Leaking A/C System

Joined
Mar 28, 2003
Messages
1,457
Location
Somewhere in NJ
 
 
Several weeks ago, I discovered my A/C system was without refrigerant. I figured maybe it was just a slow leak after running it for about 9 years now, so I charged it back up and it was working fine. Fast forward to today, and again I find the A/C not working and next to no charge (like 25psi on the high side).

When I put the refrigerant in last time, I also added a can of leak detector (fluorescent dye), but found no leaks in the system right away. Today, I started to poke around with the blacklight looking for signs, and again found none, except for a small amount of glow on the leading edge of the condensor fins just behind the oil cooler and on DS edge. I am still wondering if this represents the dye or just some old salts that got in there and didn't get cleaned out well, yet glow a bit under blacklight. Other than that, I find no dye anywhere I'm able to get to with the light.

So my question to you in the know is: does what I see on the condensor seem like what a leak would look like? Are there any other likely areas I should be investigating?
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2003
Messages
1,457
Location
Somewhere in NJ
 
 
Tucker - I have not removed the cooling unit to get at the evaporator, but I didn't see any signs of leakage at the fittings on the firewall leading into the cooling unit. I really don't want it to be the evaporator...:crybaby:
 

e9999

You want to do what...?
Moderator
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
17,126
Location
US
 
 
 
the refrigerant is gaseous at atmospheric pressure. I would think that you would see dye mostly if the oil is leaking as well, cuz the dye would come out readily with the oil, maybe less so with the refrig (?). Perhaps you have a leak on a high point where is little or no oil? (WAG)
or your dye is not working?
or the dye is all under the carpet...?
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2003
Messages
9,014
 
 
 
Tom

I recently used a UV dye/light/glasses with good success. It's the extent of my experience, but I'm wondering if a blacklight is the same thing?? In other words, a black light is not very directional (you're holding a bulb vs a focused beam) and I'm uncertain it will work on UV dye. Plus you are apparently using the naked eye, not any goggles/glasses?

Also, if you find it is the right side of the condensor where the metal line connects, PM me and I'll tell you how I replaced the O ring there for free and ignored the dealer's dire prediction and $750 estimate....

DougM
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2003
Messages
1,457
Location
Somewhere in NJ
 
 
e - I'm seeing next to nothing, and what I do see does not convince me that it's the dye I put in (as the refrigerant leaks out, it will immediately evaporate leaving the telltail dye behind). There's certainly not enough of it to convince me. If it was leaking oil, I should still see the dye from where that leaked.


Doug,

I'm using one of those Autozone flexible UV lights with the snazzy yellow plastic glasses--they're all the rage around here:D I think it's the same one you have.

It's tough to really cover the condersor well with the oil cooler and grill in the way, and I can't get to the back of it without pulling it or the radiator. But I didn't see any dye at the connections. Nor at the receiver/dryer, nor at the firewall where it goes to the evaporator. Also no leaks/dye around the compressor. It's obviously gone somewhere and I'd imagine that if the entire charge has leaked out, there should be a lot of dye somewhere. I'm thinking about pulling the cooling unit as Tucker suggested, but am not real anxious to do that right away, just on suspicion.
 

LandCruiserPhil

Peter Pan Syndrome
Supporting Vendor
Joined
Mar 10, 2004
Messages
24,813
Location
Scottsdale Arizona
 
 
 
Tom if you are not sure if the dye is old try pressurizing the system with air and use soap and water in a spray bottle. Also hook your gauges up and see how fast the pressure drops to help determine how big of a leak you are dealing with.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2003
Messages
1,457
Location
Somewhere in NJ
 
 
Thanks Phil. Funny you should mention that since I was doing just that to my Honda a couple of days ago, though with the size of the hole in the Honda, I could hear it escaping:eek: Ever notice how when you have a problem with one of your cars, they all develop the exact same problem!:mad:

The dye was only several weeks old so I think it should have been okay still; actually didn't know it had a usable life. But I didn't spray things down with soap, so I should try that. May not see much since it took several weeks for it to get this low; there's still a partial charge in the system, just not much. Still...worth a try.
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2003
Messages
9,014
 
 
 
Tom,

Sounds like the leak may not be in the engine bay. Believe me when I say it will be unmistakable - super bright - when you see it. Don't know if you can see any in the dash vents, possibly the lower ones would have an oil/dye dripping out??

You've got the same snazzy glasses/light. Try wearing them to Starbucks some time and recoiling randomly at things others can't see....

DougM
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2003
Messages
1,457
Location
Somewhere in NJ
 
 
Yeah, I think I need to pull the cooling unit. I did cut open the can with the dye in it when I put it in, just to see what I'd be looking for. It was indeed pretty noticable.

I'll start poking around in the vents before I dive under the dash. Thanks.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2003
Messages
1,457
Location
Somewhere in NJ
 
 
So I finally got my lazy arse around to pulling the cooling unit. I now understand why Toyota makes these things in Japan...small hands ;) What a PIA that is.

As soon as I got the dang thing out, I checked the "internal" side (the side with the termocouple) with the black light and could barely make out any signs of leakage, and then only around the very edges. Started to think, okay, it's probably leaking, but really not much at all :confused:

When I got it into my shop to take a better look, I turned it around and there was lots of dye in there. Looked like it had been sputtered into the unit--just about everything was covered in fluorescent green dots. But almost none came thru the drip tube, and there was absolutely none that I could see in the vents themselves (checked these before I dove in).

I'll take some pics if anyone's interested in what the insides of this thing looks like. I don't think I can take pics of the dye since you have to be wearing those very stylish glasses to see it, but I'll give it a shot.

So it looks like Tom's getting a new evap for Christmas. :frown:

Merry Christmas Dan...you gots mail
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2003
Messages
1,457
Location
Somewhere in NJ
 
 
Yeah, I'm working on that. I tried it with and without flash. Both suck for different reasons, but without flash (and some photoshoping) may be the ticket. I'll be bach.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top Bottom