Engine Size: 4.0L
Refrigerant Type: R134
Country of Origin: United States
I am attempting to assist a disabled young lady to get the AC working on a 1990 Ford Aerostar van that was gifted to her by her church so as to enable her caregivers to use it in transporting her to medical appintments in her wheelchair.
I converted the AC system in the van from R12 to R134, using a kit purchased from Walmart for about $30. A friend who is a DIY weekend mechanic checked to see if there was any remaining R12 in the system, and it appeared to be empty. The AC had not been used in several years. In filling the sytem with R134, the can used for filling had a gauge on it that shows the amount of R134 being pumped into the sytem. After only about 1/2 of the can of R134 was pumped into the system, the gauge on the can said it was full. However, upon starting the vehicle and turning the AC on, it pumped warm air out at a fairly low velocity ... less than I would have expected from the AC system on a van of that size. I asked my mechanic friend if the engine and AC should have been running during the process of pumping R134 into the system, and he said it probably wouldn't have mattered but that the system should have taken way more than 1/2 a can of R134. I waited till the next day, then tried to pump more R134 into the system, but the gauge on the can still said it was full and the system is still blowing warm air.
Can anyone suggest what might be wrong here and what I might do to rectify the problem?
Edited: Thu May 20, 2010 at 3:07 PM by jaycousa
To be as polite as possible. There are some many things going wrong here it hard to find a place to start. The walmart kit is a very poor way of charging your a/c. System must be evacuated before charging or you will induce moisture and/or air in the system. Aerostar's have compressor & debris issues. First thing I would do is check the orifice tube for debris. Is the compressor clutch even coming on?
Thank you for your input, and yes there is much more to know about these things than I am aware of as a layperson with no expertise in auto air conditioning matters.
In answer to your question, the compressor clutch is coming on, it isn't making any funny noises and the belt seems to be fine. What we are trying to accomplish is to help the young lady in question without it costing her very much because she is 100% disabled, has a very small monthly SSi income and lives in subsidized housing. Her income doesn't even cover her basic living expenses, and she was cautioned to be wary of taking the vehicle to a repair shop because of the likelihood of being told that hundreds of dollars in parts and labor would be necessary to get it working. I don't personally know this to be true, but was told that auto AC is one of the areas where consumers are most frequently taken advantage of.
If the system is OK and you induced R134a in a R12 system. Many things can happen which could cause a major failure. As I stated there a a few steps I would do first before going any further. Bottom line is even with the Walmart special gauge, it's not taking refrigerant. Does the system have a restriction or is the walmart kit just junk? Is the compressor shaft snapped so while the pulley is turning the internals of the compressor? Only way to tell this in my opinion is with a proper set of gauges & checking the orifice tube.
As for the a/c industry being a bunch of crooks. Not anymore then the next industry. You just need to find the proper shop if that is a path you choose. But be aware just because someone low balls a repair. Does not mean you are getting a good return on your dollar.
The poor airflow from the vents could be a mouse nest, leaves, etc. in the ductwork or a problem with the air control system in the cab (which selects floor, defrost, etc.). That should be resolved first before you even get to why the air is not cold. Often you can pull the blower motor/fan assembly and have a look at the evaporator and some of the ducts.
If you want to work on the refrigeration system yourself you will need to invest in some tools and knowledge. There is no easy $30 fix in a box. If you want it to last even one summer, you're going to need to do it right. Even at reputable shops, A/C repairs tend to be expensive because they are. Like other parts of the car, doing it yourself cuts the labor cost to zero, but only if done right so you don't have to pay someone even bigger money to redo it. The absolute minimum conversion involves a new accumulator drier, good adapter fittings (not the leaky ones that come in the kit), orifice tube, and some ester oil, probably about $60 altogether for parts. If you need a new compressor (and it seems likely) that's well into 3 figures just for parts. If you see "FX15" on the compressor label, get ready to replace it for sure. That model was a total lemon that certainly isn't going to hold up as a conversion.
Projects like this van are an example of what I call "the high cost of free stuff".
Edited: Thu May 20, 2010 at 6:59 PM by mk378
These Fords are known to catch on fire due to leaves getting into the ductwork at the evaporator. The blower motor resistor gets hot and starts the fire. One symptom that there are leaves and other crap in there is reduceed airflow out of the ducts. As mk states, get the airflow problem resolved first. I can understand your wanting to save her money and complement you for that. Another option you may explore is taking this problem to your vocational high school. They may have an automotive class that can help on this. Most only charge for parts and that is discounted.
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