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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
--LHD 1988 Turbo 16v manual - r134a conversion a year ago.--

So far this season, I have been without A/C. At first - I thought it was just
low. I put in a can of r134a a couple weeks ago. After putting it in, the compressor fired up. About a minute later, a large cloud of steam comes rolling out around the condensor. About two minutes later, the compressor turns off and the system again has no r134a.

So, this morning, I take it in to the local saab specialist. He's a stand-up guy and has been working on the 900 since 1996. Anyway. After digging down some, he discovers one of the tubes in the condensor has a split in it.

An estimate is run up - $600. This is parts for a new condensor and labor and charging the system.

I see on eeuroparts.com a condensor is $129. I have checked the bentley and haynes, and neither say much about doing AC work.

Is a condensor something a mere mortal can put in? Or, should I pony up and drop the $600 to have it done?

Thanks.
 

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maclif said:
Is a condensor something a mere mortal can put in? Or, should I pony up and drop the $600 to have it done?
You should probably get this one done for you. Reasons:
1. High pressure systems can be dangerous for a novice.
2. You must pull a vacuum on the system prior to charging with fluid if the system pressure is low, meaning that air has gotten into the system. (This could be the reason that your can of refrigerant leaked out so quickly.) You will need a vacuum pump.
3. Refrigerant will leak out again and kill your compressor if you don't get it right.

Probably more. This is an area that I would leave to the pros. Get a quote from an A/C shop that serves all makes -- maybe would cut $200 or so? Maybe?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
eggsngrits said:
You should probably get this one done for you.
Eggs - thanks.

One of the many lessons I have learned this last year of Saab ownership is humbleness and taking an honest look at my own capabilities. Being mechanically inclined and being able to fix certain complexities of the Saab I have learned are not one and the same.

I'll take a look into some other AC places around.
 

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hey, as eggs pointed out the a/c system is really a pro job. but you still can save some money. find a good a/c place or guy who will let you bring in your own parts. eeuroparts.com parts cost much less than at a dealer or mechanic. about half as much in some cases. i'm getting my a/c fixed now. i need the two main hoses (one unit) reaplced, they pressure tested it and it was leaking very badly. $250 from my under the table a/c guy. $120?usd from uroparts, but from my autoprts job $70:cheesy: :cheesy: . so what my saab guy wanted was $1,000 for the job, my a/c guy with his parts wanted $350, and now with my parts and a touch of labour and my own parts my a/c should blow cold (fingers crossed) for under $200:cheesy: . lots of options, a/c work can be expensive, but is very simple and cheap really.
 

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I'm A/C-less too but am afraid to take it to a mechanic. I only paid $600 for the car and just can't justify spending very much to fix the A/C. Going to do some research and attempt it myself. Will post some notes if I'm successful.
 

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I had my AC on the Carlsson filled last week using R49 gas, using this I did not need to change any parts, I was lucky, when tested, no leaks. So just a matter of filling the system & adding a little oil. Once the system was pressurised the clutch on the compressor cut right in & after a minute or so, really cold air :D :D

Total cost £45.00
 

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maclif said:
I put in a can of r134a a couple weeks ago. After putting it in, the compressor fired up. About a minute later, a large cloud of steam comes rolling out around the condensor. About two minutes later, the compressor turns off and the system again has no r134a.

Is a condensor something a mere mortal can put in?
Since your ruptured condenser did a nice job of evacuation for you, there's no need to depressurize/evacuate/recapture the refrigerant. This makes it safe for DIY repairs.

I would not hesitate to replace the condenser myself. Only caution: The fittings on the condenser are aluminum, and easily damaged--be very careful not to cross-thread these as you screw the steel fittings of the lines into them.

I would also replace the combo hose (the twin rubber one that goes to the compressor) and all the O-rings in the system (about 8 or 10, IIRC). A new generic receiver/dryer, about $35 from any large parts store, is recommended but not essential.

Now, buy an R-134a recharge kit ($30 or so, with refrigerant included) from the same store, and fill 'er up yourself :)
 

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You will need to vac out the system before charging, especially if you've replaced the condensor 'cos it'll have air in it. As Profz says, the fitting of a new condensor is just a bolt up job. It'd be worth bringing it to an A/C pro (with the front grille off for ease of access) to have them leak check, vac and charge. No need to mention that you've just changed the condensor, just ask them to do the bit you can't do. Replace the receiver/dryer while you're at it...
 

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Matthew said:
I have heard that R134a is less effective than R12. Is R49 as effective as R12?
Matthew R49 is freeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzing. Just as good as R12 & you don't need to change oil etc..
 

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I had the same problem but managed to most of the work myself. I got the spares from the wrecker's yard AUD $120 and as there was no pressure in the system it was quite a simple job. I then took it to an A/C shop for vacume and gassing AUD$85. I was origionally quoted AUD$600- $800. Fitting the replacements only took an hour.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
ProfZ said:
I would not hesitate to replace the condenser myself. Only caution: The fittings on the condenser are aluminum, and easily damaged--be very careful not to cross-thread these as you screw the steel fittings of the lines into them.
That sounds like a good plan. I like the idea of taking it to a pro to get the system checked out and filled. Parts and a recharge would probably be under $250 - I like the sound of that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So - Bentley and Haynes do not go into much detail about working on the AC unit. Is there a good resource out there covering how to replace a condensor?
 

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vacuuming the air out is the "correct" way to do it. having said that, you will still get *fairly* cold air and not damage anything if you don't. Personally, I bought one of these--

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=7974041018&category=46094&sspagename=WDVW

you need quite a powerful air compressor to operate it, but it does the job for around $20.

DYI Air conditioning is well within the range of just about any "shade tree" mechanic, the principals are similar to that of a standard radiator, and you can work on that, can't you? just make sure it's de-pressurized before you go un-hooking anything. when ever replacing AC lines or any other major component because of a leak, it's always a good idea to replace the receiver/dryer and what ever O-rings you have access to while the hoses are off... we are not talking expensive parts here-- http://www.eeuroparts.com/(edbjyrqe0py2xvixpphpqs55)/productdetail.aspx?searchResults=1&code=4825

Air conditioning is not the mysterious system most mechanics would like you to think it is, there are really very few things that can go wrong with it and tracking down problems with it is not hard at all. well within the range of the DYI.
 

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I show you how to replace pretty much every component of the AC on my website. It's really not that hard to replace everything. The only catch is getting it evacuated. You can refill it yourself with R134a.


www.twinsaabs.com
 
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