DIY A/C Recharge kit for 2002 Sonata GLS

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All,
Have any of you done a recharge on your A/C unit? Mine seem to have run out and needs to be charged. If you've done it, do you recommend using one of the kits available at an auto-part store (Murray's,
AutoZone, etc.) or have it done by a pro? I've been told the kits are pretty easy to use so I would like to learn to do it myself. Thanks for any help.
- Thee Chicago Wolf
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To do it right, you need to start from scratch, which means you need a good set of gauges and know how to use them. You also need a vacuum pump to hook up to the system, which will cost you about $400 or so. You really do need to know the procedure so get a shop manual for the car. If you do it wrong, and open up the high pressure side to the can of freon, you're dead! It's really not that hard but you just need to know the steps and precautions.

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Sorry, but you don't need a vacuum pump. If you have good gauges, hooked up to the right ports, know the ambient air temp., and how much charge the system is supposed to have, you can fill the system properly without a problem.
Eric
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth] On Fri, 11 Aug 2006 14:07:16 GMT, "Eric G."

You need a good sensitive refrigerant scale. Virtually all automotive AC systems are charged by weight, not pressure/temperature.
gerry
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From the factory, yes. In the field, it can actually be better to use pressure/temperature. What do you propose? Evacuate the entire system and add X ounces of refrigerant?
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Eric G. wrote:

I believe that is the correct way to do it. That obviously isn't what happens with the DIY kits.
Matt
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Absolutely, it is the right way to do it. We were talking about DIY from the start, or so I thought. Although gauges can cost hundreds of dollars, you can usually find someone that will let you borrow a set, and then you can just use a can of R-134a from an auto supply.
Eric
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Matt is correct. The proper way is to evacuate the system WITH A VACUUM PUMP and recharge it with the correct weight of freon. I believe that you said that the system wouldn't work at all which indicates that the freon level was so low that the pressure switch was not making. At that point, you have to assume that the system is empty and probably has air (with moisture) in it. At that point, you have to use a vacuum. I know I say that because I'm lucky enough to have one from where I used to work, but I also know that it's a big outlay of money and you would want a cheaper cure. I guess you could just recharge it and hope for the best but it won't cool as well because you won't have the same amount of freon in it, or, if you put the right amount of freon in it, then you've over charged it with the air already in there and you could blow hoses, seals, etc.

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tjnamtiw wrote:

And if it is empty, then it has a leak. One needs to find the leak before recharging the system. Most DIYers aren't capable of doing that either. I like working on my car as much as the next guy, but some jobs just require more tools that I care to buy in order to do the job right. Most AC work falls into that category.
Matt
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth] On Fri, 11 Aug 2006 16:58:09 GMT, "Eric G."

Weigh in is the ONLY proper way!!! That is also why legal recharging places have recovery/recycle equipment. In the US, the EPA actually requires 609 certification to work on MVAC equipment such as an automobile. "Recharge kits" exist because R-141a does not need a certification to purchase and the EPA overlooks the private usage.
Weigh-in is the only way to get a full charge without overcharging!
Automotive systems use an accumulator or receiver and TXV metering. Since this setup keeps a reserve of liquid, the amount of reserve can not be determined via pressure. Too little and you will get less than desired capacity. Too much and you get liquid in the compressor and destroy it. Pressure remains the same without regard to liquid level in the receiver or accumulator.
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth]
wrote:

Typo above, "R-141a" should read "R-134a"
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Aftermarket freon refill kits should BE BANNED. They are dangerous in the hands of the inexperienced. Further, the average consumer doesnt have the knowledge on how to properly recharge an auto a/c , doesnt have the tools/guages nor knows how to read them and understand the relationship between pressure and temperature of R134 , will most likely end up putting air as well as freon into the system and eventually causing problems , etc.... Spend the money and have a professional do it --- dont go to your local Oil Change place either...go to a proper Service Station or the Dealership you bought the car from . If you are constantly adding freon to your system, have it electronically leak checked during your recharge visit.
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth] On Sat, 12 Aug 2006 10:43:09 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Dave in Lake Villa) wrote:

Actually, recharging an automotive AC does require at least EPA 609 certification. USING the kits without such is illegal in the US.
Purchasing R-134a does not require certification since it has many uses other than as a refrigerant and is not an EPA controlled material.
As stated elsewhere in this thread, 609 is rarely enforced for private usage.
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'Actually, recharging an automotive AC does require at least EPA 609 certification. USING the kits without such is illegal in the US.'
REPLY: I was going to mention this fact, but, R134 is too readily available to the consumer and abiding by Government Laws is going to be the least of their concern.
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Gotten a lot of good information from here and it seems like the re-charge kits are more trouble than they're worth. But now that I have had my 02 Sonata for nearly 5 years and the A/C is finally starting to go, if a shop does it properly, should I not expect it to last me another 4+ years?
- Thee Chicago Wolf
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'But now that I have had my 02 Sonata for nearly 5 years and the A/C is finally starting to go, if a shop does it properly, should I not expect it to last me another 4+ years? - Thee Chicago Wolf'
REPLY: It could, and, it may not before needing more attention ; if you need a recharge every couple of years then that isnt so bad and you can certainly budget for it. I have a 1998 Chevy Cargo Van with a 305 cid motor and the a/c system has worked flawlessly with 120,000 miles on it. I pressure wash the condensor several times per summer as it sees alot of construction sites , which helps keep the internal pressures resonable and in the normal range for the ambient temp it is. On automotive a/c systems...the biggest culprit are leaking O-rings followed by a leaking Compressor Shaft Seal (as evidenced by a straight line of oily deposits found on the underside of your hood) .
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This is all new info to me. Since I've been pretty ok for 4 years, I figured my system is pretty healthy (no bad -O-rings, cracks, etc.). Since I've decided I am going to take it to either Pep Boys or Jiffy Lube, I wanna make sure they aren't gonna try and shaft me by saying my o-rings are bad or I have leaks. How could I check this stuff to make sure I am not being fleeced?
- Thee Chicago Wolf
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth]

If it isn't broke, don't fix it! You would know if you have a leak, the system would not work or not work very well.
Operating at low charge is fairly easy to detect. You can hear the AC clutch cut in and out very frequently. As it cuts in, the system quickly cuts out via a low pressure switch.
This test requires a reasonable load on the AC. The clutch may cycle quickly if it is cool out even in a properly charged system.
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'I wanna make sure they aren't gonna try and shaft me by saying my o-rings are bad or I have leaks. How could I check this stuff to make sure I am not being fleeced? - Thee Chicago Wolf'
REPLY: Take a small container of liquid dish soap and mix it with water (50/50 solution) , or, buy some spray Fantastic cleaner ... and coat all connections on the a/c system that are accessible. The a/c doesnt need to be in operation. Look for tiny bubbles to appear ; look all around the fitting even underneath. If you see constant bubbles , then there is a tiny leak. Look on the underside of your hood -- do you see a thin line of oilyness about 4-10 inches long directly above the a/c compressor ? If so, you had/have a freon leak from the shaft seal of the compressor.
Thats about as far as you can go without using electronic instruments for freon leak testing.
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth]

Nobody can answer that in advance. If it had a very slow leak which is undetectable, a recharge may be cost effective without repairing the leak that can't be found. This actually is common! Sniffers can't find all leaks, neither can dye. Very slow leaks in concealed areas's are a nightmare to find. They usually get worse, not always.
A few cautions:
- Be very wary of system "leak stop" additives. Many are harsh and many shops won't touch a system with those added since it might contaminate their equipment. There are a additives that are pretty gentle, often they don't help, sometimes they do.
- Never let a system stand with no charge. It has a leak that most likely will let moisture in. Moisture and r-134a oils create acids that will destroy internal components.
gerry
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