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Old 04-02-2013, 07:55 PM   #1
blackturbohatch46
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AC explosion

Last summer on a road trip I heard a light pop and a lot of fog roll out from under my hood. AC still works, just isnt cold. Obviously a suspected refrigerant leak, but where should i start? I searched the AC how to and didnt see much help. Anyone have any suggestions before i take it in? Id rather do it myself.


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Old 04-02-2013, 09:08 PM   #2
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It could be your compressor or condensor.

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Old 04-02-2013, 09:54 PM   #3
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Any Tell tell signs I should look for? i looked in the condenser area as well as i could and didnt see any cracks or lines busted. I dont know much of ac systems.
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:28 PM   #4
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You might need to put a can of refrigerant in to find the leak. "Low Pressure Port" that you use to do this is by the drier behind the right wheel well splash guard. UV dye can be added this way if the leak is not obvious.

Whynot's write up in the 'stickies" is quite exhaustive on repairs, and how to do it so the repair lasts longer then a month or two.

Luck!
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:40 AM   #5
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You should be able to see the AC oil if it came out that quick.........

Sort of looks like anti-freeze.
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:23 AM   #6
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If anything let go due to pressure it's probably on the high pressure side of the system, there are distinct high and low(er) pressure sides of the systems and without getting more in depth than I can fully explain, that's basically how it creates cooler than ambient air.

Here's a diagram that might help with the fundamentals and maybe help you locate any items on the high pressure side.


This refreshed my memory but it kind of doesn't matter, if anything in the AC system got a massive leak you now have air and moisture (due to humidity) in the system, and even if you found the leak you couldn't properly recharge it without putting it into a deep vacuum to pull the air and moisture out to allow for proper recharging and optimal AC operation.

So to fix this yourself you'd need to find the leak (presumably by recharging the system and then searching for the leak, and then repair whatever it is,), then apply vacuum to the system get the air and everything else out (absolutely necessary for it to work right again), and then be able to recharge it while it's suspended in a deep vacuum state so that no air or moisture can get in.

It won't work "factory good" unless you can do all those things. You might be able to save yourself some money if you can locate and repair the leak, but you'd probably still need special tools to disconnect components.

If you're absolutely positive there's a leak in the AC system, I suggest taking it to a reputable shop to get it fixed, they'll have the necessary equipment to fix it right. This really is a case where you absolutely need to have the proper tools to get it back to where it should be. I usually advocate for people fixing things themselves, but you can't really properly fix it without spending a good bit of time learning the fundamentals of operation and spending substantial money on tools to do it right.

I'd also suggest looking for Whynotthinkwhynots thread about AC systems, I've only looked at it once but I know he went into pretty good detail about AC stuff.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:11 AM   #7
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Compressor really shouldn't be working at all if all refrigerant gone, it is supposed to quit below 25 psi in the system. As they say, the cloud means you should've had a mess of oil in there somewhere. That was the time to find your leak. Leaving system open like that means you must change the accumulator/dryer also, it will be dead as a doornail after leaving system open that long.

Like they say, you probably will have to waste a can charging up just to see it all come back out to find leak. If you promise to vacuum down and change the dryer, you can finagle a way to put regular air pressure in there to do same thing, but it will add moisture that you must get back out later.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:24 AM   #8
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I would just let a shop find the issue, unless you know someone with a refrigerant recovery/recharging machine. The problem with any of the "diy AC repair kits" is the use of that stop leak crap. This seriously can clog up that expensive machine... it could put you out a couple thousand if the shop finds out you used the stuff and damaged their machine.

Also as amc said, the accumulator will need to be replaced more than likely. If it is exposed to the open air, the dessicant inside will be useless.

Be prepared though, if your compressor failed you could be looking at several hundred dollars (possibly over $1k) in a system flush, new accumulator, new compressor, new condenser (it will likely be clogged) a new orifice tube (if equipped) and the refrigerant cost.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:18 AM   #9
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First things first:

1) what sort of charge is on the system?
2) Are any of the hoses damaged?

Damaged hoses must be replaced first. If the hoses aren't damaged, then you need to carefully inspect the other parts- like the condenser- to find the leak. Do not use stop leak, but you can use pressurized cans of dye if you think that will help you. Typically you can see damage to the condenser, and other than the hoses that is probably where your leak is. The accumulator is under the passenger headlight, so chances are fairly good that if it popped there- you wouldn't see anything coming from under the hood.

Once you find the leak, replace the offending part, and repair the system. This might cost you more than you think, and you should replace the accumulator if the system has been discharged for a long time. If the system has been running with no charge, then you might have other problems. That is hard to tell at the moment.

I would also be curious to discover why you had this sort of "blow out" in the first place. Let us know what you find, and you might consider replacing the high pressure switch. If the compressor has been turning with no charge, then you will need to replace the low pressure switch. That one should be easy to diagnose- simply unplug the switch and check for continuity between the points. You should have an open circuit there if there is less than 25 psi on the system. If you have less than 25 psi, and continuity between the pins, then the switch is bad.
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