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Air Conditioning Problem

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I have a 1997 Corolla with 110,000 miles on it, and never any major work needed. About a month ago, I turned on the air conditioning for the first time this year and it blew air, but it was warm. I went to my regular mechanic and he referred me to another one since he does not do A/C.


I went to the other one, and he looked it over and said "no gas," and attached a machine to it and ran a test. He filled it up with the refrigerant and charged me $80 plus tax for filling it. I asked him, "Was there a leak?" and he said, "I could find no leak." When I started it up, the A/C worked fine.


The next day I went on a 6-day road trip, and on day 2 I was in a hot area so I turned on the A/C and it blew but it was warm air again. This was approxmiately 48 hours after he had filled it. So apparently there is a leak in it, which takes up to 48 hours to drain all the gas.


I don't really want to go back to that guy, because if he could not find the leak the first time, he may not be able to find it at all. I only paid him for a filling, not for a repair. I am not able to do any repair or mechanical work myself. My questions are: what sort of mechanic should I look for and what should I expect to pay for finding and fixing a leak in the A/C system?


Thank you for your help.

Edited by bw92116

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Hello and welcome to the forum.


Go to a shop that specifically deals with HVAC systems in automobiles. Some larger dealerships also have techs that are trained in A/C diagnostics, some actually will contract work out to specific specialty shops, if they don't have inhouse techs. Most other garages/shops just recharge, but to properly diagnose the system, might take one with a bit more experience or a larger shop.


There are several ways to find leaks - cost will depend on what they find. Usually, you will have to cough up around $85 or more for a diagnostic fee - many times, if they find something, this fee will go toward the repair (ask the garage on what their policy is). Depending on what is specifically causing the problem - it could be a simple hose replacement or coupling fix + recharge. Might be around $100-$120. If it is something like a condensor - then you are looking at several hundreds of dollars + recharge. There are kits that you can by buy and try and diagnose yourself - most have a UV sensitive dye that they mix with the refrigerant and some come with a UV lamp to help track down those leaks - not hard to do and well with the reaches of even the most modest DIYer.


Disappointed, though, at the garage that charged your system. This stuff doesn't "wear out" - if the original diagnosis was no refrigerant - the shop should NOT have even filled it until they found the original leak. Otherwise, the gas will just run out. Might be able to go back and have them put in some more refrigerant for no charge or try and find the leak - as they goofed.

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The system may have to be pressurized to locate the leak.

That requires a shop familiar with A/C systems.

Once the leak is found and eliminated, it can be serviced with gas again.

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