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Brad
Brad, ASE Certified Technician
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I have a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. An a/c performance ...

Customer Question

I have a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. An a/c performance check showed the coldest the air through the vents is when the a/c is on is 45f. The mechanic said there are no leaks and the r134 is topped up. He said the diagnostic test indicated not reaching max pressure but no way of knowing at this time. Injected a dye and I am supposed to follow up in about 2 weeks. This car has only 16k on it. Also a little whining sound coming from the compressor which was told is not likely the problem. Any idea what the problem might be?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
HelloCustomer and welcome to JustAnswer.com!

When these compressors start to make noise, it's usually an indication that they are on their way out. They are unable to produce enough pressure to make the A/C system work real well.

You'll also want to replace the oriface tube, dryer, and completely flush the rest of the A/C system out while the compressor is removed.

With that being said, 45 degrees Fahrenheit is a perfectly acceptable temperature. I'm surprised it's not properly cooling off the cabin...
Brad, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 2365
Experience: ASE Certified Master Technician
Brad and 20 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Should correct one thing. The car is a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire, same specs. Force of habit since I had a 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier.

The mechanic said the compressor is not likely the problem but more likely there is some possible blockage within the a/c system, however just a guess at this point I was told. He wishes to reserve comment until he checks the results of injecting the dye in the system in about 2 weeks. He said the compressor is to new to be considered the problem with only 16,000 miles on the car. Although there is a whining sound from the compressor it is a very soft sound and was told even with this sound the compressor is probably working at peak efficiency. I was also told the sound could be bearings inside the compressor. As well was told the temperature of the air should be around 40f. I agree 45f is ok for now but during hot humid days in July and August I could have and was told I will have a problem cooling off the cabin.

Have had the car only since last November but noticed the first warm day this Spring the a/c was not as cold as my 1994 Cavalier where the temperature of the air was tested between 39 and 40f as recently as last summer and this compressor whined even louder as well as rattled a bit. This car also used r134a.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Well the dye test will only reveal any leaks in the system. Why he would expect any dye test results is beyond me, being he already told you it wasn't low on refrigerant.

The compressor noise you're talking about may just be normal noise. You are correct in the fact that you don't want to condemn a very expensive A/C part unless you can prove that it is bad.

You also mentioned that he stated that it wasn't reaching maximum pressure. This, accompanied with compressor noise usually equates to pending compressor failure.

The whole key to diagnosing what is going bad in an A/C system is the system pressures. The professional A/C gauge sets have two gauges.. one for the 'low pressure' side of the system and the other for the 'high pressure' side of the system.

Now these pressures are going to vary based on ambient air temperature, interior air temperature, and humidity. Typically on a mildly warm day (80-85 degrees), you want to see about 200-225 PSI on the high side, and 25-30 PSI on the low side. On a hotter day, the pressures are going to be higher and on a colder day they will be lower. These pressures aren't an exact science as every car has it's own 'sweet spot' where the A/C works most efficiently (For example, my old Crown Victoria after I converted it for R134a liked a very high pressure... almost 400 PSI... for it to work correctly.. and at that pressure it blew 35f out the vents on a 100f day... but keep in mind this was a conversion on a system originally designed for R12).

Also the pressures should vary little, if any, at higher engine RPMs. If you see the high side spike and the low side drop when you rev up the engine, this is usually an indication of a restriction of the system. If you see a lower High side pressure and a lower Low side pressure, this is an indication of a low charge condition. A low high side pressure and a high low side pressure usually indicates a failed or failing compressor.

You also have to keep in mind the A/C system on the 2003 is designed to use less energy than the system on the 1997, and therefore probably isn't going to perform as well as a result.

Personally I believe that 45f out the vents is perfectly acceptable for a later model A/C system, and I wouldn't be too quick to spend a lot of time diagnosing a potential problem here. I can tell you though, the best time to diagnose a 'borderline' functioning A/C is on the hottest day of the year. This is when the problem tends to rear its ugly head (and unfortunately the most inconvenient time for this to happen).

If you can provide me with some test results (pressures, etc), I might be able to be of more help to you. Good luck!
Brad, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 2365
Experience: ASE Certified Master Technician
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you Brad.

I agree with you regarding the dye test. I said the same thing to the mechanic but I think they are just hoping to get lucky. As with most problems, if the symptoms are obvious or strong it is easier to find the problem. When they are not the problem can be difficult to find.

I have a small wall thermometer which I used to test the air coming from the vents in early April during a warm spell. It was the same temperature as now. If there is a leak one would think there would be some difference over a two month period.

It was noted to me the high pressure side was not at its peak. I am going to get the numbers and pass them on to you. At that point I will probably ask you for the most logical next step if there is one then close out our correspondence.

I realize cars have different a/c systems with different capacities. A friend of mine has a 2004 Mazda 3 and I know at its best his a/c is not as good as mine at 80-90% although it is a better car.

I only spent $50 on the a/c check but what I didn't understand is how they could add a little r134 for another $5 if they said it did not need any more refrigerant and there did not appear to be a leak. Is there always room for a little extra? The one thing I have found over the years is that a/c systems are one of the most difficult if not the most difficult area of the car to diagnose because you are dealing with a gas.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Yeah let me know on those pressures.

And yes you can always add more refrigerant. Once you start overcharging the system, performance starts to decrease.. perhaps they added a bit too much...

The best way to do it is to use recovery equipment that measures in weight how much refrigerant is 'sucked out' of the vehicle. Comparing that to the capacity specification will tell you if it's over or under charged.

Next you pull the system onto full vacuum. I usually let it sit for a good 15-20 minutes, this way if it holds vacuum the entire time this proves there are no MAJOR leaks in the system. (If it holds vacuum for several hours there's a really good chance there are no leaks in the system).

Then you can recharge the system with the proper amount of refrigerant.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The high pressure I was just told was 110 psi. Since ideally it should be 200-225 is it not strange the temperature of the air is still as cold as it is around 45, 43 with the small thermometer I have. Should it even be this cold?

If you were aware of only a pressure of 110 psi what approximate temperature would you expect if I did not tell you the temperature of the air?

Can you tell me where in the system this pressure is measured or at least what it represents. For example the pressure by the compressor or movement of the air through the a/c system, meaning a partial blockage is possible somewhere?

I am starting to wonder whether this mechanic knows what he is doing. Is there any reson to believe so far they are not sure what they are doing? If so I will have someone else look at it.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.

110 PSI should only equate to a very small temperature drop from the ambient temperature.

 

I have a feeling that either his pressure check was done without the A/C being turned on, or that his pressure gauge is malfunctioning (or your temperature gauge is bad, but you'd be able to tell if it wasn't hardly cold at all).

 

The high pressure port (where this measurement is taken) lies between the compressor and the oriface tube... Once the refrigerant passes through the oriface tube, it is 'sprayed' into the evaporator, kind of like a garden hose sprayer attachment. This decreases the temperature of the refrigerant, which makes the evaporator very cold.

 

Then the blower motor blows air through this cold evaporator, thus making the air cold out of the vents.

 

I would strongly recommend having another mechanic look at it, for a second opinion. I'll try to dig up some diagrams for you, and get back to you.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you Brad.

I will have the mechanic or at least the same garage that did the once over on the car when I bought it last fall look at it.

Everything this mechanic has said makes little or no sense, from the leak check on. I am questioning the competence of the mechanic because they removed the screws and bolts from the hard plastic cover that sits at the front of the engine bay apparently to inject the dye but forgot to put them back.

Not that this is catastrophic but makes me wonder how focused he was when he performed the performace check.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Here.. I found this chart that compares outside temperature and humidity to A/C pressures and temperatures. Apparently, GM says that 61f temperature out of the vent is acceptible on an 85f day!

graphic
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I don't see how 61f air can cool off any cabin on an 85 degree day but that is my opinion.

That said, the day the a/c performance test was done it was about 66f and cloudy so a high pressure reading of 110psi appears pretty close for that temperature based on this chart, do you agree? To get a reading of over 200 which the mechanic said I should get it would have had to be much warmer, would it not?

It therefore appears the technician may be able to come up with the readings but not know how to interpret them.

Correct me if I am wrong but the high pressure psi reading would be dictated by the outside temperature and how hard the a/c system has to work to cool the air. It does not have to work hard when it is 66f so the high pressure psi should be a lower number. If it were checked on a 90 degree day the high pressure psi would be a higher number if the a/c system is working properly.

If I am right then the numbers were not interpreted correctly.

Am I understanding this, at least to some degree? If I am it means the system may be working exactly the way it should be or do you still recommend another opinion?
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
No, you're right on the money! Cooler temperatures do equate to lower pressures.

110PSI might be a little on the low side, but I was not aware this was on a 65 degree day (our customers typically don't start having A/C work done until the temperatures climb above 80...).

Personally, if it were me, I'd wait until warmer weather hits before making this determination. In the whole scheme of things, A/C performance is really a simple of matter of 'do you or don't you sweat on a 90 degree day?'.


I know I do! It was 93 today, I was stuck in traffic.. and the air conditioner on my Harley Davidson doesn't work so well sitting at a red light...

If nothing else, I would take it to another shop though, just to verify your A/C refrigerant level is correct. Find someone that has electronic A/C recovery equipment. They will basically hook it up, and suck out your freon. The machine will measure how much is recovered from your system and they will compare that to how much it's supposed to hold (in your case 24 oz.. or 1.5 LBS). Then they will put your system under vacuum for about 15 minutes or so (to evaporate any moisture that might be in your system), then recharge it with the correct amount of refrigerant. You shouldn't have to pay for any refrigerant (unless you are low) as this equipment will put back in the same stuff it took out. Also don't let them add any more oil or dye to the system.. if you get too much of this stuff in there, it can hurt performance as well.

Although this question will technically 'close' after 24 hours of inactivity, you'll still be able to open it back up by replying to me (even after weeks or months!) without having to pay for another question. If you feel I've been helpful, please click on the ACCEPT button.

Afterwards, you can reply if you need any follow-up help on this subject in the future (when the weather gets warmer and you'll really be able to test your system).
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you Brad. I think we have gone as far as we can. I learn fast as you can see and have found over the years just because someone is a licenced mechanic is does not mean they are good. Wish I could take my car to you but that would be a long trip.

I am in Toronto and we had a brief warm spell into the low 80's a little while back which is when I noticed the air was not as cold as I thought it should be. The reason I want it working properly is because I am asthmatic and if the cabin is stuffy because the a/c is not working properly it can cause some problems. The temperature is going to be close to 90 over the next few days so this will be a good test.

That was a good one......you're Harley's a/c not working properly.

By the way my name isXXXXX you again for your help and I will get back to you once I have had a better chance to test the system.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Ahh.. Toronto... I'm in St. Louis Missouri here. We've got an unusual warm spell for this time of the year, but it'll pass. We're known for having the heater on in the morning, and the A/C on in the afternoon!

Anyways.. see how it works once the weather gets hot, and feel free to report back to me!

And I know what you mean about mechanics. I worked for a Ford dealer awhile back for almost two years, and I felt a little 'inadequate' in skill for a dealership tech back then, but about two weeks into my employment, I found myself getting jobs because the 'Ford Certified' guys either messed them up or couldn't figure out the problem! I was a little 'put off' by the fact that I was the first one laid off during a slow spell... (that's the last time I ever work somewhere under a Union contract).

Nice to meet you Don.. I'll be chatting with you later.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
A close friend of mine has a cousin who lives in St. Louis and I used to work for a company who's head office was in St. Louis.

Thanks again and take care
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Brad,

You said to contact you when it became warm which it was on Friday.It was 90 and very humid. Based on my thermometer the air coming from the vents was 43-44f.

Did a better job than I expected because of the strong fan but still not as cold as my other car. Is it possible this is normal for this car. It is the high pressure psi number that suggests not.

Any comment?
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Hi again!

I honestly think this is as good as it's going to get! Even 50f is a fantastic vent temperature on a 90f day, and you're doing much better than that!

I'm guessing your other car is the '94 Cavalier? Like I said before, these newer cars are designed for better economy, and as a result the A/C systems simply do not work like they used to!

It's also possible the '94 is an R12 system, whereas the '03 Sunfire is R134a (which is not as effective as R12, but more environmentally friendly).

You could have the pressures rechecked now that the weather is warmer, but in all honesty, I wouldn't expect it to get any better.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks Brad.

The 94 Cavalier was also r134a as cars in Canada were required to have this refrigerant a couple of years before. I had an 85 Chevrolet prior to that with freon. Maybe I am comparing apples and oranges

In your opinion did the mechanic possibly not get a proper reading of the high pressure psi or at least misinterpret the reading?

I just do not want to be looking for a problem that may not be there but this mechanic has already suggested a problem and pointed to both the compressor's soft whinig and the low reading on the high pressure psi as possible reasons for the a/c not working at 100% but never says he is certain of anything.

I figure if a performance test is done and any car owner is told the system is not working at peak efficiency the mechanic should be able to tell you why? Just as when a doctor says you have high blood pressure he tells what must be done to remedy the problem and the likely reasons for the high blood pressure but does not make it into a major mystery. Being told something is not right but unable to tell you why is of very little help. a/c systems are hardly new technology.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
I feel your mechanic may have been 'exaggerating' the results a bit. Yes the pressure seems a bit low, but when I said that I also didn't realize this was on a cooler day. According to the chart, 110psi (albeit on the low end of the scale) is acceptible for the conditions at that time.

It'd be like a doctor prescribing medication for high blood pressure, when your blood pressure is at the very high end of the 'normal' scale. It points to a 'potential' problem, but not necessarily an actual problem.

Now that the temperatures are higher, according to GM's specifications, your A/C system is performing MUCH better than designed as it is. Yes it might be possible to get it down even a little bit cooler, but only after purchasing a new compressor, accumulator/dryer, oriface tube, etc.. etc... How much money are you willing to spend to get it four degrees cooler?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I agree. Think I will put this one to bed. It is mechanics like this one who send you off in the wrong direction.

Thanks again.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Yes I agree. Sometimes they are so busy trying to get that 'potential sale' that they fail to see the realistic side of things.

Personally, I would rather take a bit of a hit on profit to create loyal, repeat customers.

It's hard to do that when they leave feeling like they've been ripped off, or confused...
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
They actually have a great reputation for being honest.

In fact they do not want to pursue it because they do not want me to spend money on something that may be speculation.

I just feel they have messed up on this because they should be able to provide a concrete answer. Telling me the system is not functioning as well as it should is just confirming what I told them. I paid them to tell me why?

Just out of curiousity, what do you charge for an a/c performance check and does it include the reason if the system is not performaing properly or is that extra because other tests are required?
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
We charge $49.95 plus refrigerant (if needed). An additional $15 for flourescent dye if a leak is suspected, and of course any parts and labor that is required for a repair (American Dollars, of course).

You still have to realize though. Again, your A/C is performing well (per the temperature measurement at the vents). The pressure reading points to a possible 'borderline' condition. This makes it very difficult to say for certain anything specific is wrong.

Now, if you were blowing 80f out of the vents, and your high side pressure was only 90PSI on a 90f day, and your low side pressure was 70PSI, then I could say with confidence that your compressor wasn't working properly.

If your high side was 400PSI, and your low side was 10PSI, then I could say with confidence that you have a restriction in your system (most likely at the oriface tube).

If your high side was 400PSI and your low side was 100PSI, then I'd say you have a poor performing condenser, possibly due to a bad cooling fan, or due to the condenser's fins being crushed flat (or packed with dirt).

The more the system is malfunctioning, the easier it is to diagnose. Technically yours is still within specification (even if barely), and that makes it very, very difficult to assess the actual problem (if any), without the large expense of tearing everything apart to physically inspect it all.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Will leave it for now. Another potential factor for the difference in temperature between this car and my old Cavalier is the Cavalier had a slower low fan speed which could account partially for the temperature difference when tested at the lowest speed.

Until there is something significantly wrong I will leave it.

Thanks again.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Yeah.. let it go and see.

Also you'll find that if you reduce the blower speed on your sunfire, the temperature will go down as well.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The temperature I am basing it on is the lowest fan speed on recirculation mode. Highest fan speed is 52-54. The lowest fan speed was a slower speed on the Cavalier and was 39-40f, but that might have been a different a/c system even though it had r134a.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The mechanic is now(Wednesday) telling me the compressor is the problem and it should be replaced.

Today (Thursday) had the opportunity to test the air temp on another Sunfire, a 2004. Air temp was about 39 and of course mine is around 44. Same fan speed on recirculation mode.

As well today the mechanic told me they will check the dye on Friday and if there is no leak will then check the expansion valve and replace it if necessary. If this does not fix the problem they said the next step would be the compressor but they do not want to use a refurbished one if it comes to that. Said at one time reconditioned compressors were ok but not anymore. They said first the expansion valve because it is cheaper but no guarantee it will resolve the problem.

Do you agree with these steps and their comments as well as not using a refurbished compressor if that becomes necessary?

Thanks
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Refurbished compressors have a bad reputation, as they are 'hit and miss'. Only the parts that were bad get replaced, and all of the other compressor parts are reused. As a result, you never really know how long it's going to last. You might luck out and get a good one, then again you might not. I've used them on a few occasions and haven't had any problems, but I've heard plenty of horror stories...

The expansion valve works like a garden hose sprayer. There is a small screen and then a very small nozzle that sprays the refrigerant into the line for the evaporator. If the screen or nozzle is clogged, this can result in poor performance.

OK.. we're looking at a five degree difference here. I still feel that 44 degrees is very acceptible for an automotive air conditioning system with R134A refrigerant. I'm not going to disagree with you about there being room for improvement. The real question is how much money are you willing to spend? Air conditioning repairs are very expensive (I'm sure they've had to given you some kind of estimate by now), and personally I could find much more important things to spend that money on, but that's a judgement call on your part.

If you want to spend the money you need to do the following:

-Replace the Compressor
-Replace the Expansion Valve (Oriface Tube)
-Replace the Accumulator/Drier
-Have all of the Lines removed and flushed out, then reinstalled with all new O-Rings
-While all of the Lines are off, flush out the Evaporator and the Condenser
-When everything is reassembled, make sure the correct amount of oil in installed in the system, and then pull vacuum on the system for at least half an hour, before charging it up. The vacuum lowers the boiling point of water, and literally allows any moisture in the system to boil out of the system at room temperature.

They make a special chemical designed specifically to flush out Air Conditioning parts. This chemical is quite expensive, but not very much of it is needed (the whole system can be flushed using about a Liter). Your mechanic should be familiar with this.

If there is any junk left over in the system, it can cause damage to the new Compressor, and plug up the new Expansion Valve, therefore it is always critical that a complete and thorough flush be performed any time major A/C parts are replaced.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks Brad,

I just added another $17 because I appreciate all the time you have given me and it is still not quite over.

I now have a complete update and am surprised not to mention furious at what the garage did. I really need your opinion and will do my best to explain in detail everything I was told. Based on what I was told I feel they did not do the right thing at all. I apologize in advance for the length but do not want to leave anything out.

On Friday when I returned to the garage for the dye test results they took it upon themselves without my authorization to look further into the problem. They found the orifice tube had debris on it from the compressor so they replaced the orifice tube however they said there is a tiny leak in the compressor and that the compressor is the major problem and that the condenser is "not so great either". As a result they already had an estimate prepared for replacing the compressor, condenser and accumulator plus other misc charges i.e. refrigerant oil, sealing washers, refrigerant etc... about $1,500. Probably more in Canada than the U.S. Apparently the evaporator is fine.

I was told before I dropped the car off they were only going to provide me with the results of the dye test because when they injected the dye two weeks ago they said there would be no additional cost for the results and as well they would have no time for anything else that day anyway. I now know why they needed the extra time. Based on this I naturally assumed I would be advised of any further work if required including estimates that I would have to authorize. I left the car with them and called after an hour as I was told I could but was told they needed an additional hour however mentioned nothing outside of what was previously discussed regarding the dye test results. All I was told was they would discuss the issue with me when I return to pick up the car. When I did return I found they took it upon themselves to replace the orifice tube for $250, two-thirds being labor. Once they told me the other components will need replacing and/or repair I could not figure out the purpose in replacing the orifice tube which is mostly labour and will have to be replaced again anyway if I decide or am forced to do the major work? The orifice tube replacement has made no difference. They should have told me what they were going to do before they did the job. If they had told me prior to the work that the compressor was the major problem I never would have authorized the replacement of the orifice tube because the cost of replacing it as part of a major job would not come close to $250. The part was only $15 plus the seal. The job also required adding 1.5 pounds of r134 and cost me $49.

Do you agree with me and as well what is your opinion of what the garage did? In other words, given everything I have stated would you have replaced the orifice tube? I used your information from Thursday and the conclusion I came to after the garage's work was that it is pointless to replace the orifice tube if other components are the major problem unless the orifice tube is so ineffective there is no choice and as I stated there is no noticeable difference as the vent temperature is the same as before. Based on this it is my opinion the orifice tube probably should have been left alone and was probably still functioning at an acceptable level. I am not a mechanic but have tried looking at this logically.

Is the debris found in the orifice tube an indication the compressor is just about done or could it still go for a while? If it is on its last leg then that justifies even less the garage's decision to replace the orifice tube. I just do not see the logic behind what they did because the a/c system did not improve one bit. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is they took it upon themselves to check and replace the orifice tube at my expense without authorization. I will be speaking with the owner on Monday and he is the one who made the decision, but would like your input prior to doing so.

Just as proof, the following is word for word what the invoice reads.
"compressor debris found in orifice tube, will require to replace compressor, accumulator, flush or replace condenser".
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
OK.. first I want to apologize. I've been away from the computer (spending time with my Father who is going to be in the hospital for the next couple weeks... fortunately it's nothing life threatening, just a lot of pain on his part).

Anyways... you are pretty much correct as far as being logical about this, with a couple of exceptions.

First off, labor on the Oriface Tube is only 0.4 hours, so multiply this by their labor rate and make sure they aren't overcharging you on the labor.

What really bugs me is that they charged you for refrigerant. Here in the US (and I'm pretty sure Canada too) it is illegal to allow it to vent to atmosphere, which requires us to use a recovery/recycling maching which sucks out the old refrigerant, filters it out, and reinstalls the same refrigerant. As a result, we only charge for refrigerant if the system was low in the first place (I can guarantee you weren't 1.5 pounds low, or the A/C wouldn't have been functioning at all).

As far as debris on the tube.. well the screen at the entrance of the tube acts as a debris filter, so the narrow passageway (not much bigger than a hypodermic needle) doesn't get plugged up. There is debris on every vehicle on the road. Normal debris is very small and looks more like gunk than debris. If you actually see metal distinguishable metal shavings on the screen, then this could point towards Compressor wear.

This part does NOT need to be replaced any time the A/C is worked on, but it's generally good practice to do so, especially if it is part of an A/C Line Assembly (if it's replaceable separately sometimes you can simply clean the screen off).

Keep in mind that the compressor pulley can spin separately from the compressor itself, so if the compressor decides to lock up (you'll feel the A/C get warm and probably hear a loud belt squeal) all you simply have to do is switch off the A/C, and there won't be any damage to your vehicle, however most likely you'll feel the A/C get warm before the compressor gets to that point.

Basically, you're not going to break down or get stranded because of this failure, but if you want to make sure it doesn't happen, you'll need to replace the compressor.

As far as your condenser goes, it's nearly impossible to judge it's condition based on external appearance. You'd have to have some severe corrosion, obvious leaks, or missing cooling fins to warrant replacing it, unless it's restricted internally but a flush will reveal if that's the case or not.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Brad,

I hope your Dad is doing well.

I have amended this because some things have changed. The one thing that does not change is the fact I did not authorize the most recent work.

Took another look at the invoice. Now I see the unexpected high amount resulted from an unauthorized a/c system leak and performance check for $120 which added to the $40 for the orifice tube replacement is $160. I think their labour rate is $90-100/hour range. I was not looking for any other work on the invoice because when I picked up my car this check was not even mentioned, just the orifice tube replacement. I thought these were just comments but it appears as if this is the test where they supposedly found the small compressor leak, is that correct, or should the dye test have provided the answer?

I thought the dye test was supposed to show where the leak is, at least this is what I was told. They told me the compressor has a very small leak but there is nothing stated on the invoice and I thought the law requires them to document the leak and tag the car, no matter how small the leak may be. According to our law if a leak is detected and the shop knows where it is they cannot just recharge the system which is what they appeared to do. They must fix the leak first. There are some major contradictions here and I have had enough of dealing with them but don't know if they really discovered a leak or just told me that. Nothing they have done or said has any consistency.

Here is the invoice word for word:
A/C SYSTEM LEAK & PERFORMANCE TEST: DRAIN EVACUATE & RECHARGE SYSTEM * HIGH PRESSURE 150 LBS, LOW SIDE 30 LBS. DUCT TEMPERATURE 49F @ IDLE, 47.6F @ 1500 RPM & SLIGHT NOISE FROM COMPRESSOR. COMPRESSOR DEBRIS FOUND ON ORIFICE TUBE, WILL REQUIRE TO REPLACE COMPRESSOR, ACCUMULATOR, FLUSH OR REPLACE CONDENSER.

Parts as follows:
orifice tube - $15
o ring seal - $2.95
24 ounces r134a - $49.40

Federal and Provincial tax adds another 13% bringing it to a total of $256.91
Why was 24 ounces of r134a required?

Now, the invoice from more than 2 weeks ago when the dye was injected reads as follows.

AC SYSTEM LEAK & PERFORMANCE TEST: NO LEAK DETECTED, INJECT A/C DYE LEAK DETECTOR INTO SYSTEM, DUCT TEMPERATURE 46F, HI SIDE PRESSURE LOW, RETURN AT LATER DATE TO RECHECK.......$51.00
Plus the dye and tax it came to $64.56.

As I stated the recheck follow up was to be at no additional charge as it was supposed to be to get the dye test results.

I am a member of an automobile consumer organization that go to bat for people who run into problems and this garage is actually on their recommended list. The president of the organization was surprised, called the garage owner who he has known for 20 years, got a different story and accepted it. I will still be refunded $200 of the $256 total bill. Gave the owner the benefit of the doubt he was not totally aware of what his assistant told me so I will pay for the parts.

Aside from not telling me what they were going to do, were they taking the right approach? Two a/c performance and leak checks but looking for different things?

Still I do not trust them and am now even more suspicious of them considering they charged me almost $49 for a standard oil and filter change this past March. They added $6 for checking all fluid levels which I have been doing myself for many years and said they used a superior filter. Up to then $40 is the most I have ever paid and GM dealers are less than that. I feel they gouge customers when they see an opportunity then willingly refund money if it is challenged so as to give the impression they are honest and treat customers fairly. Hard to believe they have been rated amongst the most honest auto repair shops in Toronto the past several years.

If I wish to improve the a/c performance what would the single next step be, considering the cost factor and what any garage would have to do in order to do it properly? For example if the compressor needed replacing what else must be done?

My sister has a 2000 Dodge Caravan with almost 200k where my car has 25k. Her a/c was worse than mine and for $120 a leak was detected, fixed, then topped with r134a and is now colder than my car. I realize her problem may have been more obvious therefore easier to detect. I would use the mechanic my sister uses but she lives 90 minutes from Toronto and uses a local mechanic. She was not bounced all over the place the way I was.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hello Brad,

Below are my last questions from June 16, 9:30 pm. I have copied them into this window.

Thanks

Don
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have amended this because some things have changed. The one thing that does not change is the fact I did not authorize the most recent work.

Took another look at the invoice. Now I see the unexpected high amount resulted from an unauthorized a/c system leak and performance check for $120 which added to the $40 for the orifice tube replacement is $160. I think their labour rate is $90-100/hour range. I was not looking for any other work on the invoice because when I picked up my car this check was not even mentioned, just the orifice tube replacement. I thought these were just comments but it appears as if this is the test where they supposedly found the small compressor leak, is that correct, or should the dye test have provided the answer?

I thought the dye test was supposed to show where the leak is, at least this is what I was told. They told me the compressor has a very small leak but there is nothing stated on the invoice and I thought the law requires them to document the leak and tag the car, no matter how small the leak may be. According to our law if a leak is detected and the shop knows where it is they cannot just recharge the system which is what they appeared to do. They must fix the leak first. There are some major contradictions here and I have had enough of dealing with them but don't know if they really discovered a leak or just told me that. Nothing they have done or said has any consistency.

Here is the invoice word for word:
A/C SYSTEM LEAK & PERFORMANCE TEST: DRAIN EVACUATE & RECHARGE SYSTEM * HIGH PRESSURE 150 LBS, LOW SIDE 30 LBS. DUCT TEMPERATURE 49F @ IDLE, 47.6F @ 1500 RPM & SLIGHT NOISE FROM COMPRESSOR. COMPRESSOR DEBRIS FOUND ON ORIFICE TUBE, WILL REQUIRE TO REPLACE COMPRESSOR, ACCUMULATOR, FLUSH OR REPLACE CONDENSER.

Parts as follows:
orifice tube - $15
o ring seal - $2.95
24 ounces r134a - $49.40

Federal and Provincial tax adds another 13% bringing it to a total of $256.91
Why was 24 ounces of r134a required?

Now, the invoice from more than 2 weeks ago when the dye was injected reads as follows.

AC SYSTEM LEAK & PERFORMANCE TEST: NO LEAK DETECTED, INJECT A/C DYE LEAK DETECTOR INTO SYSTEM, DUCT TEMPERATURE 46F, HI SIDE PRESSURE LOW, RETURN AT LATER DATE TO RECHECK.......$51.00
Plus the dye and tax it came to $64.56.

As I stated the recheck follow up was to be at no additional charge as it was supposed to be to get the dye test results.

I am a member of an automobile consumer organization that go to bat for people who run into problems and this garage is actually on their recommended list. The president of the organization was surprised, called the garage owner who he has known for 20 years, got a different story and accepted it. I will still be refunded $200 of the $256 total bill. Gave the owner the benefit of the doubt he was not totally aware of what his assistant told me so I will pay for the parts.

Aside from not telling me what they were going to do, were they taking the right approach? Two a/c performance and leak checks but looking for different things?

Still I do not trust them and am now even more suspicious of them considering they charged me almost $49 for a standard oil and filter change this past March. They added $6 for checking all fluid levels which I have been doing myself for many years and said they used a superior filter. Up to then $40 is the most I have ever paid and GM dealers are less than that. I feel they gouge customers when they see an opportunity then willingly refund money if it is challenged so as to give the impression they are honest and treat customers fairly. Hard to believe they have been rated amongst the most honest auto repair shops in Toronto the past several years.

If I wish to improve the a/c performance what would the single next step be, considering the cost factor and what any garage would have to do in order to do it properly? For example if the compressor needed replacing what else must be done?

My sister has a 2000 Dodge Caravan with almost 200k where my car has 25k. Her a/c was worse than mine and for $120 a leak was detected, fixed, then topped with r134a and is now colder than my car. I realize her problem may have been more obvious therefore easier to detect. I would use the mechanic my sister uses but she lives 90 minutes from Toronto and uses a local mechanic. She was not bounced all over the place the way I was.
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