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Discussion Starter #1
I have decades of experience being a shade tree mechanic, have done it all except the AC system. I'm replacing my condenser and this will require me refilling the refrigerant. My system has that expensive R1234yf refrigerant so kinda leaning on letting someone else refill my system but not sure yet, I can buy the vac pump, manifold gauges, PAG oil and 16 ounces of R1234yf for about $400. I have two questions if anyone would help me out on this. First question I have is the PAG oil, as far as amount to add when I replace my condenser, I was told add an ounce inside the condenser before I hook out the lines to it, is that the correct amount? I also need to make sure using synthetic PAG 46 will not cause any issues with my compressor, my label under the hood says to use PAG SAE J639, J2842 or J2845 but when I look for PAG oil using the SAE, I get nothing other than use PAG 46. Regardless weather I refill the system or not, I need to make sure I add the right PAG and the right amount, does anyone know? Second question, In case I do decide to refill the system myself ( not having luck finding a shop that will do it for me) , what are the high and low side pressures on my system? I have a 2016 Ram 1500 Express 5.7 V8 My label reads R-1234yf 510g (1.125 lbs). I have a friend that told me to put (2) 8 ounce cans in it and I would be fine, do yall agree? I hope to find someone that will do it for me mostly because I will never use that vac pump or manifold gauge again but I may have to attempt this myself. For the record, My local RAM dealer wanted $377 for a refill or $917 or condenser replacement and refilling with refrigerant.

Thanks for your help
 

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If you do it yourself and decide to sell the manifold gauges and the vacuum pump, let me know. I would be interested if the price is right.
 

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Thanks. I will add that I have done all kinds of AC repairs and I'm just my own mechanic. There's no reason you can't do this yourself if you have the correct equipment. Unfortunately the new refrigerant requires a new manifold gauge set, hoses, and vacuum pump. Once my Ram gets built, it will be the 3rd vehicle I have that has the new refrigerant. My old equipment for R134a will be obsolete. I have found the aftermarket PAG oil to work on the older R134a system. The Mopar stuff was about 3 times as expensive from a dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the response

I also noticed that the R1234yf has different inlets, gauges and pump too, kinda blows that the prices are higher than 134a stuff. I hope to find a reasonable priced AC guy but so far most shops around me don’t want anything to do with the new R1234yf refrigerant and the only one that will is way to expensive. I always fix my own cars and trucks so asking around is new to me, the only reason I let the dealer look at my truck was they told me it was covered under warranty but after they got the grill off they changed their minds and told me it would be over $900, that is how I got to this point. I already bought my condenser and after I find out if using PAG46 is the right oil and the amount I should add to the condenser, I can install my new condenser then make the decision if I’m refilling the system or someone else.

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PAG oil is all synthetic. The PAG 46 will do. My question to you is: How do you know if there is any oil at all left in the system? the issue of concern is created when you pull into the bay at the garage. You see, by law, the technician literally owns all the refrigerant and oil in your system. Did he do a recovery or did it all leak out? If it was a leak, and it was in the condenser, there is no way of knowing how much oil leaked out with the refrigerant. I'll get back to this point hopefully.
Normally, a tech doing the repair would have an automotive recovery machine. This type of machine will use clean vapor from the tank it is pushing oily liquid into. Do this for a while, the system is flushed of the oil and an oil charge and a refrigerant charge will be weighed in. This is the only way to get the exact oil and refrigerant charge! Any other way is short-changing yourself and hoping for a compressor replacement too. If you cannot do a 100% pristine job of removing air and moisture, even the evaporater core will pinhole from the acid produced.
Now, the law lets citizens buy R-134a. It does not allow you to work with 1234yf. This might be of concern to you.
Have you noticed that cars and trucks just don't have as many A/C problems as they used to? Most of it has to do with the fact that people who shouldn't be touching your system don't. Remember when oil change places would sell A?C recharges yearly even though a system never touched is better than one that is "topped off"? Bite the bullet and have them change the desiccant, evacuate and recharge the refrigerant by weight and be done with it. I know, I'm a DIY guy too. I hate to let the dealer touch my baby.
 

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I forgot to add that the technician usually pulls ALL of your oil out. When you recharge it, you have an unlubricated system that seizes your compressor and leaves you worse off.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the response

This is a tricky situation for me but I will share a little light on it. The AC worked fine the first year and last year it was not cooling as well so I knew I had a small leak. I contacted my local Ram dealer and told them what was going on and they told me it was covered under warranty, I never go to a mechanic but thought I would give them a go at it, mostly because that refrigerant is expensive and I have little experience with the AC. They looked at it and again assured me it was covered and the condenser was going to be shipped to them that day and I would get my truck back same day. I was trying to get a car to go back to work then return later that afternoon to turn it back in and then get my truck. The dealer was having issues getting me a car and about an hour later the mechanic had a little meeting with his boss then they wanted me to look at the condenser with them. He pointed at a spot and told me it was no longer covered under warranty. He told me a rock probably hit it, I told him not possibly because first off the grill had no marks and the spot was below the bumper. I also pointed out the spot was shiny and looked fresh to me. I asked him to put my truck back together and I was leaving, about an hour later I was handed a quote of $913.84. I told them that was ridiculous and to put my truck back together and I was leaving. I then was told I should consider it because other shops around didn’t have R1234yf equipment, I told then to again put my grill back on my truck and I was leaving. They did get my truck back together, I was reminded why I will never use a dealer mechanic. To answer your question on the refidgerant, it leaked out so there was nothing to recover, as far as the oil, I agree with you, no way of knowing how much is in the system. I did have a guy I know show me a chart that shows how much oil to add depending on what’s replaced. Since then I have talked to my uncle, he works on commercial AC units. He explained that the vacuum pump will remove not only moisture but oil in vapor form. In my case he’s going to help me because he already has a vacuum with R1234yf hook up and the manifold gauges. I bought the refrigerant already so I think I should be up and running in a few weeks. I’m not questioning my uncle but I do wonder how some oil would not still be in the compressor, he does this for a living so I’m sure he knows. My biggest concern is after I put the new condenser on, I will find out the leak was not the condenser and I still have a leak, the vacuum pump will answer that.
Thanks again for your response
 

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I have always gone with the charts for how much oil is in a particular part of the AC system. Never had a compressor seize or improper cooling because of too much oil. This was with R134A systems.
From what I have read, most reclaim/recycling equipment will measure the lubricant being removed during recovery as oil vapor. I really doubt all the oil in a system is vapor.

I would go with the chart from the FSM:
Total AC system 180 ml (6 oz.)
AC condenser 30 ml (1 oz.)
AC evaporator 60 ml (2 oz.)
AC compressor Drain and measure the oil from the old compressor.

The amount of oil in the plumbing is not listed and is probably the difference of what is in the compressor and the 90 ml (3 oz.) (which is the amount in the whole system minus the condenser and evaporator).

You could add a bit extra oil (1/4 to 1/3 oz.) to compensate for the oil that was in vapor form that leaked out with the refrigerant. I usually vacuum the system overnight to eliminate any moisture. Under vacuum, moisture boils out. It's the moisture that makes the acid. Looks like the receiver/drier is an integral part of the condenser so since that's what you are replacing, no need to be looking for the receiver/drier. Use new o-ring seals on the lines. You have heard that the R1234yf is explosive so no smoking or sparks.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for your response

Thanks for information, most I have talked with also tell me to add an once to the condenser before I hookup the lines. My uncle, who works on commercial units said he would supervise me when I attempt to fix my AC. He told me something that may help others so I will share it. The sticker under the hood shows the total amount of refrigerant the systems holds, in my case its a lot easier because I have nothing in my system. I can add the amount the stickers reads. My system sticker reads 1.125 lbs (20 oz ) , so I will add (2) full 8 oz cans then use a scale on my last can to add 4 oz from the third can. I will also note that I have been told by every person that knows AC systems that did take time to talk to me, its super important to vac the system down to 30 then let it sit for 30 minutes or longer to make sure you have no leaks. Now is the time to fix leaks, this helps the environment from refrigerant leaking into our atmosphere and helps your wallet too. The cheapest I have found R1234yf is $50 per 8oz, so we all need to make sure we slow down and do our AC systems right. I also will add if we shade-tree mechanics get careless and bring attention to ourselves because of not only the environmental issues but injuries and fires, yes fires. I have read up on the newer refrigerants and fire can be an issue, so please be careful out there. One last thing I will add before I go to the people that consider shade-tree mechanics idiots for working on stuff that were not trained on. I will tell you in my case and I'm sure in others too, the cost of having your vehicle worked on can get outrageously ridiculous and then in some cases you also find the service you paid for was not done correctly. I tip my hat to those professionals that do great work for a fair price, I really do, but for those for example that gave me a quote for a condenser for my truck of $377 then doubled the cost of refrigerant then topped it off with $300 labor on a job that during the hour of vacuuming the system will be doing something else and the actual work time will be less than an hour, these are the reason people fix there own vehicles. My condenser cost me $80 with a three year warranty, the refrigerant cost me $160 with shipping cost, a set of manifold gauges run for R1234yf $130 and a vac pump $220. My point is the cost of buying everything needed cost less than the quote I got from the dealer. I got lucky and will not have to buy the pump and gauges but if I did I would have and still came out cheaper. I will be 100% honest, even though I rather work on my truck, if the dealer had been fair on the repair on my AC, I would had let them do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks again for your response, I do have a question for you seeing how your familiar with auto AC systems. I had a guy ask me if the dealer that briefly had my truck remove the oil from the AC system. As far as I know the only way to remove oil from the compressor is to remove the compressor, remove the plate on the back and pour it out, am I right about this? As far as my knowledge, you can not or should ever flush a compressor and you can't turn all the oil into vapor so I should still have about 3 ounces in mine seeing how just the condenser was damaged. The reason I ask is I plan on working on my issue this coming weekend and I want too make sure I'm right about the oil in the compressor. I could take the compressor off and see but if I'm right about removing oil from the compressor, I would just be adding unnecessary time to my project. Thank you for your time and comments
 

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You could ask the dealer that had it apart how far they disassembled it. I would guess they just had the condenser off. The only way to be absolutely sure is to drain the compressor and measure how much is in there. Draining would involve removing the lines and the plate. Turning the compressor from time to time and letting it drain at least over night would be most accurate. There should be a little less than 3 oz since you can't get every drop to drain and there will be some oil left in the plumbing. When you have the condenser removed, measure how much oil is in there as well. As with the compressor there will be a little less because you can't get every drop to drain.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the response. The dealer took none of the components of the AC off, just the grill to expose the condenser. This is why I think the oil is still in the compressor, just wanted your opinion. I had someone else tell me the same thing with the condenser, he said when I get it off see if any oil is in it, if there is then odds are really good the compressor is full.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Got good news and bad news as far as fixing my AC goes, the good news is oil dripped from the first line I removed from the condenser. Big relief in knowing oil is still in the system, to me that’s better than good news, that freakin awesome! The bad news is the parts store gave me the wrong condenser so I will have to wait a little longer. Thanks again to all who posted, I will update again when I get the right condenser.
 

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Got the right condenser today and installed it, I do want to help anyone thinking of replacing their condenser by sharing a bit of info. The transmission cooler is built on top of the condenser so make sure you use new clean plastic bags to catch the transmission fluid. When you pull out the trans line, put a bag over both the line and cooler hook up and zip tie them. Not only does this keep you from making a mess, it also makes it easier to keep your transmission fluid level correct. The new 8 speed transmissions in Chrysler, Dodge and Rams have a complex way of checking fluid levels. The plug is on the side of the transmission but don’t be fooled in thinking it’s like checking dope in the rear axle. The temp of the oil has to remain below a certain temp, you have to go through a process with the vehicle running where you put it in reverse for a few seconds, put it in drive for a few seconds then remove that side plug to make sure the level is correct. If you change the cooler then you may have to warm the vehicle up to normal operating temps because some makes have a value that opens when the fluid is hot and if your cooler is empty then you get the idea here. My point is, if you catch all the fluid from the removed lines and drain the cooler, collecting that fluid will save you a lot of trouble later on. Add that fluid back to your cold transmission and you should be fine. If you happen to spill or lose that fluid during your condenser/ trans cooler change, then you have a timely task in front of you, plus the fluid is over $35 a quart. In my case I collected it all and tomorrow I will add it back then start my task of pulling a vacuum on my AC and check for leaks and if all goes well add my refrigerant and finally get my AC working again.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
R1234yf Legal to use or not?

PAG oil is all synthetic. The PAG 46 will do. My question to you is: How do you know if there is any oil at all left in the system? the issue of concern is created when you pull into the bay at the garage. You see, by law, the technician literally owns all the refrigerant and oil in your system. Did he do a recovery or did it all leak out? If it was a leak, and it was in the condenser, there is no way of knowing how much oil leaked out with the refrigerant. I'll get back to this point hopefully.
Normally, a tech doing the repair would have an automotive recovery machine. This type of machine will use clean vapor from the tank it is pushing oily liquid into. Do this for a while, the system is flushed of the oil and an oil charge and a refrigerant charge will be weighed in. This is the only way to get the exact oil and refrigerant charge! Any other way is short-changing yourself and hoping for a compressor replacement too. If you cannot do a 100% pristine job of removing air and moisture, even the evaporater core will pinhole from the acid produced.
Now, the law lets citizens buy R-134a. It does not allow you to work with 1234yf. This might be of concern to you.
Have you noticed that cars and trucks just don't have as many A/C problems as they used to? Most of it has to do with the fact that people who shouldn't be touching your system don't. Remember when oil change places would sell A?C recharges yearly even though a system never touched is better than one that is "topped off"? Bite the bullet and have them change the desiccant, evacuate and recharge the refrigerant by weight and be done with it. I know, I'm a DIY guy too. I hate to let the dealer touch my baby.
In this response RamBoxHemi brought up a topic that I couldn't shrug off, is it legal for a shade-tree mechanic to buy and use R1234yf? I did some digging and turns out it is as long as its under 2 lbs of refrigerant. I will paste what the new 2018 guide lines are below.

Thanks RamBoxHemi
New Certification Requirements for Buying R-1234YF

New government regulations went into effect January 1, 2018 that require all technicians and persons who are servicing R-1234YF A/C systems to be Section 609 certified for refrigerant purchases of more than two pounds. If you buy less than two pounds of refrigerant you do not need the 609 certification, but if you want to buy more than two pounds you have to take the 609 certification test.
Another change is that small cans of refrigerant (less than two pounds) must now have self-sealing valves to prevent unused refrigerant from escaping into the atmosphere.
Information about taking the 609 Certification test can be found on the MACS website.
 
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