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Old 07-01-2010, 01:11 PM   #1
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AC help needed and appreciated

'98 TJ with factory air. Had a very slow freon deterioration then last month lost all freon in a hurry.

Took it to a reputable shop, they found a leak in one of the refrigerant lines and replaced the line. (They said the line had a hole rubbed in it by a bracket or brace)

In two weeks the freon was depleted, took it back to them, they found the refrigerant line they replaced had an O ring that didn't seat properly and they fixed that. No additional $

In two weeks the freon was depleted again. Took it back in and they said they pulled a vacuum on it and it held. Then they pressured it with freon and used a freon detector "over and over, for hours, every connection, compressor seals, freon lines.... until they were beating their heads against the wall" and couldn't find any trace of a leak.

They said that they suspect an evaporator leak even though their detector didn't pick anything up in the air discharge vents. They suggested bleeding some of the freon off and adding some "stop leak" which, when I questioned this, they said it wouldn't gum up the workings of the system, a lot of people use it, and a leak like I've got just might slow down or stop the leak. They said if they got into an evaporator changeout the labor and parts would be pushing $500. I gave the go-ahead to put the stop-leak in it. No additional charge.

Little voices are telling me different things. One voice (the skeptical one) is telling me I'm getting jerked around by these guys. It also predicts the stop-leak will be a problem. Another voice (the trusting one) is telling me I've done business with these guys before and they are on the up-and-up. Another voice (the frugal one) is telling me to buy my own leak detector and go at this myself even though I don't know squat about auto AC.

I think I am going to buy a freon detector, just so I'll have one. I've needed one in the past and probably will in the future. Any recommendations on brand, type, $?

Is getting into an evaporator changeout something I want to do? Does anybody have a write up on this?

All help appreciated!

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Old 07-01-2010, 01:49 PM   #2
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Never did it on a jeep but did it on my Ram van. The hardest part was getting to the coils. So the a/c coils and heater core were in the same housing so I went ahead and changed the heater core just in case. My friend who is an a/c tech had a detector that made a buzzing siren noise. whenever he got close to the box that held the coils it went off. Anyways after I changed the coils, had him charge it up and it's been cold ever since. So it is doable by a non-mechanic.

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Old 07-01-2010, 02:21 PM   #3
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I have never been a fan of "stop leak" for anything. It is just masking a problem. I have used leak detection dye in the past and have had good luck in finding freon leaks. The leak detector I bought from MAC is a POS and I never use it anymore. You might want to have someone else look at it before you pull the evap out and make sure your on the right track Good luck.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:46 PM   #4
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Harbor Freight Tools has inexpensive UV lights for spotting a leak detection dye that they also sell.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:19 PM   #5
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Harbor freight has a good electronic detector - I have one.

I bought another type - China - on Ebay $20 - that's the one I use all the time. Both are sensitive enough to sniff a tiny leak in the evaporator by sniffing the duct.

Dyes work, but it has to be a leak where you can see it - Murphy's Law says it's not where you can see it.

Be sure to check the compressor - run it for awhile, then shut off the engine and check the ends. Most of the Jeep compressors replaced under warranty are for a slow leak. They are actually easy to reseal - do a search on the internet with your compressor number - seal kits and instructions are available.
Usually TJ compressors are Mitsubishi or Sanden - very similar.

A can of stop leak in an otherwise good system won't hurt anything, no more than anti-freeze destroys your radiator - it has stop leak in it too. It often solves the problem. 2nd can is a maybe-maybe. 3rd can -- Don't!
Stop leak can plug things up if you use too much, but the alternative is replace expensive parts - by guessing. That can get out of hand.


http://cgi.ebay.com/Halogen-Gas-HFC-...item3f00e0985a
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:05 AM   #6
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Thanks for the tips! I ordered a freon leak detector, it's on it's way. I want to spend time searching with the leak detector before tearing into the dash after an iffy leak in the evaporator. I'm not as agile as I once was....a recent cigarette lighter installation dang near whipped me.
Any more suggestions appreciated!
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:35 PM   #7
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I hope you find the leak because my 98 just did the same thing. Worked great one day and the next day nothing. The place that recharged it said they could not find any leaks under the hood and that it was most likely under the dash and they weren't interested in tackling it. Ugh. How hard is it to recharge it at home? I've never done it but would like to try so I can see if it's leaking or something else. When I turn it on now the clutch does not engage on the fairly new compressor. I'd love to see a video of someone recharging a TJ.
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sahara1998 View Post
I hope you find the leak because my 98 just did the same thing. Worked great one day and the next day nothing. The place that recharged it said they could not find any leaks under the hood and that it was most likely under the dash and they weren't interested in tackling it. Ugh. How hard is it to recharge it at home? I've never done it but would like to try so I can see if it's leaking or something else. When I turn it on now the clutch does not engage on the fairly new compressor. I'd love to see a video of someone recharging a TJ.
It has been one week since the guys worked (?) on my A/C and didn't find anything but suspected the evaporator leak. They did add some STOP LEAK to the system (with my approval)......as of today it is cooling great. It's early but I'm thinking the STOP LEAK did the trick. I've read tons of stuff on this forum and others about using STOP LEAK.....many opinions pro and con. We'll see if I screwed up having the stuff put in....maybe so, maybe no.

I ordered a freon leak detector and it's on its way. Hopefully it won't be needed just yet but I'll have it if the leak shows back up. I've got two other vehicles with A/C plus central A/C in the house so the leak detector will probably be used sometime. The dog days are coming and around here A/C is sure nice.

Recharging is not hard.....Wal Mart sells what you need....just follow the directions.

Good luck on finding your leak!
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:41 PM   #9
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I wonder if it would be worth using the leak detector now while there is R-134 in the system. Do you remember if the clutch was engaging on the compressor when you had no cooling? I'm hoping it's something simple. It's been 90-100 degrees here the last few days so I have no desire to be under the hood.
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Old 07-06-2010, 08:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sahara1998 View Post
I wonder if it would be worth using the leak detector now while there is R-134 in the system. Do you remember if the clutch was engaging on the compressor when you had no cooling? I'm hoping it's something simple. It's been 90-100 degrees here the last few days so I have no desire to be under the hood.
When I first took it in with the A/C problem, the compressor had quit kicking on and off.....it will stop cycling with low enough freon level. As you add freon it will start back to cycling.
Normally if you have a leak, first you will notice it isn't cooling as good as it should and the compressor seems to be cycling too much (cuz it is). Then the compressor stops cycling to protect itself.
The leak detector works best when the system is fully charged.....more leakage. It stands to reason as there is less freon in the system, it would be harder to find the leak with a leak detector. I am by no means an authority on this subject.....I'm one shade tree shy of being a mechanic!

BTW.....this is the leak detector I ordered. This guy's price was the best I found for this model leak detector....he is located in NJ.
http://cgi.ebay.com/CPS-LS790B-Multi...item483b2d876d

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