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Reliant Needs To Chill

Q. I have a 1989 Plymouth Reliant that was recycling clutch, I knew that it was low on R-12. I took the car to a repairman, since I do not have proper tools to repair. The mechanic(?) said it was low on R-12, he charged me for 2.8 lbs of R-12. I asked him if he found the leak, and if he repaired it. His comment was it is such a small leak that it would be impossible to find.

I took the car, but two days later it was not cooling again. So I took it back. He said the problem was the discharge hose leaking. I need to replace the discharge hose. The price he quoted me was 400.00. for hose and labor. I went to the local Auto Zone and purchased both suction and discharge hose.

I felt since the system was open he should also replace the dryer, and expansion valve. So I also purchased these to put on. My question is; what would be the shop time to put these items on and to recharge the system. I think 3.4 hours labor is a little steep. Also the system is still not cooling properly what else is there to check out?

A. When you said; "The mechanic?" The first question that popped into my mind was; did you take this to a shop or some guy working out of his garage?

Any time a car comes into my shop with no freon in the system I check for leaks. I check that system over with a fine tooth comb for any problems. This way I can give an accurate estimate and there will be no surprises later. He said the leak was so small it would be impossible to find. How did he know if he didn't check? If it leaked out in two days, I would say that is a significant leak. If he had, indeed, checked the first time he would have found the leak and there wouldn't be another 2.8 pounds of R-12 depleting our ozone layer and you wouldn't be writing to me. In fact, it is against Federal law to just add freon to a system without locating and repairing any leaks.

3.4 hours labor is not unreasonable. It'll take about 1.5 to 2.0 hours to replace the parts, 1.0 to evacuate and recharge and then performance test is about another .5

"Cooling properly" is a very subjective term. Here is how to accurately test the cooling performance of an A/C system. Park the car in a shady area out of direct sunlight. Turn the A/C on and put it in the recirculation mode. Fan switch on low and engine at 2000 rpm. Put a thermometer in the center dash vent and read the temperature. It should be at least 20 degrees cooler than the outside air. The coldest I ever got an A/C to deliver is 15 degrees out of the vent. Average discharge temperature is about 40 to 45 degrees.

Anything else to check? You've pretty much replaced all the components so the thing I would make sure of is that he gives it a good long evacuation. At least 30 minutes. This is critical to proper system performance because it will dry out all the moisture in the system. By the way, good move on replacing both hoses. It has been my experience with Chrysler products that soon after replacing the high pressure line, the low pressure line will begin to leak.

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