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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everyone,

I am new to the boards. Background story:

I moved from California to Miami for school. I shipped my parent's 1996 Toyota Camry here. As I was dropping the car off to the lot where the truck picks up the cars, I turned on the AC because it was pretty hot at the time. I then notice there was no cold air blowing! I asked my mom if she knew about the problem and she said yes. I asked her why didn't she tell me earlier so I can get it fixed! Anyways, I am in Miami and it's been almost 2 or 3 weeks. I can't stand not having AC in this city. It is so hot and humid. I really want to get the AC fixed but my school schedule is really hectic with a lot of tests and quizzes, and I'm in class most of the day. I have to drive 30-40 mins each way to and back from school. I thought I would be ok not fixing the AC and just rolling my window down but after a few weeks it's unbearable. I wanted to bring the car to a shop to fix it, but that is almost impossible because of my class schedule and not being able to take the bus (the bus is 1 hour + and goes through sketchy areas). I could rent a car but the shop said it might take a couple of days and I don't have money to rent a car and get it fixed. So I want to tackle the problem on my own. I am a decent car guy and I've done a lot of DIY on my own car, oil changes, brake replacements, alternator replacements, exhaust replacement, shock/spring replacements, and a few other jobs. Though the AC system looks like the hardest to work on without the proper tools.

the problem:

as I've stated in the title, the fan blows fine, just the air that comes out is not cold. It doesn't start cold and then gets warm, it just doesn't blow out cold air. I noticed the RPM of the car does rise after I press the AC button (Does that tell me anything).

the solution??
I got my hands on a AC system book for the 1996 Camry. There is a troubleshoot part and I am going to try and follow that to find the problem.

The first step is to check the AC Fuse. I see the location of the fuse/relay boxes, and but I am not 100% sure where the AC fuse is located. There is the Junction Block No. 1 on the left of the steering wheel, relay block in the inside and near the batteries. In the book, it says the Fuse for the A/C is a 1OA fuse at relay block #4 on the passenger right side of the car. How do I check if the fuse is good or not? and where can I buy another fuse if it's not good?

Thank you so much for reading this long post, and I will update as I go, thanks.



update #1: Wow that is a hard place to reach. I got the panel open, and the fuse is sitting in a pretty hard place to reach. I was hoping it was the fuse but it's not. For reference, the Camry comes with a tweezer and extra fuses in the fuse box cover next to the battery. The fuse looked good, the metal connection was in place. Next step...the AC clutch relay.

I'm not sure how to test the relay, do I need a tester thing? what exactly do I need? and how do I test it. There are 4 relays (from my book) , and do I just put the tester between 1-4, 3-5 terminals? What do they mean when it says apply 6+ between terminals 1 and 4, and apply B+ between terminals 1 and 4? Thanks.

update #2, ok google is awesome. I think I need a multimeter, and put the leads to where the manual tells me to. One question is, for the test that needs the positive battery source (12V) i'm assuming, what's the easiest and best way and safest way to provide that source of battery?

update #3: Just realized, if my fans are working fine, can I replace one of the fan relays and put it in the magnetic clutch relay and see if it works?

update #4: Ok tomorrow I am going to replace relay #3 with the magnetic clutch relay and see if that works. From the manual, it looks like the test is the same for those two relays and if htey look identical, I will just switch it. I will also check the sight glass between radiator and bumper to see if there are bubbles after I run the A/C for a few minutes on high. If I see bubbles, or even if I don't, I think i am getting a a/c recharge kit with pressure guage and leak dye. I will report back tomorrow.
 

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30YRTOYOTAPARTSEXPERINCE
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Two important things:
First, before you do anything, is there R134 in the system? Your Mom new about the problem, did she have it checke out?

Second, be careful with those recharge kits. if you use to much pressure, etc you can ruin your system, compressor, or even injur yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hey,

No she didn't have it looked it since living in California we never really needed the AC. Yes the system uses R134a, checked the hood for that, and checked how much I should put int ~30 oz if the system is empty, I will put less, will double check that. Also, thanks for looking out, I will make sure the pressure gauge works first. I read a few people using these kits and then over filling because the gauge was wrong. I wish I had the good manifold gauge but I do not. . Then I also read someone tested the gauge and it's decent enough. I just really hope it's either the relay or lack of refrigerant, if it's the o-rings or valves, or the compressor I will probably have to pay someone to fix that or just not fix it at all. Keeping my fingers crossed. I do have a feeling it's something more than just lack of refrigerant since the car has like 141k miles. A/C systems typically don't last that long do they?

This is the best I can do right now, and it's relative cheap and not so time consuming. I really want to just bring it in a shop but time constraint does not allow me to.
 

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ok man...actually really easy....get a kit form a OReillys....get the one with the TRIGGER handle and a can of freon....I dont know how much it takes but I know my lil tiny 97 cavalier used 2 pounds...so I would guess you will need 2 1lb cans for this....I get some stuff called GLOWcharge....it will show where your leak is if any....DO NOT get a leak repair stuff...it gums up and then gels up and then your whole system is done for most likely

Locate the LOW side of you valves....remove the cap (unscrews)...attach the hose with gauge...start car, put fan on high with AC on recirc max....if the gauge shows zero...your outta freon....charge up by pulling trigger closed (you will need to shake the can ALOT)....you want it between 40 and 50 PSI (I settle for 45 PSI)....and then enjoy your cold AC....keep a eye on it, look for some green looking gooey substance....there will be your leak....most times you have a O-ring that snapped....you can get a O-ring kit rom just about anywhere....you will have to have the whole system dumped to take it apart.....DONT just release into the atmosphere....its very illegal.

its not hard at all

also....I am at 274,xxx on my camry....v6LE....ac will freeze you right out of the car on fan speed 2 and I live in AZ....so VERY hot here
 

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@Mike:

You are aware that A/C compressors will not turn on if the system detects that there is not enough refrigerant/gas in the system? I'm no expert so I don't know if that ties in with your relay troubleshooting. If you do want to recharge it yourself, you will have to force the compressor to turn on, and right off I don't know how to do this on a Toyota. Also, I believe examining the sight glass is not effective if the compressor is not running because the system is not circulating the gas. Once circulating, you should see some bubbles if you have some, but are low on, gas. No bubbles means you have no gas or you have enough.

I am assuming at this point your compressor is not turning on when you activate the A/C on the dash? You didn't say, although you did say the idle increased when you turned it on. Idle should decrease (assuming engine is warmed up) a noticeable amount when the compressor is on and therefore adds more load to the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@Mike:

You are aware that A/C compressors will not turn on if the system detects that there is not enough refrigerant/gas in the system? I'm no expert so I don't know if that ties in with your relay troubleshooting. If you do want to recharge it yourself, you will have to force the compressor to turn on, and right off I don't know how to do this on a Toyota. Also, I believe examining the sight glass is not effective if the compressor is not running because the system is not circulating the gas. Once circulating, you should see some bubbles if you have some, but are low on, gas. No bubbles means you have no gas or you have enough.

I am assuming at this point your compressor is not turning on when you activate the A/C on the dash? You didn't say, although you did say the idle increased when you turned it on. Idle should decrease (assuming engine is warmed up) a noticeable amount when the compressor is on and therefore adds more load to the engine.
Hm, I did not know that about the compressor. I will have to check tomorrow with the sight glass. I wonder if the system can detect that there is not enough refrigerant/gas in the system, why can't they have a computer/light/something that tells us this information.

How do I go about to see if the compressor is running? That would help a lot. I know nothing about the AC system, just what I've been reading from the repair manual and all around the net. Thanks for your help!

I see you're from Florida, you must've caught the gators and UM game today? people down here love their football..

and @ korrupt1, I am going to do exactly that, but from looking around online, the only refrigerant around are either just the r134a by itself OR r134a with dye AND sealer, but I haven't see one that is the refrigerant + leak detect only. I will look at the auto stores.
 

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The compressor is spun by the same belt as the alternator. Of course the belt will appear to be spinning it all the time, but you need to look at the center face of the pulley that the belt turns. It should be spinning too with A/C on. Look at it with the A/C off and you will see that it does not spin then. The compressor will also get noisier when on, sort of a clattering sound.

Yep college football is big in Florida. I'm a lifelong Seminole. Not in a good mood :(
 

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charge it up first and check your pressures.....will tell you alot...if you can AFFORD BOTH gauges......by all means do that.....but if you can only get the one then get that....it will still lead in the direction you are needing......have fixed a hundred with a single gauge before and all are still on the road working just fine
 

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I just really hope it's either the relay or lack of refrigerant, if it's the o-rings or valves, or the compressor...
If it is a lack of refrigerant, IT IS a leak problem, it could be O-rings,compressor, evaporator, condenser, any line. The bottom line is, If the refrigerant is low there is a leak. The A/C is supposed to be a closed system, it does not consume refrigerant like an engine does gas. My 1999 has never needed any and stills blow 42*F at highway speeds.
 
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Ok some updates for now.

Checked the compressor and it's spinning just fine with the a/c on. I need to go buy a wrench to disconnect the + battery before I switch the relays.

Found the sight glass, couldn't find it at first because it was so dirty. There are bubbles coming up from it, definitely some bubbles. I think it could be because I am low in refrigerant. I will confirm the relay later today when I have a chance to get a crescent wrench. My suspicion now is that it's not the relay, but it couldn't hurt to check.

As long as the leak is really slow, I don't mind not fixing it since this car is on it's last leg. But if I add refrigerant and it starts to blow warm air within a month, then maybe I will have to get it fixed. Hopefully if it's a leak, the dye can tell me where it's coming from and during winter break I can tackle the problem.
 

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I'm hard core DIY, and encourage everyone to learn and then do. You're starting off with one of the more specialized areas in terms of tools and knowledge to do it right and safely.

You may be fortunate and merely be suffering from the 14 year accumulation of slow leakage past the seals. Adding refrigerant could be all that's required, but to do that safely (for you & the car), you need a real set of gauges, and the knowledge to properly interpret them. The high side gauge is not an "option"...it's necessary.

I've heard no mention of replacing the dessicant or vacuuming the system, two basic steps required if the system has been or is opened up.

Your mention of disconnecting the battery + worries me as an indicator that you're over your head. Virtually all cars sold in this country in the last 60 years have - ground, which is what is disconnected for safety. Ironically, the plug in nature of most relays makes them something that can be swapped without taking the step of disconnecting the battery.

The quickest and easiest first step in the troubleshooting tree is to depress the valve in the low port for a split second. If refrigerant discharges strongly (like from a tire), it's worth pursuing the electrical possibilities. If it's empty or nearly so, your low pressure cut-out is preventing the compressor from engaging--as designed.

If you want to learn how to do A/C repair, spend some time at the forum at ackits.com. And as previously warned, never add anything but pure R-134a, or same with dye added to detect leaks.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
Oh yeah sorry I meant -. I have the official toyota repair manual and I will just be follow that. The manual says to disconnect the - terminal and then check the relays.
 

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you said above the compressor is engaging, sounds like the relays are fine. You need to hook a set of gauges up to the system with it running and look at the pressure.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Hey everyone, checked the relays today and they are working fine. I added some refrigerant and the air is blowing cold again. I probably have a leak and will check it with the UV dye. I checked the gauge and hopefully put in the right amount. I did use the sigh glass test...if there is proper amount then it should foam after you turn off the ac and then stay clear. That's what the toyota repair manual said. I will see how long this refrigerant will last me until I worry about it again. Anyways, thanks to everyone who contributed and helped! I really appreciate everyone chiming in and giving me advice. Great learning experience!
 

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Glad to hear of your success.
 
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