I was wondering how many a/c techs are looking forward to the day when 134A refrigerant becomes a licensed refrigerant like R12!! I will explain, I work in a automotive a/c / radiator repair shop and it seems the hotter it gets the more custermers call or come by asking questions about a/c like, my gauge (singular) says my system is full but my a/c isnt cooling? or they call and ask what kind of a/c stop leak we use? I guess I am just venting and this seems like a good place to do it! I know you have alot of DIY's on here and that is fine with me but from what I have read on here most are trying to repair there problems not put on bandaids when they need surgery! I guess basically what I am trying to say is that if tommorrow when i got up the head line of the day in tha paper said that I had to have a license to buy 134A and it was going to cost me $500 I would take the test and mail a check !! gladly !!! just so all the jiffy rip do it yourself parts houses wouldnt have it sitting on the frt row with a sign saying "fix your a/c here" give me a break I wonder if 1 out of 10 peeps gets satisfaction from there 29.95 shot of who knows what they try to put in there automotive a/c I'm sorry if I have offended anyone but I am not comparing any of the people on here to the people that call to my business and ask for free info or free diagnostics and they get mad when I tell them that I dont give out free info and I dont do free diagnostics!! ( i really dont tell them that but I dont give out alot of info for free) sorry for venting I guess its just the last 2 weeks of 95 degree + temps
tell me about it. I work in an auto parts store, so you can imagine. People are just plain ignorant and lazy. They come in and say "my a/c isn't cold - I need FREON". We sell TONS of those "all in one" cans that claim to have oil, refrigerant and sealer in them, most of them with NO gauge. At best we sell the ones with the singular low pressure gauge. All Junk. People don't want to hear it when I try to explain that 1. It is recommended to not "top off" 134a 2. You should evacuate and run a vacuum and so forth. They just want "cold air", they aren't interested in a how a system works. I am constantly stocking the shelfs of those cans and the sealers.. and I rarely sell the professional manifold gauge sets....
But then again, avid DIYers like me with a good mastercool vacuum pump, gauge sets, and most importantly - the knowledge, would hurt from this.
And how are licensing R-134a purchases going to help anything? Look what a great job licensing R-12 purchases has been... folks mixing refrigerants, using the wrong oils, using blends, using flammable blends, creation of a black market, need for refrigerant analyzers, having to re-engineer systems... yeah licensing R-12 was absolutely a smashing success! But why stop there, while we're at it, license the purchase of refrigerant oils too, this way we can deal with 10W-40 and Dexron III in there.
I'm so glad you're willing to mail a $500 check to the government for... exactly what??? Just what we all need, another government bureaucracy armed with our dollars telling us what we can and can't do.
If people want to be idiots with their vehicles there's nothing we can - or should - do to stop them. This is no different than using sealers in engines, transmissions, cooling systems, power steering systems... you name it. What are we going to do, impose licensing requirements on motor oil, ATF, coolant, and so forth? Sorry, I don't want to live in a nanny state.
If folks can't get R-134a, the next step will be flammables. Would you rather deal with an empty system gummed up with sealer, or a system charged and propane, butane, ethane or other flammable or toxic gas, mixed in with a little bit of air to ensure proper detonation of the system? I'd rather the former, makes for bigger RO's.
Benjamin Franklin said it best, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
What bugs me even more is the demand for import China made products. All the big vendors are doing it these days! They have to because the customer is only looking at price. People do not care about quality anymore. Well they want it, but at the price of the compressor on Ebay or some other source/vendor which is using these imports. Not all China products are bad.
I also find that the people coming to our forum for the most part are looking to do the job correctly. Many have had it to a shop 2 or 3 times at a $1000.00 a pop. I also have to agree with Joe. We have seen the mess regulating R12 has caused. I honestly would not want to deal with a couple more refrigerant changes and the following fall out. To me it is like banning firearms. Ban them and the nuts will find something to use and we will pay for it in the end.
Be carefull what you wish for. I read that two German auto makers have adopted a new system based on using R744. This will be on the 2009 model year. R744 is a supposed CO2 based environmentally friendly formula. (here we go again) Its only a matter of time where the North America jumps off the bridge after Europe in the name of environmental hysteria. R134a will follow R12 to the dark side. The spin promoting 744 is in full swing claiming to cool more efficiently at moderate outside temps. Huh ? I need cooling at high outside temps. There is says that 744 is LESS efficient and wastes more fuel than 134a. 744 operates at much higher pressures. Thats good cause it means its MORE prone to blowing up requiring repair. In the meantime, I'm stocked on 134a which works just fine for me. Both my Ford Escorts throw vent temps in the mid 30's.
You should try that line out at the local auto parts counter, car show or drag strip. If you make it back to your car with only some bruises, you are lucky.
The autobody jerks have been lobbying to restrict PAINT sales to only "professionals" - all in the name of ecology. Yeah right. The cost of a paint job will triple in a year after they pass that one.
If you think federal restriction is the answer, then you never worked in an industry regulated by them - DEA, FDA, BATFE, FAA, etc.
First, pick an alphabet soup agency to throw the job at. I will pick the BATFE, since the "problem" is a small concealable device. The new agency will be tasked with licensing people that deal in or use refrigerant. The will just use the process & system they have in place for people that deal in firearms...
1) You will need to apply for a Federal Refrigerant License or FRL. This will mean a pair of fingerprint cards, and a clean background. License fees are about $500 per year, and your first license may take 6 months to get. You will be an instant felon if you touch an A/C system without your license hanging on the wall.
2) Book keeping. A bound book listing the serial numbers of the refrigerant cans, the source and disposition will need to be maintained. The VIN for each vehicle must be recorded, along with the grams used to fill it. The feds will be using grams to make the process "easier"...
3) Each customer will need to fill out a modified form 4473. The form will contain a clause that makes the vehicle owner responsible for any leaks at a later date. Mayor Bloomberg will immediately want copies of the 4473's to look for "gross polluters" in his state...
4) Every refrigerant container will require a serial number stamped into the metal, and an RFID tag. Tampering with either will be the standard 10,000 dollar fine / ten years in jail. There will be no grandfathering. Shops that have an un-numbered cylinder can surrender it to the BATFE for destruction.
5) To cover the cost of enforcement, a federal excise tax of 33% will be levied on the manufacturers of refrigerant gasses.
I could go on, but you get the idea. One mistake in reading the law will result in the suspension of your license. A couple of mistakes in a year? you will never have a license again.
If you want to get the feds involved in something, get them to stop the "magic in a can" bozos from defrauding the public. That can of sealer should have two things added to it:
1) Bright purple dye. When you open a "sealed" system, you can show the owner why he needs a complete new system.
2) A warning on the can in 16 point type that clearly states this is an non-reversible situation. Even if the sealer works, if the system is ever opened for any reason the whole system is scrap.
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.
Well spoken, bohica! You've really summed it up.
The reciently tried to stop over the counter sales of R134a here in Ca. The thing did not pass because of "Low income people that cant afford expensive repairs". So in Ca if your broke you can do whatever you want to get cold AC.
Stop-leak should also be required to contain a large amount of skunk odor. Then after it doesn't work, the car will stink so bad that you can't sell it.
OK, my 2 cents on this topic.
cc61 says, 134a for licensed technicians only. (BIG BROTHER SAVE US!)
JJM says, makes for bigger RO's. (OPTIMIST)
TRB says, stop importing crap from China. (REALIST)
Bohica says, stop the "magic in a can" bozos from defrauding the public. (UNOBTAINABLE REALITY)
Snake oil sales Reps say, they are trying to help the poor little old mother of twelve. (BS)
I have also found myself extremely frustrated with this whole issue.
In another post Test Specimen stated some thing like, they make these products because they are in demand and if we don't, someone else will. I do agree that there will always be someone willing to fill the supply & demand scenario regardless.
All you have to do is look at the gambling Mecca we Americans created in the desert. We are a society of gamblers and risk takers. All of us, at one time or another have decided to "risk it".
With the exception of the ignorant sheep, most of us are aware that an engine knock or rattle is not going to go away with the addition of a "can of magic". We know there is wear or a defect that really needs attention, but we try it, and it shuts up for a while.
I don't believe the EPA will or should step in on this issue. As with all snake oil salesmen of the past, they will take advantage of the opportunistic hysteria of this moment in time, and when exposed they will be gone, only to be replaced by the next "magic in a can".
We cannot save the sheep, we can only be sure we DO IT RIGHT ourselves.
Up here (in Canada) you have to be licensed to buy 134a - you can't buy it without one. That might seem like a bad idea but what we don't have is people trying to fix their own A/C and that's a good thing.
In addition, the law states that they can come at any time and audit you - we have to record every ounce of R134a used and account for it all. I haven't seen 'the man' yet but that's why I don't advertise and work from home :-)
All of this is done to prevent damage to the environment - which I agree with. The problem is that when I go to the electronics shop they have several hundred cans of 'dust blower' on the shelf and it's proudly labelled R134a!! You can walk in and buy it off the shelf for blowing off electronics - which is the same as venting it into the atmosphere....
The good news is that we don't have people trying to do A/C themselves. What that means is we see very little stop leak or flammables. It's very surprising for a guy from Canada to see all these people on this site trying to fix their own A/C and trying to build a vacuum pump out of wierd things :-) Up here it never happens - heck, we have a hard time buying equipment....
So up here, 99% of all A/C work is done by a shop. Even so, it's wierd how some customers think they know what's wrong and what the solution is. Believe it or not, I find A/C to be one of the more complex things I've done. There are tons of variables that have to be taken into account and it's quickly become one of the most complex sub-systems on a vehicle. Many times I see service manual sections devoted to A/C that are several inches think - per model.
When you add in the complexities and experience needed to do something like replacing an evaporator on some vehicles or troubleshooting electronic issues - it's amazingly complex. I firmly believe that most techs fail to diagnose the problem initially and throw parts at things - I see it all the time. In fact, Frost & Sullivan reported that fully 50% of all A/C repairs performed in North America result in failures with the customer loosing all their money due to the repairs not being cumulative.
I believe Tim mentioned Chinese parts... don't get me started. Up here our primary vendor is Visteon. I dropped them altogether in favor of AC Delco - here's why;
I repaired a rear wheel drive caddy using all AC Delco parts - save one. The high pressure cut-off switch that sits in the compressor was not in stock for Delco - but it was for Visteon....... Stupid me, I got it delivered, installed, charged and tested - no leaks and great performance. Months later customer calls and says A/C is wonky. Car shows up with zero 134a remaining. I charge it and can HEAR the gas leaking from the switch. I mention it's either the switch or the port. I get new switch, pull old one and inspect - it says made in China on the bottom.
I install new one (Visteon again), re-charge and test - audible leaking. Recover, pull switch, made in china on the bottom. Customer thinks I'm a nut for using Chinese parts..... I mention that the switch would have to be ordered, several days later get a Delco one, eat the extra $30 and the lost 134a, install it - all is well.
Two years ago I did an A/C job on an Oldsmobile. Car was worth $1200 at best. It belonged to owner's then deceased father - fix it. Turns out it needed everything except the condenser. Cost of job? $2000 even. Customer asks what the life expectancy would be and I answer 5-7 years just like new. Parts ordered on Saturday - don't show up until next Saturday. Ends up I'm doing the job on Saturday and Sunday on a long weekend for an unhappy customer.
I stick to it and do the best job ever regardless of the customer's anger at the delay. Spotlessly clean, 500 micron vacuum, EXACT charge, every bolt and screw back in the same hole and even re-sealed the plenum (had to be cut open) so there would be no loss of plenum pressure or engine compartment fumes getting in the plenum. Install reman Visteon compressor (didn't know better back then) and warranty the job for 2 years/unlimited mileage/parts & labor. Average vent temp on Max/Max was 4c and the compressor was silent.
Fast forward two years less 4 days and I get a phone call - A/C compressor noisy. I was recovering from dental surgery (4 teeth pulled/higher then a kite) and guess what I'm doing? I'm paying $2000 to do a warranty job because the supplier won't warranty their parts..... Guess what? I order the parts on Monday and they show up on... you got it - Saturday so you know what I'm doing that weekend.....
Here's what I find from the Visteon compressor failure....
Nice..... the compressor failed but failed to completely fail....
And as a result sent burnt oil and metal through my newly flushed system...
During that compressor failure it tried to pass something big (a ball bearing perhaps?)
through the discharge port on the new compressor I so lovingly installed....
That Visteon compressor just kept on giving....it tried to send that large metal slug
through the brand new Delco hose set.....
As a result of that compressor failure I had to replace everything except the
Evaporator and the pressure switches...all at my expense.
Since then I've found out about reman compressor manufacturing and nose bearings. I found out that some manufacturers use bearings made of metal that's not hard enough (Rockwell Test) and that they don't use enough grease in the sealed bearings and/or that the grease they do use is not rated to a high enough temperature - as a result, I'm doing warranty work for unhappy customers - when it's not my fault!
What really gets me is that I have to babysit the local parts supplier (Lordco) and make sure they do their job. They have zero A/C expertice so that means I call in the part numbers (to avoid application mistakes) and even when the ordering is streamlined like that I still see delivery times slip....repeatedly.... while the vehicle is apart and the customer is without it.
Then I discover that not only do I have to babysit the parts supplier (and learn their business) but I also have to babysit the purchaser for the world's largest A/C company (Visteon). Seems he's been off to China, shown someone there a pressure switch, they looked at it and said, "Yes, we can make 'em for .20c" never realizing that it's not enough to look the same - the switch actually has to work under pressure from a liquid or a gas that's trying like hell to escape past it. They don't know that - all they know is that it's round, has a plastic end and a metal bottom with two prongs on it for a connector.......
The Visteon guy, never realizing that he actually should check up on the factory's experience at making pressure sensitive switches, just goes off and orders 3 million of them because they just got them for 9000% less then what they were paying for a North American made unit - that actually holds pressure and is sealed. As a result he's now the employee of the year and they throw a party in his honor while I'm up to my armpits in his mess....
As a result, I have to pay 3x the price of a Visteon switch to buy a quality GM unit because GM knows how to perform due diligence when it comes to suppliers. No wonder, if GM used a crappy switch it would promptly bite them in the ass because they'd have warranty claims at the rate of several million per year - paid for out of their own pocket. They realized long ago that quality and price are the perfect marriage and that one without the other resulted in my Visteon divorce.
All the while it's getting harder for me to drown my sorrows with Champagne because the Chinese are buying it all up and celebrating their success (at the expense of my warranty) and in the meantime they are busy shooting down US spy satellites with the money we gave them to build their economy. If that weren't enough - to add insult to injury - they've now taken to sending me 30 emails a day explaining that my penis is not large enough - but they can fix that too...
Whether it will leak under pressure remains to be seen.....
The hard part for me is when I explain this stuff to my customers they look at me really funny as if I'm stupid...
Oh, and by the way, the warranty compressor that I bought for my customer? The manifold on the end of the new hoses I bought for the customer wouldn't bolt up to it for some reason....it turned out Visteon had installed the wrong end cap on the compressor....how about that?
Best & Thanks;
Edited: Tue August 28, 2007 at 4:44 AM by marvin-miller
I would like to ask this of all the professionals out there that think only licensed "experts" should be allowed to fix A/C systems. Why should this industry be treated any differently from other repair industries? Used motor oil is poison. Antifreeze will kill kids and pets. A bad brake job could kill a busload of people. Yet we are allowed to do these jobs ourselves. How many of you would even be in this field today if you had to have permission from the government to even try it?
I was introduced to auto A/C in my auto tech class in the early 80's,when you could buy R12 anywhere. If not for this exposure, I would not have gotten interested in how this great invention works. I eventually went to my local college for a 1 year certificate in residential/commercial HVAC. I now know how to properly handle refrigerants. I don't do this for a living because my current job is too hard to walk away from,from a financial aspect. My point is, Don't coax the government into to much legislating. I am a drag racer-my tracks are closing. I ride dirt bikes and quads-my riding areas are closing. I enjoy repairing my own vehicles. Don't encourage them to take that away,too.
Stopping the chinese junk-er-naught is REALISTIC point of view? Really? I doubt anything will stop the import of cheap goods from china. It has made wally world the giant it is today. Your example of "if we don't someone will" applies - we will not shut down the import of substandard chinese goods. (unless it kills our dogs).
I agree that getting the feds to enforce morality among the magic in a can producers is tilting at windmills - the snake oil folks would just drive on around any legislation anyway. A guy can wish however...
You operate at the very end of a long supply chain, in a limited market - on an island as I recall. Given the mild climate in BC, and the remote location it is easier to get a customer to put up with high costs & long repair times. There is a fair bit of HC use going on in Canada due to the restrictions. I realize that you have grown up with the socialist bent of the canadian government, and probably do not see the big isssue with all of the government intevention in your business you describe. Having an audit & premises inspection here would not be well received...
The automakers would be overjoyed to seal the hood shut & keep you from ever touching your car underhood. It is the automotive aftermarket that keeps a lot of that at bay. You should join SEMA, and help support them in the fight against bad legislation. It goes much farther than just the A/C in your car. What if a state decided to ban the private sales of brake system parts "for safety"? I was not joking about the proposed restriction on paint sales. If you are a member of the NHRA, you probably see some of the proposed garbage that never makes the newspaper. Join up & protect your hobby - or the fun police will kill it if they can.
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.
Talking about more regulation not to permit foreign ships from dumping their ballast water into the Great Lakes, already have infectious virus's killing or poisoning the fish, plus we got some beetle that already had wiped out over 30 million ash trees from China. But you don't show the major news networks flying over showing the huge number of square miles of devastation.
Only thing that keeps a ship afloat are the bilge pumps, so what is a captain suppose to do, let his ship sink? And if it does sink, the damage is already done with the virus's. So much for legislation, and barring these ships from entering our fresh pure waters is totally out of the question.
Anybody ask the question, if the fish are being poisoned, aren't we next?
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