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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, so about 1500 miles ago I brought 94 Geo Tracker in to get an oil change at a Valvoline Instant Oil Change location. They made a note that my AC refrigerant needed to be recharged. So fast forward to this week, I noticed my AC isn't blowing as cold as last year. I haven't really used AC all year just because it hasn't been that hot. Anyway, I went back to the location this morning hoping to get it recharged and the guy indicated my car "may" be still using the R12 refrigerant.

So now what do I do? Here is my thought process ...

1) How do I confirm if I'm using R12? I also read that it is possible R134A is being used.

2) I see I can still buy R12 freon. Can I then take that to my mechanic and he can recharge it for me?

3) Regardless of R12 or R134A, how much do I need to get?

4) I randomly saw this. What do you guys think?

5) If I want to convert to R134A compatible system, what do I have to do, what parts, and cost?

Thanks for the advice in advance.
 

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My 1994 Tracker FSM says you use R-134a not R-12. Should be a sticker under the hood. You should probably take it to a shop specializing in automotive HVAC.
 

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First off, if low on freon, you have a leak. :(

You can't tell if there is R-12 in there with 100% accuracy but IF re-fitted for R-134A, they should have added the fitting adapters to the lines for the larger R-134 connections and placed an R-134 change "sticker" under the hood noting same.

I'd assume it has R-12 in it if the fittings are original (small size), but I wouldn't spend the VERY high $'s to use R-12 on a suspect (leaking) system.

I'd retro fit it to R-134. The only thing you need are the adaptive hose connection fitting and (max) two 12 of can's of R-134 from Wally World. You'll only have to evacuate (vacuum pump needed) the system then re-charge using reefer gauges to get the charge correct.
 

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The $25 dollar hose/gauge/can you buy at Walmart is a "stab in the dark" to fix the problem, but sometimes works. If you start the car and turn the AC on HI you should hear the compressor coming on and off. If it is low on Charge, the compressor will kick on and off rapidly (short cycling) and is generally a sign of low charge. I live in Mid-Michigan, where AC is required about 30 total days a year (some days in June-July-August) and have had success taking the low side cap off, squeezing the trigger and filling into the green on the gauge. On a Dodge Dakota I had, putting 1/2 can in would keep it blowing cold for a month/6 weeks. In Michigan, one can would get me through the summer. HOWEVER, if you are putting R-134 or R-12 in, that means it is LEAKING OUT, which is bad for the enviro, and expensive if you need to refill all the time. If you have money, keep it fixed at a shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good news. I opened the hood, looked around for a sticker, found one and it does say R-134a on it. I guess that's that then.
 

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Good news. I opened the hood, looked around for a sticker, found one and it does say R-134a on it. I guess that's that then.
Me thinks they were tryin to pick your pockets for a conversion thinkin you'd never know the difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Me thinks they were tryin to pick your pockets for a conversion thinkin you'd never know the difference.
Nah, Valvoline Instant Oil Change doesn't do conversion. Someone else would have to do it. Luckily, I don't have to worry about that now.
 

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5) If I want to convert to R134A compatible system, what do I have to do, what parts, and cost?

Thanks for the advice in advance.
My 89 tracker uses R12. I want to convert but i guess I could have a leak, given that it worked last year, but not this year. I'm not sure how to tell if the compressor is running or not....

and.... if I simply evacuate the current stuff (using a pump with fittings from harbor freight and a compressor) and try to replace with 134a, will the stop leak it says it contains fix any leaks or what? I cannot find anyone that works on older ac systems where I live.
 

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Stop-Leak additives only occasionally help on the smallest of leaks (plumping up "O" rings is about all it does). It won't fix normal leaks, repair cracked hoses or rejuvenate the compressor mechanical seal.
 

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thanks! I'm going to get the pump to remove the existing stuff and this kit... some questions:

If before I pump out the existing R12 freon, can I attach the can per the video and see the existing pressure?

Or does that somehow ruin the 134a can of refrigerant? I was thinking it would tell me if it is low (meaning there could be a leak that needs fixing before converting) or if not low, then that something else isn't working properly.

I am thinking that in either case of low freon or not, I will go ahead with the change to R-134a...
 

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You can in all likelihood attach the gauge adapter and read existing system pressure, but that won't tell you anything on a NON-compressor running system. :(

2 ounces of freon exerts the same pressure as 2 pounds of freon in its (same temperature) static state.

Once the system is running, a low charge condition will THEN be obvious on the low-side portion of the system, as in if there is insufficient total freon charge volume, the low side pressure will exhibit below the 25-30 PSI norm. Or if much lower that that, the compressor simply won't engage (the low pressure switch opens).

You should really get the system troubleshot with the prober tools and supporting expertise first, if you are in doubt as to the REASON for the A/C problem that you have.
 

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When you have the old freon pumped out, he should be able to tell you if you have leaks which you likely do if low.

fwiw - I have had good luck when simply snugging up any connections in the lines I can get to.
 

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Be aware that using 134 in a system designed for 12 may disappoint. I have not tried it in a Suzuki but in a handful of other vehicles and each time the AC was less able to keep up on the blistering days.

If you go to 134 and are disappointed you can always go back to 12. The easiest way to check for a leak is to take it to an HVAC shop and have them pull a vacuum on it for awhile to make sure it holds, then have them recharge it. In my experience you will be happier with the 12 if thats what it came with from the factory. The explanation I got from an AC guy much wiser than myself was that the 134 requires a larger capacity system to work properly r/t properties of the refrigerant, and works great with the 134 systems but going backwards into a 12 system may not afford the capacity for the 134 to operate as intended.

If 134 is working well in the earlier Kicks under extreme ambient temps I hope someone will chime in and provide their experience. My experience is once the temps go past 90 its not as chilly as I had hoped.

When I converted to 134 before I replaced all O rings with the green high density ones, I left those in place when converting back to 12 with no problems.
 

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I've observed personally and from what has been written by other posters that Suzuki A/C performance is only marginal to good. At least in the vehicles in the + ten years old range. I can not attest to the latest models. I HAVE owned three ten year old (bought new and traded) Honda's, and their A/C's performed admirably from day one, so draw your own conclusions.

Is Suzuki's lackluster A/C performance in older vehicles attributed to normal wear and tear, condenser and evaporator no longer in pristine cleanliness conditions, insulation and cabin air door seals breaking down? Maybe. :huh: Or are the systems only adequate performers from the get-go? I choose the latter.

Anyway, vacuum testing for leaks is a gamble. Yes it will indicate a general large leak condition, but will do little in pinpointing the area of leak. Additionally, most leaks won't ID themselves in a 28" vacuum, but present clearly with PRESSURE applied. Leaking add-on gauges, their hoses, and fitting connections ADD to the mystique as to where a system under vacuum is leaking as well.

Also, shops would rather not have a vehicle sitting prolonged in their bay, system under a vacuum, taking up valuable space. It isn't cost effective. On top of that, should the vacuum drop off, then it's "Yes, you have a leak, but we don't know where it is" which necessitates further charging and detection with the appropriate freon leak test equipment (an electronic Halide leak detector). Either that, or swapping out costly parts on a leak suspected part Easter Egg hunt. :rolleyes: More time and $ on a now hostage vehicle that you need for transportation.

R-134a is as good a performing freon as any. The trouble is that the characteristics of R-134a require a larger condensing medium to achieve optimal results. Retrofitting using the original capacity R-12 condenser won't lend to that need, thus a small degradation in cooling capability will be evident.

My (45 years of refrigeration and A/C experience) input on the whole subject anyways.
 

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Much more experience than I have! Now that I need (want like hell) AC I feel it should work in any reasonable temps. I have owned many older Mercedes Benz vehicles with the chief complaint among many being AC performance (and reliability), even in perfect working order they pretty much suck. Finding fault with a Honda is very difficult, IMHO the best cars on the road at any price, an excellent choice by any standards.

What lots of folks were doing is charging with LP or LP/Butane blends, I never had the balls to do it but I have witnessed that it does work admirably well. Flammable and junk refrigerants have always been a very touchy subject I know. I have only had maybe 10 vehicles where I cared about the AC enough to make sure it works right. The shop I used to use said that if it holds vacuum for 10 minutes it will likely hold the juice, others want to leave the vacuum on overnight. In my limited experience 10-15 minutes vacuum and the system stayed charged the 1-2 years I tend to keep vehicles. I realize minute leaks may exist that a few minutes of vacuum wont reveal. I have probably been lucky so far.

If you have 45 years of experience and I have only been alive for 45 years it would make sense for me to learn from your experience rather than challenge it, right haha. I do know that each time I used 134 on an older r12 system I ended up not being happy enough to keep it in place. I do believe in regions with milder summers it might go unnoticed.

So as it pertains to the Suzuki vehicles with already marginal AC systems, would you on your own older Zuki use 134 or stick with R12 if you were going on a mid-summer cruise through Arazona?

Also if you had to make any mods/adjustments to your AC to make it work better, other than refrigerant, what would that be? Any other ways to enhance the system to adequate performance?
 

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So as it pertains to the Suzuki vehicles with already marginal AC systems, would you on your own older Zuki use 134 or stick with R12 if you were going on a mid-summer cruise through Arazona?
Good question! :)

In my situation I have access to R-12 and all of the reefer tools, shop area etc to support the maintenance needs of the current older systems. But on the other hand, I DID retro my '72 Nova to R-134a, replaced the hoses w/Teflon barrier new, replaced the drier and changed to PAG oil. :rolleyes: So in other words, I'm not opposed to switching.

If I was in the OP's shoes (little experience, problems of unknown origin, probably not desiring to spend the big bucks for R-12, quite possibly has a leaking system) but wanting to attempt a DIY charge / change over Professional Mechanic repairs....then yeah, it would be worth a gamble. But in this case the problem may not even BE the charge and money not well spent.

Even the Arizona heat trip doesn't scare me all that much. In the Zuki I'd be comfortable enough. It sure beats the crap out of NO A/C! :D Been there, done that too!

Or as the two Polish Astronauts were heard discussing..."Let's go to the sun! You can't do that (said the other), we'll burn up! No, said his partner. We'll travel at night."
 

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Good answer!

I'm in the middle of doing my own AC so have been keeping up on all these threads. Mine isnt even as good as a Sidekick, I have the Samurai system with a Sidekick compressor and a really angry aftermarket condenser fan, needless to say my expectations are not real lofty, especially since the vehicle is a black/black ragtop but I am determined to get it up to adequate by (almost) any means necessary. I'm having my lines made up now then I should be able to vac, charge, test, hope like hell.

I normally tour by motorcycle, no AC with a full face lid and heavy kevlar/leather jacket so I'm ok without but for day to day driving I have come to appreciate it.

What would be a reasonable cost for someone like the OP to have it assessed for function and leaks at a shop? I really do like the DIY approach but at what point does it become more cost effective to find a trusted pro?
 

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What would be a reasonable cost for someone like the OP to have it assessed for function and leaks at a shop? I really do like the DIY approach but at what point does it become more cost effective to find a trusted pro?
I've observed local Automotive Business establishments offering "Free A/C system testing" (with hopes of follow-on repair work at appropriate pricing of course). :rolleyes:

That might be an ideal situation for the OP in order to acquire some free diagnostics.

Another slim avenue chance of success is to post here and hope to find local hands-on member assistance. Strange (or lucky) as that may sound, I did just that several days ago with this fellow. He turned out to be a local Firefighter AND a coworker of a long time Navy buddy of mine!

http://www.suzuki-forums.com/2g-2007-xl7/127570-2007-xl7-c-problem.html

Him and his family are now Zuki chillin' in style (I hope) with the addition of 12 oz of R-134a, and he is now aware of a follow-on probable small condenser joint leak repair need.

The other options for the OP is friends w/tools n' talent or a good local A/C shop referral from a trusted source.
 

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I find the AC in my sport-kick to be pretty powerful. after a bit it will blow 40 at the vents. i think the part that brings them down to "adequate" is the fact that sidekicks are basically greenhouses on wheels (huge windows and no tint). although i do have to say the AC systems in these vehicles is a bit of an afterthought (the fact that the AC doesn't come on when you set the heater to defog is one of them)
 

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The 95 Kick I pulled the compressor out of would move a hell of a lot of air with the fan on full blast. For the small interior size I cant imagine it would be any less than decent with vent temps around 40.
 
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