The very first myth that needs to be addressed is “topping up” your system. Did you know that if your system is 10% low, you will lose 40% of your oiling capability to your A/C Compressor? You won’t experience lack of cooling until you have lost 40% of your refrigerant. During that time, from -10% to -40% loss of charge, you are doing damage to your compressor. Your compressor does not have a sump like your engine does, it relies on the proper volume of refrigerant in the system to push the refrigerant oil back to the compressor. The problem with topping up your system is you don’t know how much refrigerant is in your system to add to it. There is no “dip stick” to indicate refrigerant charge. When you add refrigerant to your system that is blowing warm you can increase the charge until the system starts to blow cold, but you may still be in the -10% to -40% low refrigerant range, which is still doing damage to your compressor. The only proper way to service your Air Conditioning is to recover the system, pull a vacuum to remove contaminants such as air and moisture, install refrigerant oil to lubricate the compressor, and then install the factory refrigerant charge as specified by the manufacturer.
The second myth is those “little cans of refrigerant” that are being sold at local retailers. In Canada Federal Law states you can not sell refrigerant in containers that contain less than 22 pounds (10kg). If you are purchasing a container that has 6-12 ounces of “refrigerant” in it, this is NOT R134a (refrigerant) which is required for your vehicle. What you are buying is called a Hydrocarbon, also known as a propane and butane mixture. The way you can tell is to look at the labeling on the container, it will show the explosive and flammable symbol. R134a will ONLY show the compressed gas symbol on the label. R134a is not flammable or explosive, and is specified by the vehicle manufacturer for your vehicle. R134a and all proper refrigerants require technicians to be Federally and Provincially certified to handle them. They are not available to be purchased without the proper certification. See the attached video to watch the dangers of Hydrocarbon refrigerants.
A/C Fact: Your vehicles air conditioning system runs whenever you turn on the Defrost mode. It is designed to engage and act as a dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air entering your vehicle to aid in removing moisture (fogging) from your windows. You will notice vehicles with working air conditioning that the side and back windows are always clear. Vehicles without air conditioning or needing A/C repairs will have steamed up side and back windows which continually need wiping to clear. If your A/C system is not working 100% at the end of the summer season and you think you will get it fixed next year, do not put it off or you will do damage to your compressor. Remember, when you turn on the Defrost Mode, the compressor is engaged. With a low refrigerant charge over the winter months, you’re not getting the refrigerant oil back to the compressor which is damaging it all winter season that will lead to costly repairs in the spring time.
A/C Fact: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) designed the A/C fittings that are on your vehicle. These fittings have a SAE acceptable leakage rate of 1/4 ounce of refrigerant per year per fitting. That does not sound like a lot, but the average vehicle has 8 fittings. This means that you are losing 2 ounces of refrigerant per year. It is recommended that you service your air conditioning every 2 years. This will ensure that your compressor is never “starving” for oil. The older vehicles used to have systems that held upwards of 36 ounces of refrigerant. Today’s vehicles have much smaller systems that require as little as 15 ounces of refrigerant. The need to service your air conditioning has become much more important with these reduced capacities or system damage will occur.
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