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Confusing Compressor Oil Leak

tomnn2000 on Thu October 30, 2008 4:25 PM User is offline

Year: 1987
Make: Oldsmobile
Model: 98 Regency Brougham
Engine Size: 3.8l
Refrigerant Type: R-12
Ambient Temp: 50
Pressure Low: 22-43
Country of Origin: United States

I've been chasing a small oil leak on that I thought was on the engine for some time. Put in a new front seal, then just changed the oil pan gasket. All looks tight but I was still getting 8-10 drops of oil on the floor when parked. I poked and felt all around and finally figured out the oil seems to be coming from the compressor up front between the case and pulley (compressor front seal?). I was scratching my head on how to make sure it was from the A/C and finally remembered that I had put some Kent Moore fluorescent dye in when I charged it. Took out my black light and sure enough the oil glowed.

Now for my confusion. I had figured that if the oil was dripping out the R-12 should be pretty well gone. I put the gauge on the low side and it cycled between about 22 and 42 about 6 times a minute (it is only 50 ambient so I had the defroster on to get it to cycle some). I couldn't put my hands on my adapter to check the high side, but I had not expected to see any pressure at all.

The compressor is a DA6. Can it leak oil without losing refrigerant?

I figured on hitting the wrecking yard for another compressor. Can I get by without changing the accumlator if the system still has a bit of a charge?

Thanks in advance.


mk378 on Thu October 30, 2008 9:39 PM User is offline

Leaks can preferentially lose oil if they're in the bottom where they are always covered with oil. You should change the accumulator if it's still the original one from 1987. Even in a perfectly tight system, some moisture diffuses through the hoses and will eventually saturate the desiccant.

Chick on Thu October 30, 2008 9:40 PM User is offlineView users profile

A car that old it would pay to change the accumulator, and it's necessary if retrofitting to R134a, I would also pull and check the O tube, as the DA6 is a black death compressor. Check out Olds 98 and replace it with an HR6.. Hope this helps.

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

tomnn2000 on Fri October 31, 2008 8:22 AM User is offline

Thanks, that does explain the oil a bit more for me. I need to move quickly then to find someone to evacuate my R-12 if I want to salvage any. I did replace the accumulator 3 years ago along with the O-tube (this is the car that I found 2 0-tubes in, one where it belonged and one just before the evaporator. Only put one back.) I'll stay with R-12. Last year I was able to buy it for about the same price as a can of 134a.


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