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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
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Jul 27, 2013 | Cars & Trucks
Jul 10, 2013 | 1997 Pontiac Sunfire
CAUTION The refrigerant used in A/C systems is an extremely cold substance. When exposed to air, it will instantly freeze any surface it comes in contact with, including your eyes. It is imperative to use eye and skin protection when working on A/C systems.
R-12 refrigerant is a chlorofluorocarbon which, when released into the atmosphere, contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. Ozone filters out harmful radiation from the sun. Consult the laws in your area before servicing the air conditioning system. In some states it is illegal to perform repairs involving refrigerant unless the work is done by a certified technician. It is also likely that you will not be able to purchase R-12 without proof that you are properly trained and certified to work on A/C systems.
The refrigerant used in A/C systems is an extremely cold substance. When exposed to air, it will instantly freeze any surface it comes in contact with, including your eyes. Although normally non-toxic, refrigerant gas becomes highly poisonous in the presence of an open flame. One good whiff of the vapor formed by refrigerant can be fatal. Keep all forms of fire (including cigarettes) well clear of the air conditioning system. It has been established that the chemicals in R-12 (used on 1984-1993 models) contribute to the damage occurring in the upper atmosphere. 1994 models use ozone-friendly R-134a refrigerant. Under no circumstances should R-12 be allowed to enter an R-134a system, or vice versa. Never mix parts between the systems as they are not compatible. This includes O-rings and refrigerant oil. Servicing (recovery, evacuation and charging) of the A/C system, should be left to a professional certified mechanic with the proper equipment and related training.
A lot of A/C problems can be avoided by running the air conditioner at least once a week, regardless of the season. Simply let the system run for at least 5 minutes a week (even in the winter), and you'll keep the internal parts lubricated as well as preventing the hoses from hardening.
Checking For A/C Oil Leaks
Refrigerant leaks show up only as oily areas on the various components because the compressor oil is transported around the entire system along with the refrigerant. Look for oily spots on all the hoses and lines (especially on the hose and tube connections). If there are oily deposits, the system may have a leak, and you should have it checked by a qualified mechanic.
Check the A/C Compressor Belt
The compressor drive belt should be checked frequently for tension and condition. Refer to the information in this section on "Belts''.
Keep the A/C Condenser Clear
The condenser is mounted in front of the radiator (and is often mistaken for the radiator). It serves to remove heat from the air conditioning system and to cool the refrigerant. Proper air flow through the condenser is critical to the operation of the system.
Periodically inspect the front of the condenser for bent fins or foreign material (dirt, bugs, leaves, etc.). If any cooling fins are bent, straighten them carefully with needle nose pliers. You can remove any debris with a stiff bristle brush or hose.
REFRIGERANT LEVEL CHECKS
See Figures 1 and 2
Factory installed Toyota air conditioners have a sight glass for checking the refrigerant charge. The sight glass is on top of the receiver/drier which is located in the front of the engine compartment, on the right or left side of the condenser assembly (some models are in front of the condenser/some are located on side of engine compartment).
If your car is equipped with an aftermarket air conditioner, the following system check may not apply. Contact the manufacturer of the unit for instructions on system checks.
Fig. Fig. 2: Oil streaks (A), constant bubbles (B), or foam (C) are indicators that the system is low on refrigerant
See Figure 3
Generally described, this tool is a set of two gauges, a manifold and three hoses. By connecting the proper hoses to the car's system, the gauges can be used to "see'' the air conditioning system at work. Do not use the gauge set as a means for discharging the system.
Fig. Fig. 3: An example of a common manifold gauge set
DISCHARGING, EVACUATING AND CHARGING
Discharging, evacuating and charging the air conditioning system must be performed by a properly trained and certified mechanic in a facility equipped with refrigerant recovery/recycling equipment that meets SAE standards
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