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Old 05-03-2015, 09:36 PM   #1
Rochester
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1995 SL1
Default Air conditioner question

How do I check whether or not I have enough refrigerant oil?

I have a very slow leak in the refrigerant itself, slow enough that I only need to refill the refrigerant once a year, in the springtime. This year, for the first time, I did it myself, using a can of refrigerant I got at Auto Zone. It's nice and cool now, but I wonder about the oil. How do I know if the oil is leaking? If it is low, how do I add more?

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Old 05-03-2015, 11:07 PM   #2
fdryer
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Default Re: Air conditioner question

If your system refills once a year and you're not interested in repairing this leak, you can continue doing this at your expense. There's no point in worrying about oil leaking if you're not concerned about correcting the leak. No one can tell you how much or how little oil leaks out along with refrigerant since no one can inspect your system on public message boards. You have to examine the entire system plumbing for oil markers, separate from engine oil. Refrigerant oil circulates throughout the entire a/c system in a continuous cycle, returning to the compressor for lubrication. If you have no familiarity with a/c inspection procedures, Google for procedures on how to find a/c system oil leaks with images of typical places; compressor fittings, case, hose fittings, condenser coil, receiver/drier, etc.. An inexpensive uv blacklight will illuminate dye that leaks out with oil to mark the leak site. Dye is greenish yellow. For examples of a leak, look in my photo album.

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Old 05-05-2015, 12:49 AM   #3
Rochester
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Air conditioner question

I'd like to repair the leak, but it's beyond my skill level, and the guy at the shop said the leak was in the... condenser? compressor? I forget, it's been two years... and will not be a cheap fix.

Maybe after I finish paying off that new clutch I just had installed.

If I'm leaking only refrigerant, a can of refrigerant once a year is not too high a price to pay for comfort. But if I'm losing oil too, then the thing will burn up eventually and destroy my drive belt when it does so. Then I'll have to get it fixed, or slap on a shorter belt to bypass it and drive without air (being heat-sensitive, the former is surely the lesser evil.)

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Old 05-05-2015, 11:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Air conditioner question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rochester View Post
I'd like to repair the leak, but it's beyond my skill level, . . . I forget, it's been two years... and will not be a cheap fix.
You just need to increase your skill level

When people say, "beyond my skill level," what they really mean is, "knowledge level and comfort zone"

The knowledge is out there (and here) for free. I recently replaced an AC evaporator for the first time on my minivan, had never done that before. Found some 'how to's' on a forum, at each step, I numbered and labeled an index card, put it with all the associated bolts and screws into a zip-loc baggie. Makes it easy to keep track of things.

It's always going to be a choice between DIY and paying someone else. The latter is expensive.

Quote:
If I'm leaking only refrigerant, a can of refrigerant once a year is not too high a price to pay for comfort. But if I'm losing oil too, then the thing will burn up eventually and destroy my drive belt when it does so.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Refrigerant oil circulates throughout the entire a/c system in a continuous cycle, returning to the compressor for lubrication.
The compressor that is being lubricated? Think it runs about $100 or so. The refrigerant carries the lubricating AC oil around the system.


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Old 05-08-2015, 07:29 PM   #5
ngrome
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Default Re: Air conditioner question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rochester View Post
I'd like to repair the leak, but it's beyond my skill level, and the guy at the shop said the leak was in the... condenser? compressor? I forget, it's been two years... and will not be a cheap fix.

Maybe after I finish paying off that new clutch I just had installed.

If I'm leaking only refrigerant, a can of refrigerant once a year is not too high a price to pay for comfort. But if I'm losing oil too, then the thing will burn up eventually and destroy my drive belt when it does so. Then I'll have to get it fixed, or slap on a shorter belt to bypass it and drive without air (being heat-sensitive, the former is surely the lesser evil.)
You can buy cans of refrigerant with oil in them, but you have to be careful you don't overfill the system. You can use those gauges that come with the refrigerant cans, but it will not be the most accurate nor best way as some purists will say here (no offense meant, they just want you to get it right), may get you through a year, or maybe a summer, at best, then you'll have to go through it again unless you get the leak detected and have the system sealed and re-filled.

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