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AC blowing smoke out vents, already spent $1150

LD_71 on Thu June 05, 2008 8:59 PM User is offline

Year: 1999
Make: Dodge
Model: Grand Caravan
Engine Size: ?
Refrigerant Type: ?
Ambient Temp: ?
Pressure Low: ?
Pressure High: ?
Country of Origin: United States

Last year our AC quit working, there was hissing, a puff of smoke, and then the air quit blowing cold......the mechanic did a leak test, said it was the compressor, we paid to put in a new compressor, they recharged and a couple weeks later, LARGE amount of smoke coming out of vents and under the hood, loud noise (similar to at the gas station using the machine to put air in tires) - we took it back in and they (without telling us) put in a new expansion valve. Drove it home, took it out the next morning and within 1 hour, hissing, large amount of white smoke (smells kinda sweet and burns your nose) then the air quit working again. We already have $1150 in this and PLEASE would someone tell me what they think this is. We are taking it back in tomorrow after telling them we are not spending another dime since they've misdiagnosed it twice. Any ideas on what this is???

Thanks
LD

TRB on Thu June 05, 2008 9:13 PM User is offlineView users profile

These vehicles are known to have evaporator leaks.

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LD_71 on Thu June 05, 2008 9:24 PM User is offline

Thanks, I'm assuming that is expensive to fix??

In your opinion, is there any reason for them to have checked the compressor or expansion valve for a symptom of smoke coming out of vents?

LD

LD_71 on Thu June 05, 2008 9:26 PM User is offline

Also, is this something an unexperienced person could fix on their own with guidance??

LD

TRB on Thu June 05, 2008 9:31 PM User is offlineView users profile

Do you have this "smoke" when ever the a/c is on or only a short time after they refill the system? Real smoke is an electrical issue. A mist of refrigerant & oil is a sign of a leak. Changing the evap is a major job.

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When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you: ACkits.com
Contact: ACKits.com

mk378 on Thu June 05, 2008 9:40 PM User is offline

It sounds like your "smoke" was the refrigerant leaking out very rapidly. Refrigerant can exist as a liquid under pressure, but it becomes a cold mist/gas when released into the air. It has a sweetish smell. Fortunately it is not flammable, in case of situations like this.

Since it came from under the hood, It could be the relief valve (if equipped) or one of the hoses under the hood blowing. This results from excessive pressure which is usually a result of the radiator/condenser fans not working. There is a safety switch to prevent a blowout but maybe it is faulty or has been bypassed.

If it were the evaporator itself, it seens unusual for that to happen more than once. Once the evaporator blew out, it becomes such a big leak that it would be impossible to to recharge the system. Maybe one of the seals keeps blowing out, and they keep replacing it. The expansion valve is attached to the evaporator right at the firewall. It is conceivable that it failed, or at least appeared to. If you have a relief valve it is usually part of the compressor.

To replace the evaporator the dashboard has to be taken out of the van, change the evaporator, and put it all back together. This is a tedious time consuming process but it is all labor cost which could potentially be saved by doing it yourself. The evaporator itself is not very expensive.

LD_71 on Thu June 05, 2008 10:03 PM User is offline

It only happens within hours of being recharged - after a couple minutes of blowing smoke, it's done and then we just have an AC that blows outside air

GM Tech on Thu June 05, 2008 10:28 PM User is offline

All you have to say is Caravan or Voyager- and I'll tell you it's the evaporator-- Have seen about 6 so far this summer--so how come your ACE mechanic doesn't suspect the evap first???????

could have saved a lot of money - $1150 would probably done the evap job - right the first time....

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The number one A/C diagnostic tool there is- is to know how much refrigerant is in the system- this can only be done by recovering and weighing the refrigerant!!
Just a thought.... 65% of A/C failures in my 3200 car diagnostic database (GM vehicles) are due to loss of refrigerant due to a leak......

TRB on Thu June 05, 2008 10:43 PM User is offlineView users profile

Quote
Originally posted by: GM Tech
could have saved a lot of money - $1150 would probably done the evap job - right the first time....

+1


-------------------------
When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you: ACkits.com
Contact: ACKits.com

LD_71 on Fri June 06, 2008 10:52 AM User is offline

I really appreciate all your help! The van is at their shop today and we're waiting to see if they are going to make this right or not. I'm assuming they won't but it doesn't hurt to try. Small town - word of mouth HUGE around here.

Anyways, assuming they aren't going to make this right - what is the best resource to change my own evaporator? I am a woman with no mechanical experience what so ever but hoping my husband (who only has minor experience) to jump in and help too.

Thanks

94RX-7 on Fri June 06, 2008 1:39 PM User is offline

Changing your own evaporator is not a good task for the beginner mechanic.

GM Tech on Fri June 06, 2008 1:48 PM User is offline

Yeh- I agree with above-- it has something to do with those nasty dash pulls.........

-------------------------
The number one A/C diagnostic tool there is- is to know how much refrigerant is in the system- this can only be done by recovering and weighing the refrigerant!!
Just a thought.... 65% of A/C failures in my 3200 car diagnostic database (GM vehicles) are due to loss of refrigerant due to a leak......

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