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Driver
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first A/C Opel, so I don't really know anything about the A/C. A hose came off a couple weeks ago on it's trip from VA to TX. I took it in to get fixed and converted to 134a.
the fitting that the hose connects to is not barbed but slotted instead, which we think is what caused it to come off.
I took it in to Lambs Tire and Automotive repair, a reputable place, for an estimate.
The estimate was $530! :eek:
The wanted to replace the dryer, which is a big chunk of that amount. I asked them why it needed to be replaced, and he said since the system has been open for this amount of time, they would not warranty it unless they did.
They also have to take off the fitting and rebuild it so the hose will stay on better.
My question is this, is this acceptable? It seems VERY high to me and I told them to STOP.
I plan on calling some other places to get some other opinions, but I thought I would turn to the experts as well.
Thanks guys.
 

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Old Opeler
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5,564 Posts
Dryer

A/C systems cannot tollerate moisture - it freezes inside them and causes failure. The dryer is just that - it is a device to remove and trap any water present inside the system. Once the system is openned the desicant in the dryer gets loaded up with water and will not collect any more so has to be replaced - there is really no other option. Some repair outfits want considerably more stuff replaced.

Messing around with A/C systems is a hazardous occupation and therefore expensive. They probably gave you a pretty good quote as long as it includes the flushing and recharging of the system with the newer R134a type refrigerant and getting it up and going again.
 

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I know that the hose repair itself is expensive, some times as much as a new hose. A 30yr old setup? I'd say that if the price includes the conversion, it's cheap. The new system requires different seals, I believe because of the higher pressure. That's just my 2c's and I'm not a A/C guy :rolleyes: .
 

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Driver
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987 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well I called another guy and he said about the same price. He also said that he would stay with R12. He didn't think R134a cooled very good. Keep in mind I am in Austin, TX! Very hot here. You can get R12 around here for about $75/lb, as opposed the $17/lb. for 134a.
So has anyone had any luck running these stock system withthe R134a convertion? Should I stay with R12?
Thanks.
 

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Old Opeler
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5,564 Posts
R12

Stay with R12 if you are still using the old compressor. A change to R134a probably needs a modern compressor and a new condensor too plus other bits and pieces. The R12 will be recycled refrigerant as it is no longer produced due to the effect it (chlorinated Hydro-carbon) has on the ozone layer in the atmosphere.
 

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workout

Ah, the R-12 vs 134a debate, fun times. In a system designed for R-12, 134a will not work as well, it just isn't the same. The key issues are the expansion valve or orifice, and the compressor. The expansion part needs to be sized correctly for the new freon, and the compressor needs different seals and oil to work properly with the new freon. Most "conversions" by shops include some sort of oil "stabilizer" and in rare occasions a new orifice, if it's cheap and easy. The hoses should ideally be replaced as well, and so should all the o-rings at every junction.

So with all this in mind, where should you go? A new dryer is only $33 at advance auto, so don't let them rip you off there. Similarly, most NAPAs have the equipment to make you a new hose, for under $50 usually. That would take care of your hardware issue, leaving you just the matter of purging the system of air and filling it with you choice of freons. With the $35 conversion "kit" from the parts store, a $40 vacuum pump from Harbour Freight, and an air compressor, you could probably have the system "working" for less than $200, and working slightly less well on 134a, which is cheap. Esentially, this is the same treatment the first shop was giong to give you, but at a reduced rate, with some work by you.

I would go a different route, myself, though. I'd start out by spending some quality time looking for a v-belt type of compressor from something newer and small, like an 86 Samurai, that could be had reasonably already set-up for 134a. Then I'd take a good long look at the Aeroquip catalog, as they have hose ends for AC that you can use to build your own hoses, for about the same prices as NAPA, but with the ends required to go from whatever compressor you get to the existing components. Replace the dryer with one matching the compressor and 134a, and have a system completely set-up for 134a for about the same price as the shop wanted for fixing up yours. A bit more leg work on your part, along with some work, but long-term it'll last longer, I think.

One last thought, if you leave it with R-12, and something like this happens again, you're in exactly the same spot. If you convert it, and this happens, your only going to have to pay to re-fill the $17 134a. More importantly, if that old compressor leaks at all, and it probably does, you can top off the 134a system with a can from Walmart, R-12 on the other hand, will cost you a repair bill to find the leak and fix it before they can add any more.
 

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Here's my $.02, gleaned from what we were taught in A & P school. First off, R-12 is like a sponge to water, it works really great at purging the system if it's been opened, I don't know about R-134. The production of R-12 has been terminated, so once it's gone, it's gone. You can remove the moisture content from the dehydrator/filter by purging it with hot nitrogen gas, but that's costly, so for the price Stephen quoted, why mess with it. I think I paid under $20 for the new R-134 fittings I put on the R-134 compressor I got from e-bay to partially replace the system in my GT, in fact it's the only thing I'm replacing for the system. But I am going for new hoses and seals all the way through the system before I install it. One thing I had to double check was that there were valve cores in both the fittings I got to change over to the R-134 servicing fittings. For those that wish to do that change over, you need the newer R-134 fittings. the old ones won't work. Bit I digress, IMHO, change over, it's cheaper in the long run, eventually even at $75+ a can of R-12, it won't be around much longer and the only folks that can get it here in CA are licensed refrigeration mechanics. and then only in the large 25# containers, and that is not cheap. I was a diehard against the R-134 initially, but now that's all there is to use, so bite the bullet and make the change. :(
 

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$30 of 134a ... short term ... maybe longer.

I've done 2 DIY 134a conversions. One was complete AC System transfer into a 142S... other just a convert/recharge into a Dodge motorhome. Educated myself on potential R12->134a pitfalls... and promptly did NOTHING "right" to prevent premature failure (beyond installing rcmndd oil/cndtnr). Prior was open for a month; later was sealed. Both worked great... but how long 'til problems?...

142S was rearend totaled (9days after paint :( )... maybe 50-75 hrs. in 3mo. on recharged AC... new owner drove it away, AC blowing cold... never heard from them again.

Dodge is seldom used... maybe only 15-20 AC hrs on conversion... but 3 years old last year & still blowing when asked. This year... hmmmm... Idunno... guess a vacation is overdue! Motorhomes :mad: .

I like Oldopelguys suggestion of finding/installing 134a components. Guess if I lived in Texas, it was August, and I needed Opel as driver... I'd throw out 30 expendable bucks for 134a/charge-kit only... then, while junk-yarding for newer 134a component donors, I'd (temporarily?) be cool. * :cool: *
 

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Opel Addict Since 73
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358 Posts
Not Practical

Converting an R12 system to 134a is not practical unless you plan to replace everything. You can simply change the fittings if you like...to be able to charge with 134a...but the cooling capacity will be greatly reduced. 134a systems run at almost twice the pressure of the older R12 systems. Some of the components in the old systems are not intended for those pressures. To do it right...everything has to be changed and that requires biting a rather large bullet. R12 is still available if you're willing to pay 30 bucks a can or more. The real trick is keeping your old R12 system tight so it doesn't leak. The real solution to this problem in our older Opel A/C units is Freeze12. It's a substitute for R12 and is readily available for about 8 to 12 bucks a can. It's what I run in my Manta and works quite well. Before charging it...you have to evacuate all the R12 first. You can find it here: http://www.freeze12.com/
 

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Opel-ing since '74
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opelenvy said:
Well I called another guy and he said about the same price. He also said that he would stay with R12. He didn't think R134a cooled very good. Keep in mind I am in Austin, TX! Very hot here. You can get R12 around here for about $75/lb, as opposed the $17/lb. for 134a.
So has anyone had any luck running these stock system withthe R134a convertion? Should I stay with R12?
Thanks.
Hi George:
I have no experience with Opel A/C, but I did have my 93 GMC Sierra's A/C converted over to R134a a couple of years ago (when it needed a similar repair). The A/C does not cool as well as the R12, and I'm sure PA isn't as hot in the summer as TX.
Good luck,
Rick
 

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Well thought I would add my comments here. I have been working on auto A/C for over 20 years. First if anyone shows up at our shop with anything but R-12 or R-134a we say we are sorry but we cant help. You have to have dedicated equip for each rfrig, and I have seen lots of other refrigerants added with different results( my opinion, stay away from them). The drier also has a bag of dessicant beads inside to draw out the moisture. Guess what can happen to these bags after many years of use? They break and all the little beads go everywhere in the A?C system, whatever you do change it. The biggest problem I have seen in retrofits, is the condenser, most of the older R-12 units are not efficent enough to get the compressor head pressures down, so the system will not cool enough. A factory 134a system will run a little higher pressure but not much, if it was twice as high it would not work either. I feel to do an Opel A/C the right way you need to start over. A small modern compressor, an efficent condenser, new hoses, fittings and hbnr o- rings(green or blue) and a new 134a exp valve. I really think the only parts you could use would be the evaporator and the controls. Our retrofits with all these parts can run as high as $2500! In the end it is all your choice, I like the do it once and do it right approach. Hope something here helped someyone.
 
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