View Full Version : Replacement for R-12?

DopeStar 156
08-25-07, 12:10 PM
Apparently there's little or no refrigerant in my Fleetwood and I was wondering if it would be better to charge it with R12 or to do the R134a conversion? I found a place that has an R12 machine but I dunno if they're permitted to use it. Which is reccomended?

08-25-07, 12:26 PM
Apparently there's little or no refrigerant in my Fleetwood and I was wondering if it would be better to charge it with R12 or to do the R134a conversion? I found a place that has an R12 machine but I dunno if they're permitted to use it. Which is reccomended?

R12 ALL THE WAY MAN! I have R12 in my 89 Brougham and it kicks ass. When I rebuilt my a/c system in my 85 Fleetwood I had it charged with R134a and it is good but not as good as the R12.

08-25-07, 01:30 PM
I know this situation all too well, as I've dealt fully with both systems.

For an r-134a conversion, it might seem logical at first, but there's really no financial benefit, especially if your Brougham's AC has a few issues. I was naive and thought I'd have the AC converted in my Custom Cruiser when the r-12 AC was shot. BIG MISTAKE! - Even worse if you have a shop do it. For 134a you have to get all new hoses because the molecular structure of 134a is smaller and actually seeps through r-12 hoses. Then you have to get a new dryer, evapoator, and condenser, and most likely a new (k)ompressor. At least that was the case for me. The shop told me, and this is usually true, that the oils used to lubricate each system are incompatable with each other and therefore all components must be replaced. The shop really got me when they only told me about each part one at a time. They'd say "Well everybody knows you need this $300 part for it to work" about three times. Hence, it is extremely helpful to be knowledgable about ACs before you engage in any repair work.

If your AC is completely shot, full of leaks and bad components, then your best bat is to go to your local auto parts store and but the parts individually, install them yourself, (nothing harder than a radiator or water pump) And then pump it full of r-134a and oil. Or get r-12 from eBay for more jingle.

But if your AC still relatively competent, then take it to a shop to have the leak source stopped. Then go onto eBay and get a couple of r-12 cans and fill the system yourself. That's what I did - eBay has r-12 cans at about 1/3 the cost a shop will charge you. Shops will charge you about $100 per pound; ebay gots it for about $35.

Just remember to weigh out the costs - a bunch of r-12 may cost more than a retrofit.

r-134a Job:
1. fixed leaks - $120.00
2. new components - $500.00 (less if you do it yourself)
3. hoses - $80.00
4. refrigerent & oil - $80.00
5. System flush - $150.00 (if you keep r-12 components*)
*It may be cheaper to get new components than to flush r-12 ones.

TOTAL: $930.00 that was the cost of my retrofit, and still doesn't blow cold as r-12. Subtract about $250 if you do it yourself - still expensive.

r-12 Shop Job:
1. fixed leaks - $120.00
2. refrigerent - $450.00 (shop price)

TOTAL: $570.00 I'd estimate this to maintain a dry r-12 system.

r-12 eBay Job:
1. fixed leaks - $120.00 (go to shop)
2. refrigerent - $200.00 (get off eBay)

TOTAL: $320.00 This I think is the best bet.

Note: There's also this stuff on eBay called "freeze-12" that is supposedly compatable with r-12 and alot cheaper. I wouldn't trust it, but if you're bold go for it as it's the same cost as 134a.:yup: But shops won't use it for liability reasons.

Or you could be like the deep-pocked old ladies who go to the shop and get all new components AND r-12 AND get ripped and spend over $2K. I saw a lady do that once.

Just depends on the condition of the system and how rich you are. Good luck!


08-25-07, 01:57 PM
R12. The new stuff doesn't cool near as well.

DopeStar 156
08-25-07, 03:34 PM
See, I dunno if there's any leaks in the system per se but I do know from pushing on the valves that there is no refrigerant in the system. I know the compressor doesn't kick on, but I was told that it wouldn't if there was an absence of refrigerant. Where did the original R-12 go? Is it something that over time just disappears or did it have to leak out? Remember that this is a 1989 and R-12 was done away with in 1990 so it never had the chance to be recharged in it's lifetime. Would a 17 year old car's AC not work if it never had a recharge?

These are the things I need to know, to determine what steps to take to get it to snow in my car. It's 90 degrees outside and I could really use it......

08-25-07, 03:51 PM
If your luck you might have blew the fuse for the a/c compressor. If that is not the situation and you need to replace the compressor, you will also need to repalce the dryer, orfice tube, and the o-rings. Then you will have to have the system flushed and evacuated, then you can get some R-12 pumped in there. Yes R-12 is expensive, but remember, you get what you pay for...

Good luck.

08-25-07, 04:24 PM
If your AC has been working before, then your compressor is OK. It has an automatic shut-off sensor so it won't burn up if there's no refrigerent. I'm pretty sure your compressor is still good, as they don't lock up unless they've been sitting for a while. There's pistons in there, so the situation is similar to the engine of a car (in respect to it locking up). The only other reason you might have to replace the compressor is if the leak itself is coming from the compressor, say from a bad internal seal. But usually leaks occur on hoselines. And yes, right about this time (20ish years old) the refrigerent will have pretty much all naturally escaped. Refrigerent does just dissapear (seep out) over several years. Hence the need for a "recharge." But even after r-12 was discontinued from factory installment in 1993, it is still available for recharge at liscenced AC shops. So it could have been recharged after the r-12 kill date.

My 1990 Brougham had a perfect AC with no leaks, and it was low on r-12 simply because of 17 years of it seeping out. Think of it like a latex balloon. And how it just get smaller over time. A simple recharge may quite possibly do the trick. But if you experienced a sudden decrease in cooling to the point that your compressor is disengaged (as it is now), say in a two week period, then you might have a leak, which is an easy fix.

Whatever you do, don't mess with the compressor - you don't want it to start up and burn up. Just take it to the shop and ask them to test the AC system for leaks. If you have any, then they should apply the diagnosis charge toward the repair of the leaks. I'd estimate about $70 for the job, which they should apply toward a $100 fix.

But did your system suddenly stop cooling in less than 2 weeks? If so, then you probably have a minor leak, which is the aforementioned.

Or did your system just keep blowing cool air and less cool air over time? If so, then the refigerent has merely reached a low level. A recharge should do the trick. About $200 on a recharge at the shop is expectable, but if you buy the stuff of eBay, you can cut your costs in half.

Of course if you don't determine a leak status, your newly recharged r-12 may leak out. So I would recommend you detrmine that first, either using the time-table I mentioned or take it to the shop for the UV-light test, which you can do yourself but the equipment is a bit pricey.

Very rarely do compressors fail under a full system. In fact, about 90% percent of the time, you only replace AC components when your getting the 134a conversion, or if the car has been sitting for over 5 years. And your situation is neither. You don't need new stuff; you just need some more r-12. That's all.


DopeStar 156
08-26-07, 12:54 AM
Well, the AC has never worked since I bought the car a little over 3 years ago. I think the guy I bought it from mentioned it needing a recharge, but I dunno. The fuse is ok, I inspected it and there's no damage the air just has no refrigeration when I have it on the AUTO setting. The system was pretty much empty, I let the very last little bit out the other day when I pressed the valve inward to see if there was anything in there. I think I'll pay to have a leak check done and maybe a compressor test. Seems worth it......

08-27-07, 11:13 AM
Hmm, if it hasn't run in three years, then, yes, take her to a shop to get the details. Then come give us the prognosis here...before you spend any crazy amount of money.

But I do have to vouch for 134a. If the whole system needs to be fixed, then go ahead and get 134a refrigerent. You'll be set in the long run. And when charged properly, can be very chilling. Folks in the 3rd row of my station wagon complain about how cold she is, and that's 134a.

One other suggestion. Get a strong blower motor. Ten bucks at Auto Zone, and a stronger motor will increase the amount of air being cooled. Hence the cabin is cooled faster. I suggest getting the motor design to cool a bigger cabin...say, a wagon. You'll have a blizzard snow tornado in there! :thumbsup:


Highway Star
08-27-07, 12:29 PM
I was thinking about getting a can or two of R12 off Ebay to have on hand in the event my 79 needs some (cools ok, but could probably use a shot). Seems like all the Ebay sellers are requiring some kind of signed statement of resale. What the hell is that, and have any of you actually purchased any through Ebay? When I ask a shop around here they all freak out and say R12 doesn't exist. Maybe they think I'm with Homeland Security or something...:bigroll:

08-27-07, 03:01 PM
I don't know why the shops freak out, but they did the same thing when I asked. Their suppliers probably do the same thing to them. BUT...despite the halt of r12's production, there are individual sellers with an eye for a profit (Being as cans are about 10x their original store price). The r12 out there is simply the quickly-dwindeling backstock and forgotten supply of freon. I would estimate the supply of freon to triple in the next five years and be completely gone in ten. From then on it's either black-market freon from Mexico or 134a. So I suggest you stock up. There are a few 50lb cans out there for a grand or so.

It all started with the tree-hugger lobbiests up in Washington in the late 80s and early 90s. The first phase was a law requiring r12 only to be handled by licensed AC professionals, so to prevent careless venting of r12. This, I believe, was the "Clean Air Act of 1990." Then in 1993, it was completely abolished from new AC systems in new cars, presumably because production had ceased. However, I am unclear of when r12 production was completely halted. Then again, I'm sure there were plenty of reserves, like that which we're depleting. I mean, you still see re-treaded tires, and they were stopped around the same time, I think.

As for the certification, that's the law from 1990. But you can get certified online for about 20 bucks. But it is also lawful to possess r12 "with the intent to sell," which is a provision for profit-seekers. But I guess your intentions could change once you got it. Hmm..


DopeStar 156
09-03-07, 02:16 AM
I have another question....

Someone told me there's an R-12 equivilent on sale in auto parts stores. It's an imitation R-12 that can be used to successfully recharge an R-12 system. Anyone hear about this stuff? Any experience with it and would it be reccomended?

Highway Star
09-03-07, 09:12 AM
There's "Freeze 12" and "AutoFrost" brands. Have no experience with either. Searching the web may give you some info.

09-03-07, 01:44 PM
If you can afford it, get R-12. There's a shop around my way that has it, but it's expensive. $100 a pop! You can also do the R-134 conversion. It's been said that it doesn't work as well as R-12, but it's cheap.

09-03-07, 05:39 PM
The r12 replacement sounds like a good idea. I'd do it. That way you keep you original system w/o jeopardizing the expense of a bunch of freon. I have heard that it is somewhat more of a hazard, though.


09-21-07, 02:03 AM
I didn't realize the system took 4 1/2 lbs of freon, that's six 12oz. cans. Does anyone know of a shop that services r-12 in the Los Angeles area?

09-21-07, 05:54 AM
Freeze 12 is an R12 alternative. I've used it with tremendous success in multiple cars. It rocks my world.

Just add a can of Freeze 12 to your remaining charge of R12. No need to change compressor oil.

About $10 a can, available at some Autozones, local parts stores, and ebay.