96 Caravan A/C evaporator

The A/C in our 96 Grand Caravan died (again), and the diagnosis is that the evaporator is leaking. The estimate for this job comes to just shy of
$1000.00. This being the latest in a long line of failures over the last 3-4 years, we're probably just going to live with it until we can replace the vehicle or something really major goes..
Is this a reasonable estimate for this job? From the shop manual, it looks like the whole dash as to some apart as well as a number of things in the engine compartment before you can get the air handler assembly out, so I tend to believe it. Any tricks to doing this cheaper?
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writes:

The leaky evaporator is a well known problem in those years
I just had to go through this myself as well. It's a _lot_ of work...
It's worth asking around to see if your shop is willing, given the number of hours, to give you a break.
If you go for it, take a look at the coil assembly after they remove it. And then you'll understand how Daimler Benz bought up Chrysler for cents on the dollar...
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writes:

I'm pretty sure at this point that we're just going to run the thing into the ground and live with the broken ac. We're in the northeast and summer doesn't last that long anyway. If this was Texas (where we lived when we bought the car) then I wouldn't have much choice.
The vehicle has had good care and maintenance over the years and so far everything that's broken has been fixed, but I've just had it.
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