I suspect the refrigerant bubbling out of the oil gets specks airborne and magnifies/spreads the smell of the PAG oil.
    #162 Rick Anderson, Dec 21, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  3. ka9yhd

    ka9yhd Active Member

    Aug 17, 2013
    Another area for a possible leak is the condenser coil in front of the radiator. On some vehicles they are mounted very low or below the front bumper and are not protected from debris on the road.
    A friend had a 1996 Dodge Intrepid and he had to replace the condenser coil because a stone put a hole in the condenser.

    You will need to inspect the entire system for any of the dye showing for possible leaks.

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