Toyota Nation Forum banner
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2002 Camry XLE (4 cyl)

Can I buy one of those DIY R-134 freon cans that Walmart sells with a pressure gauge to check / top off freon level?

is that stuff compatible with the Camry's freon?
 
G

·
check the sticker under your hood. if it shows R134A refrigerant than yes you can buy a recharge kit. Know this, no air conditioner ever looses its refrigerant when it's functioning correctly unless there is something wrong like a failed o-ring or punctured condenser. I would suggest if you're having A/C issues to take your car and have it tested by a professional shop.
 

·
Maven
Joined
·
3,070 Posts
a) R134a is not commonly referred to as Freon. Freon in automotive applications is R12.

b) R134a is a compounded product with a mixture of chemicals in specific ratios. Some of the molecules are larger than others in this compound. Hence, if there is any sort of leak, the smaller molecules escape at a higher rate. The remaining gas/liquid has a different ratio and does not exchange heat at the same rate as R134a would in a properly formulated state.

c) Can the cheap kit work? Well, yes, to a point. See b). If you have a leak, no matter how much refrigerant you add back in, it won't work properly until the system has been evacuated, the leak repaired, and recharged.

d) Pressures in an R134a system are critical to proper function and depend upon a number of factors including the ambient air temperature. This is why you don't mess with it without proper training and knowledge.

e) Without having the proper gauges to check high and low side pressures, you are just assuming that the system needs to be charged because it isn't working well. You may be correct. The reason may be found elsewhere as well.

I do my own air conditioners because I am trained, own the equipment, am licensed and certified to handle refrigerants. I warn you to be careful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
62 Posts
yes just use the R-134 from the store. I am certified A/c handler and believe me there is no magical toyota r-134 to be had.
I'd give it one try at recharging and see what happens. The good kind of kit comes with pressure gauges and instructions to prevent you from overfilling. If you overfill it with refrigerant it will not work. Some of these kits come with refrigerant that includes a leak stopper chemical and i think i would give that a try since there's nothing to lose. Like the other fellow said though if this fix doesnt work its time to take it to the shop.

The only maintenance your A/C normally needs is to run it every week or two. No matter the weather, run it. Toyota says 30 seconds is long enough, i think a couple minutes is better. The reason you need to run the air is because there is oil added to the refrigerant that lubes the bearings and seals inside, starve them of oil too long and the compressor may seize up and snap your belt. This happened on my dad's old 1982 Dodge Mirada because he did not run it unless the weather was hot.
 

·
Registered
Celica
Joined
·
303 Posts

·
Maven
Joined
·
3,070 Posts
Honestly, if you can't figure out which one is high pressure and which one is low pressure, you really have no business messing with it. Start by attaching your gauge set to the valves and read the dials.
 

·
イリジウム
Joined
·
13,843 Posts
There are talks about regulating the small cans all over the place here. Calif tried to require all AC work to be done by shops, but that legislation was dropped. But I think it's just a matter of time.

However, half a small Walmart bottle worked great. I thought a "completely sealed" AC system still is allowed to leak 1/2 oz a year??


On the topic of that DIY kit, I've seen those things before. And they sell that to anyone there? For any work that involves refrigerants over here, you can only have it done by someone that is licensed. None of this DIY stuff.
 

·
Maven
Joined
·
3,070 Posts
No leakage is acceptable. A typical automotive system will last well past 6 years before a leak appears. I'm not fond of the state government regulating who can service an air conditioner, but R12 was quite nasty to the environment, and reports are that R134a is nearly as bad. Nobody should be venting these gases to the atmosphere, and nobody should be playing with these materials if they haven't had some training. When someone asks where the valve is to add refrigerant, I worry that perhaps he hasn't received his certificate yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The R134 kit with reusable guage (the brand was quest if I recall) worked great. About $29 with two 14oz cans at advance auto parts. My buddy 2000 corrola was were we used it (took about 3/4 can). The gauge indicated somewhat low (but not empty) before charging and cooling is back up now.

Can't go wrong, the fitting fits only on the low side. The low side has a cap on it which says "L". If one can't figure that out, they should not be opening the hood at all :).
 

·
イリジウム
Joined
·
13,843 Posts
Did a quick search. Actually, the annual leakage rate, according to this EPA study, is 10.7% That's worse than I originally thought. :eek:

The rubber hose is one primary villain here. It's a good read.

Mobile (automotive)

Average annual leakage
10.5% (A.D. Little)
9.2% (Baker)
6.9% (Schwartz)
18.5% (Petitjean)
8.6% (Petitjean)

Average = 10.7%

Full article:
http://www.epa.gov/cppd/Presentations/Repice Bus AC.pdf


No leakage is acceptable. A typical automotive system will last well past 6 years before a leak appears. I'm not fond of the state government regulating who can service an air conditioner, but R12 was quite nasty to the environment, and reports are that R134a is nearly as bad. Nobody should be venting these gases to the atmosphere, and nobody should be playing with these materials if they haven't had some training. When someone asks where the valve is to add refrigerant, I worry that perhaps he hasn't received his certificate yet.
 

·
Toyota | moving forward
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
I've always wondered about those 'recharge kits' - the gen 3.5's AC takes a bit longer to get cold in the past year. However - everything is original and after the air gets cold, it stays cold. Is it wise to perhaps get the rubber hoses replaced (after all, it's been 14 years) and get the system evacuated and recharged? I'm not sure how you maintain an air conditioning system so pardon the n00b questions.
 

·
イリジウム
Joined
·
13,843 Posts
It's going to be hard to tell low refrigerant from other faults. So even adding 6oz from a WalMart kit can be dicey if the system is full. Toyota had a expansion valve total recall around 95, so even today that part may just decide to crap out on you after a few years (leak, stick shut, etc).

In addition to getting cold, the performance needs to be measured as far as how fast it gets cold. At least some cars will flash climate control light if the vent output doesn't cool a certain degree within 1 minute. Couldn't remember if this was in a Caddy or Chrysler.

If you're sure of slow leaks then your state should allow these consumer cans - at least you are not in Wisconsin. I'd just add 1/2 bottle (6 oz). If it doesn't improve then take it into a shop for service at ~$100 a pop. There is only so much an owner can safely do. Just don't keep adding or you might need to replace the whole system. :D A bursted rubber hose can cost you your eyesight in less than a second.

I've always wondered about those 'recharge kits' - the gen 3.5's AC takes a bit longer to get cold in the past year. However - everything is original and after the air gets cold, it stays cold. Is it wise to perhaps get the rubber hoses replaced (after all, it's been 14 years) and get the system evacuated and recharged? I'm not sure how you maintain an air conditioning system so pardon the n00b questions.
 

·
Toyota | moving forward
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Thanks for the information. A local tire/brakes/AC place charges $79.95 for an AC leak test and it includes up to 16oz of R134a. Maybe I'll take it down.

I am still very impressed with the durability of Toyota's AC system. My aunt has a '94 Accord and she is getting ready to repair her AC for the third time. The first two times it was major parts like the compressor/condensor/evaporator but this time I think it's just leaky hoses.
 

·
Maven
Joined
·
3,070 Posts
A good a/c guy can pop the gauges on and know in a couple minutes if the pressures are in the ballpark. If it is just a tad low and you haven't added refrigerant in eons, then adding a few ounces will probably do the job and spending $80 is overkill. If it is way low, then yes, check for leaks.

I would not replace the hoses on a 14 year old system unless you have to. It's just too expensive. You need to replace the hoses, the drier, and then evacuate to a couple atmospheres for an hour or longer before recharging. Time and money. Check the price of the drier and then rethink this.
 

·
Toyota | moving forward
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
A good a/c guy can pop the gauges on and know in a couple minutes if the pressures are in the ballpark. If it is just a tad low and you haven't added refrigerant in eons, then adding a few ounces will probably do the job and spending $80 is overkill. If it is way low, then yes, check for leaks.

I would not replace the hoses on a 14 year old system unless you have to. It's just too expensive. You need to replace the hoses, the drier, and then evacuate to a couple atmospheres for an hour or longer before recharging. Time and money. Check the price of the drier and then rethink this.
Alrighty.. How good are the gauges on those DIY cans? I'll ask my cousin if he has the tools available or knows who does. I have to borrow his OBD-II scanner too.
 

·
Maven
Joined
·
3,070 Posts
I've never seen a can that had a gauge built into it. I've seen cheap kits that have a gauge to attach to it and they are generally calibrated to a green zone or a red zone. If you can tell me what pressures those are, based purely on red or green, you're better than most. That's half the issue. You need to know the high pressure as well as the low pressure. And this all relates to the ambient temperature. This isn't rocket science, but it isn't buy-a-can-at-walmart either. Remember what Clint Eastwood had to say about these things--Well Punk, are you feeling lucky?

Here's a test question for only the guys who think the kit is a great deal: A car's air conditioner is operating. The compressor is engaged. The high pressure measures 235 psi and the low pressure side is measuring -3 psi. What is wrong with the system and how do you fix it? Show how you can troubleshoot and resolve this problem using a single go-no go gauge.
 

·
イリジウム
Joined
·
13,843 Posts
Compressor's lubrication comes from the circulating refrigerant that carries oil. That's why the manual says to periodically use the AC system, even in winters.

When the charge is low, the compressor doesn't get lubrication and craps out on you. If debris gets circulated after that it's a mess.


Thanks for the information. A local tire/brakes/AC place charges $79.95 for an AC leak test and it includes up to 16oz of R134a. Maybe I'll take it down.

I am still very impressed with the durability of Toyota's AC system. My aunt has a '94 Accord and she is getting ready to repair her AC for the third time. The first two times it was major parts like the compressor/condensor/evaporator but this time I think it's just leaky hoses.
 

·
イリジウム
Joined
·
13,843 Posts
Yeah, GDANAHER is right. Given that all normal system leaks, then the most likely cause is low refrigerant instead of a stuck expansion valve or something nasty.

As long as you don't overfill it I agree it would be worth a try. Do you see bubbles in the sight glass?



Alrighty.. How good are the gauges on those DIY cans? I'll ask my cousin if he has the tools available or knows who does. I have to borrow his OBD-II scanner too.
 

·
イリジウム
Joined
·
13,843 Posts
Ummm, spend $80 at a local tire/brakes/AC place? :lol:

Actually, I wouldn't mind adding a few oz, but how do you make sure it's not overcharging? Starting by making sure the sight glass has bubbles :confused:



Here's a test question for only the guys who think the kit is a great deal: A car's air conditioner is operating. The compressor is engaged. The high pressure measures 235 psi and the low pressure side is measuring -3 psi. What is wrong with the system and how do you fix it?
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top