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609 AC certificate Pages: 12

70monte on Wed August 06, 2008 7:29 PM User is offline

Year: 1992
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Cavalier
Engine Size: 2.2L
Refrigerant Type: R12
Country of Origin: United States

Last night I purchased and passed the test for the 609 Certificate. I took the test online through MACS. Do I have to wait until MACS sends me the laminated card before I can purchase small cans of R12 or will the temporary certificate that I printed off after I passed the test be good enough? Is the 7 digit number on the upper right side of the certificate needed to purchase R12?. Thanks.


mk378 on Thu August 07, 2008 10:20 AM User is offline

You should have been issued a bigger number, like 17 digits, that starts with "9". Some suppliers may want to see a copy of the certificate itself but the temporary one is sufficient for that.

webbch on Thu August 07, 2008 10:55 AM User is offlineView users profile

...technically, the temporary certificate is "sufficient", but don't be surprised if you get turned down from some who expect the laminated card.

I bought a tank of R12 online a couple years ago, and it was right about the time my card was showing up in the mail. The seller wanted to wait to get a copy of my laminated card, because he wasn't familiar with the temporary certificate.

Isn't it funny how it's only after getting the certification that you realize how little it means? It says nothing about one's ability to properly service an A/C system. I mean, come on, the test is EASY - they even given you a searchable PDF as the study guide. Yes, I read it, but when taking the test, I did a keyword search on the study guide to quickly find the answers on the test. Couldn't have been easier. Although it's always nice to add to one's knowledge base a little (worthwhile information to have), this was definitely a check-the-box exercise.

BTW, I'm a certified "pest management professional" (Termidor training) as well, but I've never managed pests on any property but my own. Now, whenever I consider trying something new and find out that it requires a "certified" technician, I take a quick look at what's involved in the certification process before deciding whether or not to proceed. There's a big difference between a "certified" A/C technician, and one that can fix your car's A/C.


retrofit on Thu August 07, 2008 1:04 PM User is offline

LOL, that’s so true! I once worked with a guy in Arizona that needed a well drilled on his property in the mountains. Found a driller who would do the job cheap but was not State certified. So, my associate looked into the requirements and with minimal study he became a certified well driller and had the work done under his supervision.

70monte on Thu August 07, 2008 1:09 PM User is offline

Guys, thanks for the response. My temporary certificate definately doesn't have 17 numbers. Maybe the laminated card will be different.

The test was pretty easy and I used the guide that I printed off to help me when I got stuck. I guess it would have been faster the online PDF way.

Even though I did learn some things from studying the 609 info, most of what I've learned about Auto AC has been from this and other forums and reading different AC books as well as by doing two of my vehicles. By no means do I feel "certified" to work on all Auto AC systems just by taking this test.

Does anyone know how long it takes MACS to send out the laminated card? thanks again.


webbch on Thu August 07, 2008 2:51 PM User is offlineView users profile

Not sure how long it takes them to send it out - but it's definitely faster than getting those stupid "rebate" checks when you buy retail product (you know, the ones with a $50 mail-in rebate that takes about 4-5 MONTHS to process). I'd be expecting it in about a week or two.

BTW, didn't mean to imply anything about your skills in A/C with my comments about the lack of value in some of these certification processes, it was just a rant. I too have learned far more from this forum and the book they sell on A/C work than I did from taking that test.


70monte on Thu August 07, 2008 5:04 PM User is offline

Thanks, hopefully it will come soon. I want to replace the compressor on my Cavalier and I want to keep it R12.

I didn't take your comments wrong. I'm well aware that my AC skills are pretty limited. I converted my other 92 Cavalier to R134 two years ago and completely redid the AC on my 98 Chevy truck last summer and thats the extent of my AC experience. I wouldn't mind learning more about it and doing some AC work on the side but I don't have the money for a reclaiming/recycle machine or really the time right now to do much on the side.

The reason I first got into doing some AC work was because it was going to cost me over a $1000 for someone to replace the compressor and convert my other Cavalier to R134 and the car wasn't even worth that much. I figured it was a good time to learn how to do it myself and save some money and it turned out pretty good. Luckily the stuff I had to fix was pretty simple. I haven't had to deal with electrical problems or a contaminated system or one that the compressor has failed.

It has been a fun learning experience and a lot of people I work with found out I have some AC equipment and now everyone wants something fixed or info about AC systems. Thanks again.


webbch on Thu August 07, 2008 6:03 PM User is offlineView users profile

It's funny that you mention the reason you got into it was becasue of how much it cost to have the work done. Me too. At the time I didn't realize how much all the equipment cost - it certainly doesn't pay you back on the first job. Maybe about 4-5 jobs down the road it might though, not counting additional specialty tools for doing compressor clutches. That's assuming you get a recovery machine. The dry ice method works, but it just makes you appreciate a recovery machine that much more.

I'm thinking about taking on side jobs as well, but refuse to work on any system of unknown "cleanliness", especially given the abundance of sealer-containing "magic" at all the parts stores. That means a refrigerant identifier & sealer identifier, which are another $1300 or so. Also need to get a "junk" recovery tank for contaminated refrigerants, but I have yet to identify a good source that admits they will take the stuff and for how much. Given the difficulty of finding such places, I totally understand why many places won't work on contaminated systems.


mk378 on Thu August 07, 2008 6:06 PM User is offline

If you're going to work with R-12, having your own recovery machine will soon pay for itself. You can also use it to salvage the R-12 out of junked window air conditioners (really old ones, most newer ones use R-22), refrigerators, dehumidifiers, etc.

70monte on Thu August 07, 2008 7:51 PM User is offline

I got lucky on the initial equipment purchase because my girlfriend bought it for me. The Cavalier that I was fixing and converting over was the one she was going to be driving and she said she wouldn't drive it unless the air worked. So she bought me the vacumn pump, gauges, can tap, and some other things. I recently bought some R12 gauges so I could fix the Cavalier that I'm driving.

I'm also leery about working on other people's stuff because of the unknown. I know alot of people that I work with that have asked me for help or advice, have used the "death kits" from Walmart. I'm sure I would end up ruining a recovery machine from some unknown junk from a contaminated system. I may get into the AC work more when I retire in about 10 years.


Matt L on Thu August 07, 2008 8:31 PM User is offline

How hard is it to get rid of contaminated refrigerant as a DIYer? I've never tried, and had the refrigerant in my car reclaimed by a local shop for not too much money (which included using an identifier to determine that my car was not full of sealer).

It seems that the "dry ice and propane can" method could be used if you weren't going to reuse the refrigerant, used a hose that you're willing to discard in case of severe sealer contamination, and if you're not charging to do the work. But how do you then get rid of the waste?

webbch on Thu August 07, 2008 9:53 PM User is offlineView users profile

That's the point - getting rid of the junk tank (a proper recovery cylinder used only for contaminated/blended/HC refrigerants). I've never heard of anyone saying it costs them $xx to get rid of said tank, which leads me to believe that a lof of people are just throwing it out when it's full (when nobody's looking).


neilh on Fri August 08, 2008 6:18 AM User is offline

why bother with the 609 can buy R12 cans on ebay... they dont ask for any license..Ebay requires them to include the 609 license requirements in order to be legal to sell the cans on ebay...

Edited: Fri August 08, 2008 at 6:19 AM by neilh

johnboy123 on Fri August 08, 2008 8:22 AM User is offlineView users profile

i believe you have the answer to your question. just wanted to make a couple of comments. i started out as a "shade tree mechanic" part time and later decided to specialize in the ac work. went out to the local college and enrolled in there mechanics course that just covered a/c - this was just before retro fitting came into being. then purchased two recovery machines from master cool - one for R12 and the other for R134A - one recovery machine in the beginning did not work right and after a week or so on the phone with them finally sent it back. they repaired it - both these machines are still working today... then started doing the ff's (friends and family) stuff - i inquired around the area and found out who was the best and started to pattern my work after them - what i learned over the years is that generally speaking the mechanical aspects of a/c work is not that difficult - i had to go back and learn the electrical aspects also. i am just new to this site - and just got out of this business - but if i were still in it - i would check out their flushing system and equipment - regardless what you decide - good luck

NickD on Fri August 08, 2008 9:41 AM User is offline

It's been quite awhile since the 609 issue has been brought up, and found it ironic that the EPA can't write their own test by rely on a number of 3rd parties not even officially associated with the EPA to conduct these tests.

Since I always like to question our laws, feel a simple oath is all that is required.

"I solemnly swear with the full knowledge of the severe penalties involved, that I will properly recover any substance found in a MVAC system and properly dispose of it. Even though many of these substances are legally emitted by other methods and that the EPA has no regulations regarding those responsible for manufacturing AC systems with no liability whatsoever to take preventative means to curtail leaks. If there is only one gram left in a system requiring repair, I will properly recover and dispose of this one gram."

The above covers dust cans of R-134A, horn blowers, and even the potential use of CO2 as a refrigerant.

Regarding the OE's liability, comments are based on a letter received from the EPA.

Mr. NickD,

I received your email from Christine Dibble. I have taken over for her
as the 609 MVAC contact for EPA. Thank you for your question, I understand
your frustration. Unfortunately, EPA's regulatory authority on this issue
is limited by the Clean Air Act as Congress passed the 1990 Amendments.
Section 609 gives us the authority to regulate the standards for technician
certification and recovery/recycling techniques and equipment for MVACs,
however, it doesn't allow us to regulate the auto manufacturers and the
original construction of a vehicle. I'm sorry that I can't offer you more
help. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Suzanne Bratis"

TRB on Fri August 08, 2008 12:19 PM User is offlineView users profile

Originally posted by: neilh
why bother with the 609 can buy R12 cans on ebay... they dont ask for any license..Ebay requires them to include the 609 license requirements in order to be legal to sell the cans on ebay...

Extremely poor advice! Ebay also sells stolen products, sealers and flammable refrigerants. Guess that means those are beneficial also.

When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you:

70monte on Fri August 08, 2008 1:07 PM User is offline

I got the 609 certificate because I want to comply with the law on purchasing R12. I realize that I can buy off of Ebay without this certificate but if I want to buy locally, I will need it. It only cost me $15 and a couple hours of my time to study and take the test. Not a bad investment in my opinion.


befuddled on Fri August 08, 2008 6:19 PM User is offline

Don't you all think that the 609 type laws are foolish, counter productive, and just another unnecessary intrusion of the government? Really now, I should spend the time and money to get certified so I can become liable for discharging a system into open air while my uncertified neighbor can discharge with impunity? Bottom line, it is all going into the atmosphere anyway, eventualy. It is a fools errand to think that can be avoided. Bottom line, certificate or not, those who care, will do the right thing, those who don't, wont. All that the rules accomplished is to drive the price up. As far as detrimental efects in the atmosphere, that die was cast when they made the stuff. Transitioning to something else is the only way to stop the process. If the EPA was serious, they would have recalled all R12 they could get their hands on and destroyed it. It is another debate as to whether or not R12 was all that harmful in the first place. I will assume it is. So let's get rid of it.

webbch on Fri August 08, 2008 11:01 PM User is offlineView users profile

Ok, maybe not ALL ebay sellers are requiring it, but I had to show when I got my 30 lb'er of R12. Regardless, it is quite irresponsible to advise someone in a way that is well known to be completely illegal.

befuddled, I get where you're coming from - I see the logic. Have you ever argued with law enforcement before? Even if they DID see the logic in your argument (logic is in short supply these days as we all know), it makes no difference.

Edited: Fri August 08, 2008 at 11:03 PM by webbch

befuddled on Fri August 08, 2008 11:19 PM User is offline

Argueing with law enforcement is like arguing with a brick. The difference is that the brick is smarter.

But, it is not law enforcement that is the issue. They just follow like a cow with a ring in its nose. And the bloke pulling on the rope is the goventment who knows only one thing, deny, delay, and prohibit. Along with tax and make laws.

Whoops, this is a technical forum. So back to technics. Get the cert, assume the risk. No cert, no risk.

HECAT on Sat August 09, 2008 9:41 AM User is offline

This site is about offering advice and suggestions to "Do It Right".

There will be little support found for shortcuts in repair procedures and methods to skirt the rules and regulations.

Of course, there are plenty of opinions regarding overbearing, burdening, and at time idiotic regulation; including mine. Until we are ready to unite and overthrow our government, it's all hot air; and we don't have much choice but to comply.

"Track conditions tonight are about as bad as I have ever seen them, but we all have to run the same track"; Tony Stewart.

Get the cert (no matter how easy or difficult it is) and follow the rules


HECAT: You support the Forum when you consider for your a/c parts.


NickD on Sat August 09, 2008 10:09 AM User is offline

CFC's were intended for safe refrigeration but their use declined to less than 5% of the total CFC production with the government and military accounting for over 60% of the usage for tracing ocean currents and cleaning. Did have a government contract back then with perfectly good biodegradable PCB cleaning equipment, government said no, had to buy CFC's instead and blast that into the air.

Estimating with 14 years of HFC's, the CFC usage has to be less than 0.2% and initial reports from the EPA stated that it would take a hundred years for the ozone layer to repair itself from the damage already done. But Gore did report in his Academy Award winning documentary that he already fixed the ozone layer, that's history, but now CO2 is the problem. You could try to quit breathing Al. But yet he has many followers and it's not easy living in a country when your fellow Americans are complete idiots.

Sure you can put CFC's in a test tube and expose it to UV radiation and release chlorine and fluorine, but the ozone layer is not a test tube, extremely dynamic with constant changes in air and the chlorine and fluorine as highly active chemicals will combine with other elements and return to their natural state as found in nature, harmless. This is called biodegradable. The fact that millions of tons of chlorine and fluorine is poured into our drinking water is not an issue.

Since the ban of CFC's GM has come out with the single lip seal, Ford with the springlocks, and Chrysler with highly corrosive evaporators, Toyota and Honda also really went downhill, they all have in common the quick coupler ports that have a historical leakage problem, but that is okay. The killing of our FTC has opened the doors to all kinds of crooks with alternate refrigerants resulting in a major contamination problem, conversions to HFC's has hurt the majority of the population that is in the poorest position to afford this.

Like asbestos, why didn't the EPA force all those responsible for putting this dangerous chemical into our vehicles and make them recall and correct this earth threatening problem? The OE's were going to tell us how to do it, but gave up after a few months.

I did point out all these facts to my congressman, he agreed, they always do, but said he has a war in Iraq to deal with. But be a good boy, get your 609 and a recovery machine and save the earth and the penguins.

befuddled on Sat August 09, 2008 11:33 AM User is offline

To Hecat, this site needs not to worry about short cuts. AC is one of those areas where a band-aid will always come back to bite you.

I advocate doing it right, cert or not.

HECAT on Sat August 09, 2008 11:37 AM User is offline

Originally posted by: befuddled
AC is one of those areas where a band-aid will always come back to bite you.



HECAT: You support the Forum when you consider for your a/c parts.


NickD on Sun August 10, 2008 8:56 AM User is offline

Not exactly like an engine with a dipstick, oil drain plug, and a filter change for maintenance and you can live with a drop of oil dripping every now and then, just add some more oil.

With AC, have to find the leak and repair it, flush, replace the receiver/accumulator, and put in the exact amount of oil and refrigerant the book calls for, that is how they are designed. Shortcuts can be very expensive.

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