Should I Top Off My 16 Year Old System?

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seagiant
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Should I Top Off My 16 Year Old System?

Post by seagiant »

Hi,
Bought my 2008 Honda Element, about 5 years ago, never had a problem, but...

Wondering if I should hook my Gauges up and look at the pressures?

What if any work was done on this System before I got it, I have no idea?
dasinc
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Re: Should I Top Off My 16 Year Old System?

Post by dasinc »

If the system is cooling well most people wouldn't give it a thought. It never hurts to check pressures because even though it may be cooling it may be running irregular pressures. If it's running high-high side pressure it could suggest that the area between the condenser and radiator needs to be cleaned out. Debris will accumulate there. Could save you a compressor replacement down the line.
freakyhead94
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Re: Should I Top Off My 16 Year Old System?

Post by freakyhead94 »

I had a 1998 Audi A4. My father gave it to me when he bought a new car after 20 years of owning it with 300000km on it. The AC was serviced 7 years before I got the car, when the compressor needed replacement due to a dead compressor clutch (which on this vehicle required a whole new compressor, thanks to Audi).

I gave it to an AC shop to do a service. 600g of the 750g R134A on the sticker were recovered by the machine..not bad after 7 years. After that, the AC worked for one day. Next day nothing. The shrader valves in the service fittings were then leaking and the complete charge was gone. Of course the service machine did not see this leak, because it was hooked up for testing it.

Replaced those, new orifice tube and another new charge of 750g..and man that new orifice and the missing 150g refrigerant made a BIG difference. Never had a car again with an AC that was so cold! It did work good before, but afterwards..perfect.

So in my opinion get the AC serviced, but just let them change the valves, they cost like nothing and the orifice is basically the same. Was about 10€. And then enjoy icecold AC.
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JohnHere
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Re: Should I Top Off My 16 Year Old System?

Post by JohnHere »

Remember that whenever you attach your Manifold Gauge Set (MGS) to a system, you lose some amount of refrigerant that (when you disconnect the MGS) remains in the hoses. How much depends on the length of the hoses, and also how much remains in the gauges and the manifold itself, if any.

With a compact car like your Honda Element, the A/C system holds only 18 ounces net weight when fully charged to specs. Testing the pressures every so often (I'm not certain how often you plan to test it), will reduce a full charge—not to mention a charge that has partially leaked out already—to where you start to have A/C performance problems due to refrigerant loss. Along with low refrigerant, you will also have low oil circulation, which compromises the "health" of the compressor.

If you think about "topping off" a system, you don't know how much refrigerant the system contains right now, and you can't gauge how much it contains by pressures. So you really don't know how much to put in. I never recommend "topping off" as a solution to a malfunctioning OEM system.

Instead, you should have a qualified A/C shop recover whatever refrigerant the system contains now. The shop's machine will record exactly how much refrigerant is recovered (so you can tell exactly how much it contained), along with a measurement of how much oil comes out. The same amount of oil can then be added back in, and the system evacuated and recharged to specs. Most machines will do all of this automatically.

But I do agree with the point made above. If you aren't having any problems with the system currently, I would leave it alone.
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Cusser
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Re: Should I Top Off My 16 Year Old System?

Post by Cusser »

JohnHere wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 6:16 pm But I do agree with the point made above. If you aren't having any problems with the system currently, I would leave it alone.
Disclaimer: I am NOT an AC professional.

I also agree that if you feel comfortable and cool, then the system is working fine, so do not attach gauges or "top off". Never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you.

I would clean off the surface of the condenser though, to get rid of any dead bugs or debris. If there's a cabin air filter on the car, maybe take a look at that too.
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