Question about 1999 Saab 9-5

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2003 9-5 with an air conditioning leak into the cabin filter. New compressor was installed and a leak-down test shows dye in the cabin filter. The evaporator and lines seem dry but one of the lines from the expansion valve is stained and wet. Is it possible the valve is causing the leak or is it more likely to be a line problem? Mechanics time and expense to replace the evaporator and lines on spec is prohibitive. George

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  • george_lesli Sep 09, 2010

    Thanks for your response. The referenced pictures are from a 1999 SAAB and I see the evaporator in the engine bay; much easier to access. My car is a 2003 9-5 Aero with the evaporator inside the cabin.

    I do not understand the last comment "Could isn't the valve, then the o-ring in there ..."

    Does it mean the problem is probably not the valve, but 1 or some of the O-Rings in the valve??

    The expansion valve on mine is in the middle of the firewall. The entire system has been pressure tested and the only area showing the dye is on the cabin filter and a little on the first bend of the line from the inside of the firewall inside the cabin, inside the box with the cabin filter and evaporator.

    Since the evaporator and lines have no joints up to the back of the expansion valve, can I have the mechanic remove the expansion valve and replace the o-rings at the back and the front of a new expansion valve or the existing valve.

  • george_lesli Sep 09, 2010

    The dye test was done and shows stains and fluid on the cabin filter. That is how we know there was dye in the cabin filter box. The shop is not able to confirm where the leak is located however. The lines to the evaporator from the expansion valve have no connectors in between. Can we change the O-Rings in the expansion box from the engine bay?

  • george_lesli Sep 09, 2010

    The shop working on the problem specializes in AC but have never repaired a SAAB before.

    They located the leak to be somewhere around the expansion valve and inside the cabin of the car by pressurizing the system with nitrogen to 250 psi and some dye. It drops pressure by 20 psi in 5 minutes and seems to spray dye into the cabin filter box under the dash.

    Can the shop get at all the O-rings in the valve by removing the valve? If so, I will have them pull out the valve and replace the O-rings in the front and back of the valve as a next step.

    The instruction we have located so far indicates the pipes to the evaporator have to be cut and the evaporator removed to do this.

    That means buying a new evaporator, lines and expansion valve, an expensive solution.

    I was hoping there was a way to replace the O-rings without stipping the dash out of the car and destroying the existing lines and evaporator.

  • george_lesli Sep 09, 2010

    Thanks for the help and clarification. I will let you know how successful we are with the procedure.



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  • Saab Master
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Here is what must be done to track down this leak, have AC dye put in the system, run the car a week or so then have an AC shop use a black light to see the green dye, it glows anywhere there is a leak, have been repairing automotive AC for 40 years and this is the best way to do this, make sure all connection are clean before the test is run.

Posted on Sep 09, 2010

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  • Saab Master
  • 17,970 Answers

The common freon leak spots are the condenser, any O-ring, suction line, the schroeder fill valve, and the high pressure pipe along the right side frame rail. The last one is the most common, because the rubber from the straps that hold it down deteriorates from engine heat, leaving a lovely condition for bimetallic corrosion. Some cars suffer from low pressure aluminum pipe leaks in the pipe beginning at the accumulator that dips down running along the passengers side before turning 90* and crossing above the splash pan (where it becomes a rubber hose) below the front of the engine again becoming an aluminum pipe where it connects to the compressor. The intake pre-heat shield or air intake tube rubs against the aluminum low pressure hose causing it to break through. If your schroeder fill valve is leaking, it is replaceable separately from the pipe.

Could isn't the valve, then any O-ring in there or any bad installation. Check this guide as reference help DIY Air (click the links):
Step 1
- Step 2
- Step 3
- Step 4
- Step 5

Hope help with this.

Posted on Sep 08, 2010

  • ZJ Limited
    ZJ Limited Sep 09, 2010

    If you don't have the right a/c tools for this trade, it will be tough and pure guess work.

    Correct way is to use a D-tek/Inficon R134/R12 leak detector for small
    and hard to reach area leaks and leak detector liquid in spray bottles
    for big leaks.

    If you suspect the expansion valve is leaky, spray some liquid soap
    base detector on suspect fittings and in oil soaked areas and look for
    bubbles. That is if the system still has some refrigerant left to keep it above atmospheric pressure.

    If all the freon has leaked out, you need to pressurize the system to leak test it.

    Most shops will pressurize it with Nitrogen and small amount of Freon R134A to about 200 psi and leak test it.

  • ZJ Limited
    ZJ Limited Sep 09, 2010

    Check this, juts as reference guide, I quote this Expansion valve removal (Michael Rosenfield)

    On the 99-01 9-3, the expansion valve is serviced from below. You will need to remove the plastic panel under the engine, but nothing else. I'd also advise a cold exhaust system! Still uses a 10mm socket on the outer bolt and a 4mm hex key on the other two.

    STEP 1 Drain the the AC system (Depending on the car)
    STEP 2 Remove the wiper arms for the windshield
    STEP 3 Remove the false bulkhead cover
    STEP 4 Remove the windscreen wiper assembly
    STEP 5 Remove the air filter housing and remove the air filter & then remove the housing
    STEP 6 Remove the high and low pressure pipe's blockconnection from the expansion valve remove both pipes. The allen bolts are 4MM
    STEP 7 Be sure to plug the drier holes when removing the lines to avoid contamination
    STEP 8 Remove the expansion valve & Plug the holes. A 10mm bolt holds the flange for the high & low pressure tubes, but once they are moved out of the way, you need an allen wrench to remove TWO MORE bolts holding the expansion valve to the flange that connects it to the tubes coming from the evaporator. Now you can remove the expansion valve.
    STEP 9 Refit in Reverse

    Thanks to Rob for contributing to this FAQ!
    Thanks to Bryan Clayton for contributing to this FAQ!



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Hope this helps; also keep in mind that your feedback is important and I`ll appreciate your time and consideration if you leave some testimonial comment about this answer.

Thank you for using FixYa, have a nice day

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