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Major refrigerant blow out.

saabtour on Tue June 23, 2009 11:04 AM User is offline

Year: 1996
Make: Saab
Model: 900 SE
Engine Size: 2.5 L V6
Country of Origin: United States

Hi. I had a major refrigerant system blow-out and need some advice. My 1995 900SE convertible, w/ 2.5 V6, developed a refrigerant leak last year and didn’t have any cause to do anything about it until now that it’s getting hot outside. About a month ago I put in a can of refrigerant w/ stop leak, and everything worked fine for a few days (about a week). Next, I put in a small can of just stop leak and another can of refrigerant, and things worked a little longer (a couple of weeks) but cooling efficiency was dropping slowly. Pressure in the low pressure port yesterday was down to nothing, and no cool air at all. I put in one can of refrigerant but could not get the pressure to register in the low pressure port at all, it stayed at zero, so I started to put in a second can. In the process, the pressure reading at the low pressure port started to go up fast, and hit the red zone in the pressure dial of the hose I was using in less than a minute. I tried dumping some of the system contents by pressing the shreader valve on the low pressure port, but the pressure kept going up anyway. Suddenly, there was a big-time blow-out of refrigerant, oil, and God knows what out of a system component(s) on the driver’s side near the radiator. It looked like a mushroom cloud coming up from under the car, and there was a hissing sound that remained for about ten to fifteen minutes after the fact. A brief preliminary look shows that one of the AC pipes that runs below the radiator may have a hole in it near the juncture with the thread, can’t tell that well right now, but the hissing sound was coming from somewhere else (again, by the driver’s side near the radiator). The ground was soaked with refrigerant system oil and the sill below the radiator was dripping, so I imagine everything drained out of the system. I could use any help and all ideas on what happened, what went, what I can do to fix it, and where I can buy parts. Please accept my sincere thanks in advance of anything anyone can offer. John.

mk378 on Tue June 23, 2009 11:53 AM User is offline

A good cautionary tale about stop leak here. Bottom line is it doesn't work, and it will ruin your system. After 2 cans, it was still leaking, but everything was getting clogged up inside.

Hardened stop leak cannot be removed. You need to replace the whole system-- every part that touches refrigerant.

HVargas on Tue June 23, 2009 12:03 PM User is offlineView users profile

Unfortunately since you put a pretty heafty amount of sealer in the system. You are going to need to replace and flush everything in the system. Sealer is one of the worst things to introduce into the system.


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

Voyager97 on Tue June 23, 2009 12:10 PM User is offlineView users profile

Get your cheque book out.

Stop-Leak is the worst thing ever invented. It might work temporarily, but it is the kiss of death for A/C systems.
Unfortunately, it is marketed by people who know that it will sell to people who aren't in a position to know how bad it really is. That's no criticism of you John, rather the shysters who make money out of bull***t.

I'm afraid fixing your system won't be cheap. You need to have it taken apart and flushed out to get rid of the stop-leak, re-assembled and the leak found and fixed.
You will almost certainly need a new receiver/drier as it will have absorbed moisture from the air after dumping all the refrigerant - maybe a new condenser as well as stop-leak is hard to remove.

Having an A/C shop do the work is the only real way to go, as the equipment to do it yourself would be half the value of your car.
If you are in or near Phoenix AZ, contact the guys who run this forum (link at top of page)

Best of luck.

Vic @ Pennine AutoChill

HECAT on Tue June 23, 2009 12:12 PM User is offline

I am sorry to that you are here seeking advice now, and not at an earlier time. Guidance on how to find and fix a leak is what you were in need of, but now you will be needing a whole lot more. The double dose of stop leak ("magic in a can") stuff has worked... and it has most probably clogged the refrigerant control orifice or condenser paths causing overpressure and blowing out a seal, hose, or relief valve. The total system may now be in need of total replacement as it is considered completely contaminated and most definitely so if it has been able to cure in the system. Since the system has now degassed, most probably ingesting air and moisture; it has cured. However, if the relief opened and closed at a lower pressure (maintaining some refrigerant charge), the majority of this "stuff" may still be in liquid form; and you still may be able to flush it out, but there will still be quite a few pieces still in need of replacement.


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


saabtour on Tue June 23, 2009 12:41 PM User is offline

You guys are great, thanks for such fast responses. I take the blame for this, of course, didn’t know the stuff was that bad. Unfortunately, this car is my daily driver and it’s all I can do to keep it going. Life is like that, can’t afford major expenses right now, so I try to do all the maintenance on it myself. Any advice on what can be salvaged vs. what definitely needs replacement would be sincerely appreciated. Again, thank you so much, and please keep any helpful advice coming. I’m fairly handy if someone points me in the right direction. John.

Chick on Tue June 23, 2009 4:59 PM User is offlineView users profile

There are no short cuts in AC repair.. so you frist need to find the line that blew, may have also been the pressure relief valve on the rear of the compressor or the high side line, I'm not sure with those cars, then the leak needs to fixed, the system totally flushed, fresh oil added, a deep vacuum pulled and recharged into the vacuum. you cannot have air in the may get lucky if you get the sealer out before it hardens. Don't forget to change the drier, or accumulator, not sure which one it uses, and the expansion device..Do not flush thru either of those, change them "after" the system is flushed..Sounds like a lot of work, because it will be to do it right.. But when you do it right, you'll do it once.. Check out ACKITS.COM for the parts you need.. Also in the Tips section is very good articles on flushing and recharging..Hope this helps..

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

saabtour on Tue June 23, 2009 6:40 PM User is offline

Thanks Chick, great advice. Just the kind of thing I need. Any idea where I may be able to find a diagram for the cooling system for this particular car? I checked for a Hayne’s manual but they don’t make one for this model. Also, how much time do I have at this point to flush the system? I’m not really going to have a great deal of time with work and all (I work two jobs) until the weekend. Since it’s already been over 24 hours, is flushing the system time critical at this point or do I have until the weekend to read up on things? Finally, getting the parts through ACKITS is the least I can do. Thanks again, looking forward to your reply, and hearing from anyone else who can give me a hand with this. John.

Chick on Tue June 23, 2009 6:52 PM User is offlineView users profile

How critical time is depends on the type sealer you used.. I would say you'll be fine til the weekend if it was the stuff they sell in the cans of refrigerant with O ring lube, but it really is impossible to say. Get it done as soon as you can. Once it clogs the condenser, you won't be able to save it.. Be sure to check the rear of the compressor for that high pressure relief valve, if they blow, you can usually just change it, any junkyard should be able to match it up from cores they have lying around..I do it for people all the time.. Yes, is the best online AC store there is, and I buy all my tools and supplies from them.. Honest people, and always ready to help you.. let us know how this job goes..

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

TRB on Tue June 23, 2009 6:54 PM User is offlineView users profile

As long s as you don;t open the system you can wait until the weekend. Reading your first post it does sound like you have a sealer related issue. But I'll also point out there are two types of sealers. One type will expand o-rings and while not something I want in my system is not really harmful. The second is the type the hardens when exposed to air/moisture. These types are the ones that can really create issues with a systems components.


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

saabtour on Tue June 23, 2009 8:25 PM User is offline

Thanks Chick. I'll keep you guys up to date on the disaster clean up.

saabtour on Tue June 23, 2009 8:28 PM User is offline

Thanks TRB. I'm not sure what type I used but I'll try to find the can tonight when I get home and post the name.

JJM on Tue June 23, 2009 11:36 PM User is offline

What happened is perfectly normal, and fairly typical with sealers.

Everything, and I mean everything, in the system MUST be replaced and this is not an overstatement by any means. If you attempt to salvage any component, you will decontaminate any new parts and end up with the same failure.

With almost any other type of system failure, some parts will remain salvageable, like the often difficult to get to evaporator. With a sealer associated failure, nothing is even remotely salvageable.

You can get everything you need from the parts, tools (at the best prices) and know-how from this site.


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

bohica2xo on Wed June 24, 2009 11:25 AM User is offline

Sounds like you need some new parts. I am guessing this is not a rust free california car. I have seen area you describe fail from road salt or debris on a regular basis. The lines are available as replacment parts, but if they are corroded you should replace the condensor as well, and have a hard look at the radiator.

If this was an OG 900 you could do it in an afternoon, but with the later ones you have some extra work.

The evaporator comes out the bottom of the dash on the passenger side. You need to remove the glove box, center console side panel & knee guard. Remove the floor air duct, and unbolt the A/T brain box (leave it plugged in). Fold down the carpet, remove the protective cover. Remove the nut on the freezestat.

Remove the end cover on the CCU. This cover is secured with clips that usually break off, and even the factory manual advises using screws to re-install the cover. (they sort of planned on this). Remove the TXV from the evaporator tubes. Carefully remove the freezestat. Pull the evaporator from the CCU.

The condensor replacment is not too bad. Remove the grille, horn, left turn signal, left headlight. Disconnect the pressure switches on the receiver. Unbolt & remove condensor.

Unfortunately, the "new" 900 used a Seiko rotary vane compressor. They are not cheap, and not particularly robust either.

How you proceed depends a LOT on exactly what you put in that system. Do you have the cans, or can you get the exact info (or picture) of same where you bought the stuff? If we can determine that you used the stuff that does NOT turn to concrete, you may not have killed the compressor.

It sounds like you were not monitoring the high side pressure when this happened. A proper manifold gauge set is necessary to work on this system. Unusual high pressures should have been handled by the HPCO.

All of the parts for that car are available. The site sponsor can get most (perhaps all) of what you need. I had to put a line set in my '88 SPG a couple of years ago, and it was still available.


"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.

saabtour on Thu June 25, 2009 6:55 PM User is offline

Thanks bohica. As per my response to TRB I'm trying to find the stuff I put in, I know the can is somewhere but I haven't been able to find it. I really appreciate your advice, so many of you have been very kind and - believe me - I really appreciate all your help. I'm going to try and do a little research on sealers to see if I can add a little something to your forum at some point in the future; it's the least I can do. Also, if anyone knows where I can find a schematic of the car's AC system (1995 Saab 900SE, 2.5 L. V6, new generation GM), PLEASE let me know; it would really help. John.

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