: Is R134 cheap and nasty?

10-21-08, 02:41 PM
I've had a look throught he archives and it seems to me that for the older 1970's cars the newer R134a just isn't doing the job. The manuals all say to use only R12 but I understand you can no longer use R12? If one has to use R134a on these older cars do all the other components (eg hoses, compressor etc) have to be replaced? I've read that the R134a doesn't work as well with the older systems and that even if you do replace all the other components the "coldness" of the AC still isn't the same as R12, so basically it seems to me that we're stuck with some less effective, more costly, less reliable substitute for R12 (another fine mess the hippies have gotten us into)Am I about right on this or is there something i've left out?

10-21-08, 03:05 PM
well the r12 is much colder. i just converted my 89 fwb to r134. its not that bad, not freezing cold. going down the highway you will need to turn the air down. i replaced the compressor and accumilator.

some shops still carry r12, thats your best bet. just call and ask around.

10-21-08, 05:21 PM

10-21-08, 05:57 PM
I recommend a refrigerant called duracool (http://www.duracool.com/) It gets colder then the R-12 system, and puts less work on the system because it has oil mixed into the gas. Also, I don't know about nowadays, but when I last brought it about 4 years ago it was much cheaper then R-12.

10-21-08, 05:59 PM
I've also heard that the CFC-free refrigerant doesn't get as cold as Freon does. btw, in case anyone is curious as to when they switched to the CFC-free kind... it was for most if not all in 1994.

Cadillac Giovanni
10-21-08, 07:49 PM
Check on ebay. Some people sell whole 30 lb. cans of the stuff. as long as you agree not to try and put the stuff in yourself, everyone seems to look the other way.

10-21-08, 08:45 PM
Duracool works great for me, but take care not to overfill the system, it will blow less colder air...

It's better to use just a bit less than maximum refrigerent capacity. You can mix it with the R12 (even that instructions says to completely flush the system prior to use).

There are other equivalent brands (RedTek, Freeze12, and others), but basicaly it is made for a more pure propane and some aditives.

It is not expensive. Here in Canada you can buy a kit (two cans, hoses, pressure gauge, adapters, etc) for about 50 bucks. It takes 3.2 cans to completely replace the R12 on a 88 FWB.

10-21-08, 11:34 PM
Go with freeze-12. 134a doesn't blow as cool, and the molecules are smaller. So they leak out of all the old equipment. It works okay in 134a factory cars but not really for conversions. freeze-12 is fully compatible with the old r12 equipment, and can even be dumped on top of existing r12. (though it says not to. ;)) And it's about $9 a can, and legal to own.

And it blows colder than r12. Good luck! :thumbsup:

10-26-08, 01:08 PM
I see a few things that need commenting here.

There is no difference in reliability. We're talking about refrigerant. The system itself is whats reliable or not.

My 89 STS has been converted to R134 and it's fine. You can't just fill an R12 system with R134 and expect it to be the same. The conversion is mostly fittings and a few seals maybe.

Not a big deal and definitely a lot cheaper than R12. I don't know why you say more costly.

I'll have to look into this Freeze12 stuff :)

10-27-08, 07:19 AM
Be very careful about using "drop in" substitute refrigerants.

If you came in with freeze 12 in your system and contaminated my equipment I'd be slightly irritated to say the least.
I may not remember properly but from a professional standpoint I think I have heard some bad things about freeze 12.
Probably not things that some guy trying to save money and get is a/c system working would care about but your car may have to be fixed again someday and doing things as a down and dirty quick fix often cause bigger problems later on.

10-27-08, 08:11 AM
Thanks good points. I guess the consumer assumes that there's no problem there. But I see what you're saying.

I wonder how it could be bad? Bad for the system you mean? I should really learn more about the chemicals involved here. It's something I don't know a whole lot about.

Why would it even cause a problem for a shop if it's supposedly completely compatible?

The Brougham will get converted to 134a this coming summer

10-27-08, 01:09 PM
The Brougham will get converted to 134a this coming summer

I am doing that this spring on my Fleetwood too. I had it charged with Freeze 12 and it worked great but I still had a leak somewhere. Every month or so I had to add another can. A few months ago the clutch finally gave out and seized up. Its the original compressor though, so it would happen sometime or later. I am just going to have it done right and get the leak fixed too.

11-01-08, 02:15 AM
Well I finally took it to an air conditioning guy today and he reckons it will be ok on R134a without having to do any special conversions. (R12 is illegal here in New Zealand) So he started charging it with r134 and it did start blowing nice and cold and compressor was going but then it started going warm. The cause of this was found to be a blockage in the VIR area, the pipe that should be going warm was going cold and vice versa. The gentleman believes my system has a very slow leak so slow in fact that its not worth worrying about. (the car had been sitting in a Calfironia warehouse for some time with no AC use and there was still some refrigerant in the system when he tested it) So I've taken the car home and removed the VIR unit and have ordered a new one on Ebay, it has something called a dessicant bag in it which is brown and soggy (not sure if its meant to belike that though) So according to the air conditionist once the bag is replaced/cleaned that should take care of the blockage and all it will need is a recharge, he is of course going to add some UV Dye in order to spot leaks if and when they occur. The best part of course is that a recharge wilk only cost the equivalent of about US$62 which is certainly less than I thought, but the real surprise was him saying that the existing hoses etc will be ok with R134a.

11-01-08, 02:41 AM
One of the main things to worry about in the case of leaks and conversions is o-rings. When a car sits without its AC run, the o-rings tend to dry out thus resulting in leaks. This is a concern regarding recharges, and new refrigerant may seep out. But if it's slow enough then you're in good shape. And you're right, you don't have to change any equipment to run r-134a. Some shops try to rip you, and say you do. I learned the hard way. But it sounds like you're in good hands and not too much work is needed.

But if you ever go into the system and work on parts (replacing, repairing, flushing, etc.) it's a good idea to replace the o-rings and/or lubricate them with the appropriate compressor oil. This will stave off the majority of leaks.


11-01-08, 07:12 AM
There was some initial concern about o-rings on conversion, but most have found that if a connection is not disturbed it is likely to be okay. Trying to replace o-rings, particularly ones on older systems, that aren't leaking can lead to bigger problems. If you have the will and the means, then you should do it. Over the years all the conversions I have done have held up nicely by replacing the seals that had to be removed to fix the leaking component.

Be sure to remind whoever does it to use mineral oil only on the o-rings.
R134a systems require PAG oil, but PAG must not be used to lubricate the new seals or it will accelerate their demise.
You should use an older mineral based refrigerant oil to lube the seals on installation and use PAG oil in the system.

The issues with drop-ins is that some of them are dangerous, and cross contamination of equipment.
If I have a machine that processes R12 and I am doing that and someone put something else in their car then brings it to me without proper labeling or changing fittings now my machine is contaminated and everyone after you may suffer degraded system performance.
By law you cannot change the type of refrigerant without proper labeling and changing the fittings to prevent such cross contamination of service equipment.

Not to mention, some things that work good as refrigerants are volatile, unsafe, and can post threats to health and safety even though they work great.

11-04-08, 08:24 PM
Where is the orifice tube? The FSM doesn't even use this word let aLone say where it is. Is the orifice tube something that would need to be replaced whenever the dessicant bag is replaced?

11-05-08, 06:37 AM
If you have a VIR setup on the car, there is no orifice tube.
There are some shuttle valves inside the VIR assembly that control refrigerant flow.
It was one of the most unnecessarily complicated devices I have ever seen on a car. My old Buick had one.
They make rebuild kits that come with a new desiccant bag and all the seals you'll need.
You can usually buy a rebuilt VIR and just install it in place of the old one.
I got a reman one and fixed my thermal fuse on the compressor and my Buick did pretty well after that up until it was out of my possession.

11-22-08, 01:40 PM
Well yesterday I had it done, new VIR unit installed, white spirits squirted in to blast out traces of dust and and old R12, then it was charged with R134a, UV dye to detect leaks and new oil and O rings on the VIR connections. It wasn't a hot day just kinda "normal" not hot or cold but it blew nice and cold. We put a thermometer in the vents and the discharge temperature go as low as 11 degress celsius and hovered around the 13/14 degree mark for a while (low 50's in farenheit) and this was with the engine idling on a day that wasn't hot! Althought when i held the revs up thats when it dropped to 11, so far so good, just waiting for a real hot day now (its summer here in NZ) to give it a good test.