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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(1994 2.3) My a/c's been bad for a while and I had it diagnosed so I knew the condenser and drier leaked but the compressor was probably doing fine. Estimate was $1200, and all the shops I called said about the same. As this is clearly unreasonable I left it alone for some time. Until today, when having never done anything handy on the car before besides once exorcising a high idle, I removed the condenser myself with no difficulties. (just the grille, horn, and right headlights off)

I could hear a slight amount of gas escaping when I took the lines off the drier. It had been two years since the system was checked, so maybe things are pretty intact. Also some coolant-looking fluid escaped which I took to be compressor oil with dye. I have the lines plugged with a rag

Where do I go from here? There is a lot of information on a/c repair, but mostly on the compressor and not all in one place. I've got a plan, but I'd like somebody to check my work:

1. Fit replacement condensor + drier
2. Pull a vacuum with manifold gauge and vacuum pump
-Am I right to say that if it can hold a vacuum after switching off the pump then there's no leak?
3a. Vacuum doesn't hold: Charge with UV product from can, look for spots with light/goggles kit, replace more parts, try again
3b. Vacuum holds: Add r134 can contents to low side with the manifold with the car running + ac on.

Two big questions:
1. What about the oil? When do I add the 200 mL PAG 20 SK? Is there a product that contains oil with the r134?
2. Is there a comprehensive list of seals and gaskets that would best be replaced, or should I just wait to see what leaks?
 

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(1994 2.3) My a/c's been bad for a while and I had it diagnosed so I knew the condenser and drier leaked but the compressor was probably doing fine. Estimate was $1200, and all the shops I called said about the same. As this is clearly unreasonable I left it alone for some time. Until today, when having never done anything handy on the car before besides once exorcising a high idle, I removed the condenser myself with no difficulties. (just the grille, horn, and right headlights off)

I could hear a slight amount of gas escaping when I took the lines off the drier. It had been two years since the system was checked, so maybe things are pretty intact. Also some coolant-looking fluid escaped which I took to be compressor oil with dye. I have the lines plugged with a rag

Where do I go from here? There is a lot of information on a/c repair, but mostly on the compressor and not all in one place. I've got a plan, but I'd like somebody to check my work:

1. Fit replacement condensor + drier
2. Pull a vacuum with manifold gauge and vacuum pump
-Am I right to say that if it can hold a vacuum after switching off the pump then there's no leak?
3a. Vacuum doesn't hold: Charge with UV product from can, look for spots with light/goggles kit, replace more parts, try again
3b. Vacuum holds: Add r134 can contents to low side with the manifold with the car running + ac on.

Two big questions:
1. What about the oil? When do I add the 200 mL PAG 20 SK? Is there a product that contains oil with the r134?
2. Is there a comprehensive list of seals and gaskets that would best be replaced, or should I just wait to see what leaks?
Add the oil before you install the receiver/drier and pull the vacuum. that way, you can use a standard bottle of oil rather than the much more expensive oil charges and know you've not let any air, water or debris into the system.

Most common places for leaks in an a/c system are the service valves. After that, the flex hoses can fail over time as can the various o-rings in the system.

An overlooked place for a leak is the front seal on the compressor. Particularly if the system has not been run for a long time, the seal can dry out. Sometimes, running the system so the refrigerant oil re-wets the sealing surfaces is all it'll need.

Two pretty easy ways to find a leak in an a/c system:

1st, simply check for spots that are oily or dirty. As the refrigerant leaks out, it carries oil with it that accumulates at the leak.

2nd, it's old school but works well, put just a bit of pressure into the system and spray the a/c components with a soap solution. The leak will cause bubbles to form.

One thing I've seen on a coupld SAAB's is when the rear engine/trans mount fails, the a/c hoses and lines between the compressor and the rest of the car can take a real beating. They'll only flex so much, so often before the aluminum tubing cracks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ah, thanks for the tips. Too late for #1, and there's distributor-slung oil around the area anyways. #2 is smart, it's what I do with my beer kegs and it works with just a few psi.

You might be on to something with the motor mounts, which somebody else had replaced in recent history and put in the logbook. But there's this outer covering around those lines, and they look pretty bad on my car. If the lines leak, that covering will make it impossible to see...should I just cut it off??
 

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My system was not doing well so I charged it using a can of 134a with a gauge. It took 1 1/2 cans with the pressure as indicated. Then, I got compressor cycling so it had too much pressure on the high side. I didn't have a manifold to read the high side so went to a shop and asked them to just tell me the pressures. I figured I had a bad expansion valve and was ready to open up the system. In the end, they convinced me to let them do the check so they drained, weighed, and refilled the system. I had put 30g too much in although the pressure they read hi/low was correct. They also told me pressure was a good indicator in the 112a days but not for 134a. Since the system holds 900g total, we're not talking about much difference but it really works well now.

The cars do lose 134a over time so they also dropped in florescent dye. Thanks to win_k above, I think I may know where this one is coming from - I have bad transmission/motor mounts so will get under the hood with a UV flashlight this evening and see if the hard lines are leaking.
 
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