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$64 A/C conversion?!


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Zack

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 05:35 PM

I just took my '90 Legacy to a local mechanic who was highly recommended to me by another Subaru owner - this mechanic is supposed to be very honest and competent, though he does not specialize in Subarus. I arranged for him to do some basic work for me (replace transmission mount, replace a shot gasket in the exhaust line).

Since my air conditioning quit 9 months ago, I also asked him to check the pressure in the A/C system. I had been having some trouble with the A/C thermostat control, and figured there was just a chance that the control was at fault and I still had pressure in my system. If in fact there was no pressure, I planned to just abandon the A/C -- I had gotten quotes from both a Subie dealer and another independent shop for approximately $400 to convert my A/C to R134a and recharge, and I didn't want to put that kind of money into the car.

So, the mechanic called me up this afternoon to tell me that all the work was done. I asked about the A/C test, and he said that the pressure in the A/C had been very low so he had converted it to R134 and it was now blowing freezing cold air. I asked how much the conversion cost, and he told me $64! Is this too good to be true? Is there anything I should ask him regarding the specifics of what he did? If in fact the A/C is now blowing cold can I assume that everything is in fact OK, or are there various problems that might develop in the future?

Zack
(still sort of stunned)
'90 Legacy wagon auto AWD 158,000 miles

#2 NoahDL88

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 05:46 PM

basically he probably just put the 134a in the R-12 system, which means that if the R-12 leaked out the 134a will too, but faster, because its a smaller molecule, because it was only 64 bucks, that leads me to believe he just put the adapter valves on and didn't infact change the O-rings and rubber hoses. my bet is by august you will be warm again.

just my .02

#3 gbianchi

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 07:21 PM

heres my story, my neibor who is also a independant mech sent me to shucks for 2 cans of 134 and 1can of oil, 21$. pulled a vacume on my ac for 30 min, then put in all the stuff, cranked on the ac and got 36 degree air form the vents, so I says COOL. then as the weather warmed up the ac started to cycle on/off to offten, so he says let out some of the 134, so I did, that was 2yrs ago and when its 90 outside its like 50 inside and I couldn't be more pleased. he didn't change ANY parts whatsoever, so theres my story, oh ya 90legacy 196,000...................KEEP THAT MECHANIC!

#4 Legacy777

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 07:25 PM

You really need to get all the old oil out of the system. Mineral oil does not mix with PAG oil and does not work with R12. The receiver/drier should get replaced, but it's not mandetory. Other then that, you can pretty much just dump oil & 134a in, and let 'er rip.

#5 richierich

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 01:32 AM

To have a reputable shop replace the reciever dryer, all the o-ring in the system and convert a vehicle over to R134 (including sucking out all the R12 Oil) and putting in R134 oil would cost you about $250-$400. You do that and 2 months later the 15 year old A/C compressor goes out. And you are pissed.

He probably saw the system was flat and inserted R134. Sound like he charged you a half an hours labor and two bottle of R134. When we have a flat R134 system at our shop, the evacuate, check for leaks, and refill system is 1 hour plus freon, more if we put dye in the system. Basically $78-81. R134 conversions start at $130, and go up depending if customer wants a reciever dryer and orings replaced.

You defiantely got what you paid for, but is the car worth putting tons of money into the A/C?, maybe he saw other repair items that he thought you could better use your money on, or better to save your money for future repairs.

I can't knock him for a different style, and trying to save you some money on a 15 year old car.

#6 NOMAD327

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 05:19 AM

I've converted a couple of older cars of other brands without doing any massive changeover. I believe the conversion kits have an oil in them which is intended to work in conjunction with the existing oil. My Taurus was converted by a Ford dealer without changing any components, even though the database called for some changes to be made. On R-12, it needed a new can of refrigerant every year. The R-134 which came with a sealant additive is on it's third year now. I do not notice any difference in performance. It may be a bit weaker than an optimum R-12 system, but mine was always trying to be low on gas, so there's a net gain in performance.

#7 Zack

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 07:39 PM

Ok, I got my car back from the mechanic this afternoon, and here's the story. The actual cost was $65 for labor/vacuum, and $44 for the conversion kit. The total cost was therefore $109, which makes alot more sense than $64, but still VERY reasonable. The mechanic says that he put a vacuum on the system, reclaimed any remaining R12, installed new O rings (which came with the conversion kit), put on new valves, and put R134a and ester oil into the system. He did not change the dryer/receiver. He claims that the leak was in the schrader valves for the R12, and that therefore the problem was solved when he put in the new valves for the R134a -- he says he put dye into the system when he recharged it, and there are no signs of any leaks.

I ran the system on the way home (about a 10 minute drive), and the A/C quickly started blowing cold air -- maybe not freezing cold, but certainly cold enough. Furthermore, there was none of the erratic on/off cycling of the compressor which I was suffering from last fall before the A/C finally quit all together. So far, I'm very happy! (Now, if only the mechanic had replaced the correct donut in the exhaust -- I asked him to switch out the front gasket, instead he switched out the rear one, so I've still got the exhaust leak. He told me to bring back the car later in the week and he'd get the gasket and install it for free...)

Zack

#8 Midwst

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 08:24 PM

No, that's right. all that needs to be done is replace two schrader valves (like tire valves...sort of) and vacuum the system out for a long time. This pulls the old R-12 out and the moisture. This assumes there is no leak. If a leak is found, probably and O ring, that is fixed first, then the vacuuming. Then a new oil is added along with the new R-134a. Considering the time to fix the leak, and vacuum the system, $64 does sound low, but not impossible. If the system was vacuumed out properly, for at least 15 min, perferably much longer, there should be no further problems.




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