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I tried it again with engine and recir both on. Kept both depressed beyond when 'off' showed in the window. Left side reads 0, right side nothing at all
Push AUTO and OFF until it goes "bong" and zero appears on the left. No need to keep it held. It is sensitive to having the two buttons pressed simultaneously. If one is pressed too late you will get the command from that button i.e. it will switch off or go into Auto mode. Hopefully it will stay zero with no fault codes on the right, until its done the test and gone back to normal display. If codes found, it will show the number of codes on the left, and the most recent code on the right. If more than one, you have to be watching it to catch them as only the last is shown on test completion.

If you have warmer setting (say 78F, it will cycle and turn-on and off as required.
I think the 9-5 compressor is variable displacement with a swashplate, i.e. it is engaged continuously, output being varied according to demand.

However you can still hear the compressor clutch engaging without getting underneath etc. etc. Select a low temp, ensure the fan is running slow, and select ECON to disable the compressor. You should hear something, and there will probably be a tiny rpm drop/recovery.

In my limited experience (of car AC systems) the 9-5 design is strange. Air comes through the evaporator (i.e. cold) and either goes through the heater matrix (to warm it up a bit) or around the top and bottom of the matrix (theoretically avoiding it). Mixing flaps top and bottom achieve this. However even if full cold is selected, i.e. the air is directed around the matrix without being forced through it, the cold air still has to travel across the face of the heater matrix, with the inevitable consequence that it heats up a bit. Ridiculous.

When mine runs out of refrigerant but is still partially cooling, I can see for example 10˚C air at the right centre vent and extreme excursions to 40˚C (yes, forty!) at the side left side outer vent. The cold gas enters the evaporator on the right side, and hasn't got the oomph to cool all the way over to the left side of the evaporator (I know this by placing my hand on the evaporator face) so the left side of the HVAC unit doesn't get cool. Note that I'm in UK and left/right may be reversed compared to the LHD version, which is a mirror image. May be, because I think the evaporator plumbing might be the same. But you get the idea. I've seen a cross-sectional diagram of the HVAC unit which makes it clear.

So this is why you can still get air out the vents which is hotter then ambient.

Anyway - Priority one for me would be to get it gassed up with fluorescent dye, and find the leaks with a UV light. I wonder whether a chain store place that happens to offer AC top ups will be able to diagnose/analyse. I don't trust 'em, and use a mobile AC specialist. Marginally more $$ but infinitely more expertise/knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Push AUTO and OFF until it goes "bong" and zero appears on the left. No need to keep it held. It is sensitive to having the two buttons pressed simultaneously. If one is pressed too late you will get the command from that button i.e. it will switch off or go into Auto mode. Hopefully it will stay zero with no fault codes on the right, until its done the test and gone back to normal display. If codes found, it will show the number of codes on the left, and the most recent code on the right. If more than one, you have to be watching it to catch them as only the last is shown on test completion.



I think the 9-5 compressor is variable displacement with a swashplate, i.e. it is engaged continuously, output being varied according to demand.

However you can still hear the compressor clutch engaging without getting underneath etc. etc. Select a low temp, ensure the fan is running slow, and select ECON to disable the compressor. You should hear something, and there will probably be a tiny rpm drop/recovery.

In my limited experience (of car AC systems) the 9-5 design is strange. Air comes through the evaporator (i.e. cold) and either goes through the heater matrix (to warm it up a bit) or around the top and bottom of the matrix (theoretically avoiding it). Mixing flaps top and bottom achieve this. However even if full cold is selected, i.e. the air is directed around the matrix without being forced through it, the cold air still has to travel across the face of the heater matrix, with the inevitable consequence that it heats up a bit. Ridiculous.

When mine runs out of refrigerant but is still partially cooling, I can see for example 10˚C air at the right centre vent and extreme excursions to 40˚C (yes, forty!) at the side left side outer vent. The cold gas enters the evaporator on the right side, and hasn't got the oomph to cool all the way over to the left side of the evaporator (I know this by placing my hand on the evaporator face) so the left side of the HVAC unit doesn't get cool. Note that I'm in UK and left/right may be reversed compared to the LHD version, which is a mirror image. May be, because I think the evaporator plumbing might be the same. But you get the idea. I've seen a cross-sectional diagram of the HVAC unit which makes it clear.

So this is why you can still get air out the vents which is hotter then ambient.

Anyway - Priority one for me would be to get it gassed up with fluorescent dye, and find the leaks with a UV light. I wonder whether a chain store place that happens to offer AC top ups will be able to diagnose/analyse. I don't trust 'em, and use a mobile AC specialist. Marginally more $$ but infinitely more expertise/knowledge.
Is fluorescent die available at auto stores?
 

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Is fluorescent die available at auto stores?
It's available everywhere, Amazon, ebay, parts stores.....

Just curious, why don't you take your car to a shop and have it professionally assessed and get an estimate to have it repaired?

Have you checked that the actuator arm for the recirculation flap (above the cabin air filter housing) hasn't broken? Very common failure.
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It's available everywhere, Amazon, ebay, parts stores.....

Just curious, why don't you take your car to a shop and have it professionally assessed and get an estimate to have it repaired?

Have you checked that the actuator arm for the recirculation flap (above the cabin air filter housing) hasn't broken? Very common failure.
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Im on social security, and my credit card is close to maxed out. Need to try less expensive things first

No, I haven't checked the actuator arm

Thanks for the help and tips
 

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Im on social security, and my credit card is close to maxed out. Need to try less expensive things first
The unfortunate thing is the system is too complicated to try less expensive things yourself and you will most likely end up in a scenario where you increase the cost of the inevitable repair by "trying less expensive things".

As soon as you crack into the DIY stuff you are seriously complicating things for a professional that might be able to help you.

I would consult a shop, ask them how much a diagnosis would cost and then go from there.
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The unfortunate thing is the system is too complicated to try less expensive things yourself and you will most likely end up in a scenario where you increase the cost of the inevitable repair by "trying less expensive things".

As soon as you crack into the DIY stuff you are seriously complicating things for a professional that might be able to help you.

I would consult a shop, ask them how much a diagnosis would cost and then go from there.
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IMO, the least expensive thing I can do is die + recharge. Beyond that I will have to suffer with the heat until the weather changes

but thanks for your help
 

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You don't want to blindly recharge the system. You could still have 100% of the refrigerant in the system and it stopped working for other reasons. Overfilling it would/could damage the system. At this point, seems to me that you don't know what is causing the "hot-air-through-vents" situation. Could be many different reasons (some suggested stuck or broke re-circulation motor/flap). But it could be many other reasons. One of which is that you're low on refrigerant and the compressor stopped pumping for that reason (needs certain pressure to work). Or, you've totally lost all refrigerant due to a large leak or a failed compressor shaft seal. But it could also be caused by electrical issues (fuse, relay, burnt wire...), a bad pressure switch, radiator fans that stopped working, sticky expansion valve, etc., etc.

If i were you, i would bring the car through one of those drive through oil places where they also service AC (Valvoline for sure does) and they will be able to hook-up the gauges and let you know if you have refrigerant in the system at normal level. of it is low or if you're completely empty. I don't think they would charge you a penny to do that. If you still have refrigerant in the system, be sure to ask them what the Low-Pressure and High-Pressure readings were (in terms of PSI) and what the ambient temperature was at the time (silly me, you're in Florida.... hot-day!) they did it Then you can post back here with more data and members will be able to give you more solid advise and you can decide what to do from there..
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I had it semi charged about 3 months ago. It was barely cool for a week or so. Likely a leak. The only way I know how to check for leaks is to put some dye and at least partially recharge. Yes or no?
 

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I had it semi charged about 3 months ago.
That would have been nice to know over a week and over thirty posts ago!

What a huge waste of time spent by everyone that has tried to help, that tid bit basically nullifies this whole thread and our time spent.
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So the plot thickens. Yes, sounds like a (significant) leak. I suppose you could charge it up with one can (I don't know for sure if one can is enough...may take two cans?) of refrigerant with dye in it and see if you get the compressor clutch to kick-in and let the refrigerant with dye circulate for a while (drive the car around for at least 20-30 minutes and then start looking for the leak). The question is what you really want to accomplish here? You already know that you have leak of some sort so dumping refrigerant into the system will just cost you money as it will leak-out very fast and will not get you through the remaining warm weather season in Florida. Unless you want to repeat the re-charging process every week or at least bi-weekly.

And if you manage to determine what is causing the leak (busted compressor shaft seal, O-rings, punctured condenser, whatever), what will be your next step? Take it to a shop and tell them that X component needs to be replaced or will you try to fix it yourself?

If you intend to repair it yourself, you will need manifold gauges and a vacuum pump, which you can rent for free at an auto parts store (well usually you have to pay the full price up-front, and they will give it back to you when you return the equipment). So renting will probably "cost" you $150 (give or take) up-front when your take the equipment out of the store. If you manage to find the source of the leak and if you want to fix it, you will need these pieces of equipment during the trouble shooting and recharge process (I'll explain why below).

If you're down to zero pressure, you know you have a substantial leak. You can trace leaks with compressed air and a spray bottle with 50/50 soap and water as well (if you have an air compressor that is). Fill-up the system with 100-150 PSI compressed air and start spraying the components with the soapy water solution. Where you find bubbles, you have a leak. This is a very effective way to find leaks and you're not wasting any refrigerant. But it is unlikely that it will help you determine if the compressor or evaporator are leaking with this method. But, with compressed air, you could find leaks in the service ports (where the Schrader valves are and common sources for leaks), connections between the pipes (which have O-rings), punctured pipes or a punctured condenser. Depending on the size of the leak, you may even hear the hissing noise from it. So using compressed air is a low-cost (and old school) way of tracing leaks in the AC system. If you find nothing with this method, then add dye and refrigerant to the system and trace it that way. If you don't find anything with dye either, it is possible that the evaporator is leaking. You would need a refrigerant "sniffer" for this (could probably be rented too but not sure - I own mine and never asked for one in an auto store).

No matter how you found the leak (with compressed air or dye) you will now have to have the system evacuated. It is illegal to let the refrigerant out in the air, so you will have to take the car to a shop that can evacuate it for you (if you're lucky they will do it for free or charge a nominal fee). Once evacuated, fix the component that is causing the leak. Then put the system under vacuum with the vacuum pump for 30-60 mins (this will suck-out the moisture from the system …. moisture is enemy #1 for the AC so don't skip this step). It should pull down to -29-30 Hg. If you successfully fixed the leak, the pressure should hold and you test that by letting it sit for 30 or more minutes (I prefer over night for real certainty) with the pump off. If no movement on the needle, now you can recharge the system, which you will have to do by weight (so you'll need a scale as well). From memory, it takes 825 grams to fill (slightly less than three (3) 12-oz cans). Edit: You will also need to add PAG-146 oil to the system. How much depends what component you replaced and it is critical that you don't add too much oil or that the system lacks oil, as it will cause problems. Note that you do need both pieces of equipment (gauges and pump) to do the vacuuming as the manifold gauges hook-up to the vacuum pump.

As you can see, the AC system is very involved and you have to have some basic knowledge to work on it (which you can certainly gain from YouTube...lots of good videos there). But now you can sympathize with why Bob recommended you to bring the car to a shop...

Sorry for the lengthy note, but I wanted to give you a complete picture what you're up against. Now it is up to you if you want to enter the black-magic world of AC repairs.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #33 (Edited)
That would have been nice to know over a week and over thirty posts ago!

What a huge waste of time spent by everyone that has tried to help, that tid bit basically nullifies this whole thread and our time spent.
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I'm sorry, was there anything in my questions that would indicate that I have a clue? Anyway, you could have asked, but I got lots of great advice, especially after Gidner's last post which points out the problem when there is a leak. I'm retired on social security, and need to do what 'I' can. What I have learned, from Gidner, is I'm above my depth. The guy who put some Freon in a couple months ago, simply added some, and me being ignorant, I was simply following his lead.

If, as Gidner says, I would need to add 1 or 2 canisters (which I never considered), and that it would leak out anyway, then my only recourse is to take it to a shop to be done professionally at ~ $100/hour, and should it turn out to be a big ticket item, like a compressor, or something labor intensive, as accessing the actuator arm by the air filter would be, there would be a lot of labor hours involved. I do not have the funds for that

Gidner, Thank you so much. Not only did your help save me money, you also kept more Freon out of the atmosphere
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Considering the above reply, tomorrow I am supposed to get the AirPRO replacement canister and gauge. Should I at least use the gauge to check how much Freon is in the system? It might be ZERO, as when I first checked; I might have had the engine and AC both on then, but the second time I did not and blew the gauge gasket when I turned the car and ac on
 

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@5X...
Sure, why not. But if you hooked-up the gauge properly last time and the reading was zero pressure, it will still be zero tomorrow so you will not learn anything new. A bit hard to guide you here since we don't know what the pressure readings were when your friend did the semi-charge and how much refrigerant you had in the system before it stopped working again after a week. So you don't know how long you would have cold air if you added, say, two 12-oz cans now. Suppose you could always try it and see how long it lasts this time. But like I said before, it would be a very temporary fix and a shame on the environment. Rather, you should probably let it go now and call-around some shops and find-out if any of them would do a free diagnosis for you. At least then you will know with certainly what you're up against and what it may cost you to fix this. The trick would be to find a honest and reputable shop that will give you honest answers. Sadly, shady shops may take you for a ride and say that the compressor, condenser and evaporator will all have to be changed and it will cost $2000+, even if the problem stemmed from rotted O-rings. Hard to argue against if you don't have the tools/knowledge to validate their claims and the SOB's know it. So just don't take one shops advise as gospel and get 2nd opinions. If they do the diagnosis for free, you got nothing to lose.

Sorry for your demise. It sucks being without AC (been there, done that) so I can feel your pain. Good luck and hopes for an easy and low-cost fix.
 

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@5X...
Sure, why not. But if you hooked-up the gauge properly last time and the reading was zero pressure, it will still be zero tomorrow so you will not learn anything new. A bit hard to guide you here since we don't know what the pressure readings were when your friend did the semi-charge and how much refrigerant you had in the system before it stopped working again after a week. So you don't know how long you would have cold air if you added, say, two 12-oz cans now. Suppose you could always try it and see how long it lasts this time. But like I said before, it would be a very temporary fix and a shame on the environment. Rather, you should probably let it go now and call-around some shops and find-out if any of them would do a free diagnosis for you. At least then you will know with certainly what you're up against and what it may cost you to fix this. The trick would be to find a honest and reputable shop that will give you honest answers. Sadly, shady shops may take you for a ride and say that the compressor, condenser and evaporator will all have to be changed and it will cost $2000+, even if the problem stemmed from rotted O-rings. Hard to argue against if you don't have the tools/knowledge to validate their claims and the SOB's know it. So just don't take one shops advise as gospel and get 2nd opinions. If they do the diagnosis for free, you got nothing to lose.

Sorry for your demise. It sucks being without AC (been there, done that) so I can feel your pain. Good luck and hopes for an easy and low-cost fix.
Thanks again for your concern and help.

I used to have ample money to care for her, but for the last couple years my company has barely survived, so no spare money for car repairs, which hurts me deeply. I probably need sub-frame bushes too (163K miles)

Fortunately, I rarely drive more than 30 minutes at a time, and try to avoid the major heat of the day when I do.

The problem is I don't recall whether I hooked the AC PRO up correctly the first time to get a ZERO reading, but the second time I neglected to have the engine running and the ac on, so when I engaged the pressure valve POP and hissing from the can as Freon was leaking out. After I disconnected the valve, I did hear a hissing sound that seemed to come from near the bottom of the radiator or possibly condenser, but it sounded like it was on the engine side. when i shut the car down the CEL was on. The hissing stopped after a bit (bleed off valve?) and after restarting the car the CEL was gone

I agree, I don't know what the reading was when my body shop friend recharged it with a half empty canister either, and we all know- I don't know what I'm doing

The biggest issue is, since the car has been in S Florida 6+ month hot summer sun for over 12 years of my ownership (this summer it's been in the high 90s every damn day) the hot sun could have taken its toll on the O-rings. When I first got her back in 2008, I had to replace all the vacuum lines, and eventually water hoses, a sure sign of heat rot

There is a nearby business that specializes in car AC, which is my best bet, but who knows how honest they are, although they've been in biz 30+ years. Most likely, I would need to leave it there until they test it, but I can ask before going there

Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter #37
I went to auto parts and found an aerosol that combines dye with lubricant and sealer

Is this snake oil.. or a possible fix
IMG_4959.JPG
?
 

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@5XSaab...On the stop-leak, could not really tell you if it is good or bad. Seen many opinions on it, some rave about it but some treats it like the plague. I suppose, if your demise is rotten O-rings, the stop-leak could help with that. But if it is a bigger leak, like a puncture in the condenser, puncture in one of the AC lines, shot compressor seal, etc., it would not do much to stop the leak I don't think.

But you still don't know what the pressure in the system is or isn't. If you're just low on refrigerant, I suppose you could give the stop-leak a try. What do you have to loose? But it is your car, your decision and will not advise you for or against.

I would still try to get somebody with real manifold gauges tell you what the LP and HP pressures are in the system (or confirm that it is zero). Not sure if those cans will really show your pressure, they typically just show the range. Do you know anybody with gauges? Or swing by the shop you mentioned or a Valvoline drive through (I know I sound like a broken record on this) and get the LP and HP pressures read and then report it back here (unless the shop can tell you right off the bat what the problem is). If you're lucky and you're just low on refrigerant due to a small leak, the refilling could be worth a try and you'd get dye into the system also. (but if you're not going to do the job yourself, what is the point of adding dye?). They would likely do that at a professional shop as port of their troubleshooting anyway.

Hissing noise - not sure what that is Could be a puncture in the radiator perhaps- have you had the coolant go low? I had a puncture in my radiator (actually it was KIA) at the top, where plastic and aluminum is joined. It was hissing for a while (5-10 seconds maybe?) after we turned the car off and then stopped as the pressure in the system was reduced. But there was no visible coolant leak, just hissing noise. But when i filled-up the system and pressure tested it, i could get coolant to spurt out from that joint. So I suspect it was only leaking under high load (i.e., when driving) and that's why I never got any tell-tale coolant puddles on the garage floor. While it could perhaps be a puncture in the condenser or the AC lines that run behind the radiator, it does not make sense to me if your clutch is not working and the compressor is not pumping. The pressure in the system is then static across the whole AC system and the same when the car is off or running. In other words, you're not building-up pressure so how could there by any hissing noise since the pressure is not really reducing (as it is static to begin with)? But if you decide to recharge and get the clutch to engage again (meaning compressor is pumping), and hear this hissing noise in that area again you could suspect a puncture in the condenser or possibly one of the AC lines. But you may want to visually inspect the condenser as it is prune to punctures due to its location. Usually there are tell-tale signs that PAG oil has leaked-out (and of course refrigerant as well) and you can see discolored (kinda whitish) areas on the condenser. If you see such spot or spots, then you can almost be certain that the radiator is the culprit (or one of the culprits).

Too bad about your situation. The world is upside down. I work in an industry that is serving the commercial airline industry (but also the military, which I support) and, as you can imagine, we are hurting a lot when the airlines are not operating. Revenues from spare parts sales and services are plummeting and that's where we make the money to pay the bills and salaries. We've laid-off more than 13,000 people since March...and not sure if they will take further action. So, I feel your pain in watching the good old dollar (I am too). This is a big reason why I try to do most of my own repairs, but I have to admit that I also enjoy it to some degree.
 

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Well Saab95X... I think maybe you know the answer to your demise. I was just cruising along on the forum and came across this post that you posted 28 days ago:
Here you indicate that "the damage to the front-end was minor" and then start asking questions about the condenser. Did your AC problems start after this "damage" that you incurred "to the front end" (you did not explain what happened- did you drive into something in front of you, another car, or?) ". But my guess is that your AC trouble started after this "incident")? Well if that is so, it is a strong possibility that you punctured the condenser or that some of the AC pipes that connect to the receiver drier (lives on the right hand side of the condenser) and the condenser may have been disturbed to the point that you have a leak. Could very well be that hissing sound you were talking about.

For the future, it is very important that you reveal all relevant facts when you post as it would make it a lot easier for the members to try to help you. But it is hard operate in darkness.
 

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@5XSaab...On the stop-leak, could not really tell you if it is good or bad. Seen many opinions on it, some rave about it but some treats it like the plague. I suppose, if your demise is rotten O-rings, the stop-leak could help with that. But if it is a bigger leak, like a puncture in the condenser, puncture in one of the AC lines, shot compressor seal, etc., it would not do much to stop the leak I don't think.

But you still don't know what the pressure in the system is or isn't. If you're just low on refrigerant, I suppose you could give the stop-leak a try. What do you have to loose? But it is your car, your decision and will not advise you for or against.

I would still try to get somebody with real manifold gauges tell you what the LP and HP pressures are in the system (or confirm that it is zero). Not sure if those cans will really show your pressure, they typically just show the range. Do you know anybody with gauges? Or swing by the shop you mentioned or a Valvoline drive through (I know I sound like a broken record on this) and get the LP and HP pressures read and then report it back here (unless the shop can tell you right off the bat what the problem is). If you're lucky and you're just low on refrigerant due to a small leak, the refilling could be worth a try and you'd get dye into the system also. (but if you're not going to do the job yourself, what is the point of adding dye?). They would likely do that at a professional shop as port of their troubleshooting anyway.

Hissing noise - not sure what that is Could be a puncture in the radiator perhaps- have you had the coolant go low? I had a puncture in my radiator (actually it was KIA) at the top, where plastic and aluminum is joined. It was hissing for a while (5-10 seconds maybe?) after we turned the car off and then stopped as the pressure in the system was reduced. But there was no visible coolant leak, just hissing noise. But when i filled-up the system and pressure tested it, i could get coolant to spurt out from that joint. So I suspect it was only leaking under high load (i.e., when driving) and that's why I never got any tell-tale coolant puddles on the garage floor. While it could perhaps be a puncture in the condenser or the AC lines that run behind the radiator, it does not make sense to me if your clutch is not working and the compressor is not pumping. The pressure in the system is then static across the whole AC system and the same when the car is off or running. In other words, you're not building-up pressure so how could there by any hissing noise since the pressure is not really reducing (as it is static to begin with)? But if you decide to recharge and get the clutch to engage again (meaning compressor is pumping), and hear this hissing noise in that area again you could suspect a puncture in the condenser or possibly one of the AC lines. But you may want to visually inspect the condenser as it is prune to punctures due to its location. Usually there are tell-tale signs that PAG oil has leaked-out (and of course refrigerant as well) and you can see discolored (kinda whitish) areas on the condenser. If you see such spot or spots, then you can almost be certain that the radiator is the culprit (or one of the culprits).

Too bad about your situation. The world is upside down. I work in an industry that is serving the commercial airline industry (but also the military, which I support) and, as you can imagine, we are hurting a lot when the airlines are not operating. Revenues from spare parts sales and services are plummeting and that's where we make the money to pay the bills and salaries. We've laid-off more than 13,000 people since March...and not sure if they will take further action. So, I feel your pain in watching the good old dollar (I am too). This is a big reason why I try to do most of my own repairs, but I have to admit that I also enjoy it to some degree.
Well Saab95X... I think maybe you know the answer to your demise. I was just cruising along on the forum and came across this post that you posted 28 days ago:
Here you indicate that "the damage to the front-end was minor" and then start asking questions about the condenser. Did your AC problems start after this "damage" that you incurred "to the front end" (you did not explain what happened- did you drive into something in front of you, another car, or?) ". But my guess is that your AC trouble started after this "incident")? Well if that is so, it is a strong possibility that you punctured the condenser or that some of the AC pipes that connect to the receiver drier (lives on the right hand side of the condenser) and the condenser may have been disturbed to the point that you have a leak. Could very well be that hissing sound you were talking about.

For the future, it is very important that you reveal all relevant facts when you post as it would make it a lot easier for the members to try to help you. But it is hard operate in darkness.
No ac long before the accident., caused by a trailor hitch ball whic did not penetrate beyond the grill area. There is no obvious physical damage to the condenser. The guy who put the ac in said the condenser was bent, not being aware that they are concave.

Yesterday I added the dye, leak, sealant product and drove the car for ~ 15 minutes as per directions. When I came back I first checked and R level was zero reading, so I added from the original canister. The gauge was fluctuating between 40 then dropping back think reving the engine then letting off the gas, then reving again. I repeated the refill 3 times but each time the gauge reacted the same. I then emailed AC PRO, but haven't heard back, but suspect the next step is to take it to professionals

Thanks again
 
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