So your a/c is leaking refrigerant as fast as you are putting it in?

rockola1971

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As the title says. You have a leak and you need to find it. First STOP! Dont even think about the leak sealer stuff you can buy or the ridiculous UV Dye. When the UV Dye starts leaking out (assuming the leak is in the engine compartment area) and you are cruising down the road with a/c on and the leak is spewing out the dye, guess what your engine cooling fan(s) are doing? Throwing it all over the place. You will likely never find the leak that way. Sure if you have rear a/c and the leak is back there then your odds just improved with dye. Now for the leak sealer. It is not selective and will plug up your orifice tube, condenser and TXV back at the rear a/c. So dont do it.

The first place you should check is the High and Low side ports. The schrader valves tend to leak eventually. Also when attaching refrigerant manifold gauge hose to the system the connector can get rotated while you are doing your thing and can actually loosen the schrader valves in the ports! So check them with some soapy water! Also takle note that those plastic caps that go on the ports are not there to prevent leaks. They cant. A moderate leak at the ports can easily be determined by just taking the caps off the ports and sticking your finger tip over the top for 10 seconds and then release it. If you hear a loud pressure hiss then you have a leaking Schrader valve. When the system is opened up (evacuated or inadvertently all refrigerant has leaked out) ALWAYS replace schrader valves. They are cheap (insurance).

Next check the fitting connection between the high side and low side ports. Your orifice tube is located in here. Try giving them a slight snug and for the love of god use a backup wrench!

You want to find that leak? FIrst lets use some logic. You have a 2000-2006 vehicle with likely a fair amount of miles on the chassis....and the a/c system, right? Compressor likely original. The seal on the front where the shaft comes out to the clutch is likely the culprit. No easy way to check this. Maybe try some DYE and run a/c for 10mins and see if you locate dye coming out around the front area of the compressor. Also spray soapy water on the hose connection manifold at the rear of the compressor (there are Oring seals under that aluminum manifold). (ADDED) Also when an a/c system develops a leak it will not only leak out refrigerant but also lube oil. So look for lube oil tracks or places where dirt is sticking to the oil. If you are lucky the lube oil leak will leave enough evidence to point you to the leak.

Now the next likely leak is an Oring connection anywhere on the system. Where the hoses attach to the condenser, evaporator(s), Receiver/Drier/Accumulator, etc.

If you have realy bad luck and black clouds follow you everywhere then you could have a leak in the evaporator(s) or condenser itself. If you find one there then toss them and buy a new one and install with new orings. Also you should probably stop buying lottery tickets for awhile because you are bad luck! (lottery savings helps pay for the evaporator/condenser anyway)

If god isnt entertained by your existence or maybe you have karma coming back to you then you have a physically damaged hose or hard line. Alligator could have taken a bite, or line has been rubbing on something for awhile and finally popped a hole, You have really angry cats under the hood with VERY sharp teeth and they dont appreciate you waking them up with an engine start.

Any hard part in the system is subject to physical damage, corrosion, or it was just its time to split a seam or weld. The TXV in the rear, evaporator(s), condenser, Drier are all in this group and even hard lines.

Keep in mind that the system has a low pressure cutoff that prevents the compressor clutch from engaging around 30PSI. So there has to be higher than roughly 30PSI in the system for it to even run at all.

I about had a heart attack recently when I priced R134a 12oz cans at $8.88 locally and the 30lb cylinders at Rural King are now $399 ! The last one I bought around 6 years ago was $79 there.
 
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I've found having a fairly inexpensive sniffer meter available helps a lot when looking for leaks. I purchased one of these when I was looking for the R410a leak on my minisplit

Elitech CPU-1G HVAC Leak Detector Halogen Gas Tester HVAC Refrigerant AC Sniffer R22 R410A R134A https://a.co/d/2MlsSCE
 
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rockola1971

rockola1971

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I've found having a fairly inexpensive sniffer meter available helps a lot when looking for leaks. I purchased one of these when I was looking for the R410a leak on my minisplit

Elitech CPU-1G HVAC Leak Detector Halogen Gas Tester HVAC Refrigerant AC Sniffer R22 R410A R134A https://a.co/d/2MlsSCE
Those type sniffers do work well if you are patient with them and search EVERYWHERE. I have a setup that cost around $400 that I use for detecting leaks in commercial building A/C systems. They will detect a pinhole on an evaporator or condenser and a leaking oring at a hose connection. They are worth the $70 if you cant find the leak with soapy water, sight or sound.
 

JamesLond

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Good write up.

I was checking the refrigerant levels on another car and after removing the gauge set, I got leaking. I totally think
I inadvertently unscrewed the valve core now that I read this.

I replaced the core, but not after a bunch of refrigerant leaked out.

Lost $200 on that mistake....
 
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rockola1971

rockola1971

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Good write up.

I was checking the refrigerant levels on another car and after removing the gauge set, I got leaking. I totally think
I inadvertently unscrewed the valve core now that I read this.

I replaced the core, but not after a bunch of refrigerant leaked out.

Lost $200 on that mistake....
Yep. Done it to myself before which is why as soon as I remove a gauge set from the ports I ALWAYS give the valve cores a slight snug with the valve core tool. Cheap insurance and these clowns must think R134A is becoming R22 for the prices they are wanting for it.
 
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