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VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs This is a discussion about MKIII-A3/MkIII Jetta/Golf (<99.5) and B4 Passats (96,97) TDI's. Non TDI related postings will be moved or removed.

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Old April 15th, 2012, 20:41   #1
ToddA1
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Default Air conditioning rant and a few questions

I finally decided to do something about my abysmal air conditioning on my B4V, due to tomorrow's 90 forecast. Easy enough, right? The car that I bought, last year, just for functional air conditioning...




Went to Autozone Friday night and picked up a flush kit, manifold gauge set, vacuum pump, PAG 46, and 2 o-ring kits. Saturday morning, I hook up the gauge set and the port connections are defective. I need to push and hold them to have the pins depress the port valves. Screw it, I know the system works somewhat and it holds pressure, I don't need to see the actual pressures. I'll go back when I'm ready to charge the system.

I decide to pull everything apart to start flushing. Everything is coming apart easily and I'm making good time. I encounter one bolt that's stripped and it's probably the toughest one to get to. It's the lower 4mm allen bolt on the TXV, tucked up nicely under the rain tray. I'm not willing to pull the dash to get the parts on a bench.

I cut a slot in the head making a flathead screw... no luck. I can't drill the head off because the slot, so I grind the entire head off. Still can't get it off because of the corrosion... I'm sure it's along the entire bolt. I end up breaking a screwdriver trying to pry the clamp away from the TXV. I finally decide to use a rotary tool to cut along the bolt, front to back. I end up burning out a newer B&D rotary tool. I go back with a die grinder and cut off wheel. After cutting, I'm finally able to separate the parts. I lost close to 2 hours on this...






I spend a few hours flushing all the parts and decide to run back to Autozone to exchange the gauge set. I had to go to a couple before I found one in stock. I keep flushing and start hooking everything up before quitting for the night.

Today, I'm pulling vacuum (30 minutes) by early afternoon; shut it down and it holds 30hg for over an hour. I decide to continue the deep vacuum while I replace the front end... maybe another 1.5 hours.

Off topic, but I also decided to clean out the intercooler since I had easy access. This is how I dried it out. I let the blower run on 3/4 throttle for about 30 minutes.




The car is back together and I start charging. The pedal is propped to 1200 rpm. 75F ambient temperature, a/c is set to max and recirculate; the vents are putting out a steady 50F during the charge, but after the last can is empty, the temperature rises to 52.

I used 4 (12 oz.) cans, because I couldn't figure out a good way to determine how much freon I was adding. Every time I disconnected a can, it wasn't 100% empty, although it felt like it was. I was also losing freon when I was purging the charge line. I guessed that 2 oz was lost with each can swap/purge.

The low side eventually stabilized to 26 lbs, but the high side read 105 lbs. I can't find anything via Google regarding a low high side port pressure, so I'm thinking the gauge set is defective. I'll get another gauge set and verify.

I remove the low side quick connect, then the high side. A geyser of freon and oil erupt from the high side and I can't get it to stop... the valve is stuck open! F*CK, I just lost about 15 hours in time and $60 in freon and oil. I put the port caps back on, and go get fuel.

I really don't want to go through the ordeal of flushing everything again. OK, now the questions:
  • How do you determine freon weight when using individual cans?
  • Any ideas on the low, high side pressure? The compressor has yellow writing on it, like it's a junkyard part. Think it's going out?
  • Should the vent temperature have been lower considering the 75 ambient temperature? I was hoping to see low to mid 40s.
  • I plan on swapping the port valves, deep vacuuming and recharging. How do I determine how much oil was lost? I was planning on adding a couple more ounces. Is too much oil a bad thing?
  • I'm thinking the drier will still be in a sealed system, so it won't need to be replaced... opinions?
-Todd
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Old April 16th, 2012, 06:59   #2
TonyJetta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
I used 4 (12 oz.) cans, because I couldn't figure out a good way to determine how much freon I was adding.
That's about 1 can too much. You should be 41oz 2oz / 1150gram 50 gram.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
I was also losing freon when I was purging the charge line. I guessed that 2 oz was lost with each can swap/purge.
Not even close. You might lose ~1gram (0.05oz) when purging that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
The low side eventually stabilized to 26 lbs, but the high side read 105 lbs.
Your vent temps aren't unusual, and your low side temp is right on. But, your high side temp was too low. It should oscillate between 200 and ~250. This could be an artifact of overcharging.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
...I'm thinking the gauge set is defective. I'll get another gauge set and verify.
I don't think your gauges are off. When the manifold is open to atmosphere, do they both read 0? To they have an adjustment screw on the face, with an access plug on the plastic cover?

I've had my Autozone gauge set for 4 years, and no issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
I remove the low side quick connect, then the high side. A geyser of freon and oil erupt from the high side and I can't get it to stop... the valve is stuck open! F*CK, I just lost about 15 hours in time and $60 in freon and oil. I put the port caps back on, and go get fuel.
I would get the valve replaced ASAP! Otherwise you will likely need another drier/accumulator.

You didn't really lose 15hrs; maybe 2-3hrs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
I really don't want to go through the ordeal of flushing everything again. OK, now the questions:
  • How do you determine freon weight when using individual cans?
  • Buy a small food scale. $10 or so.
    • I have a digital one I use, just for AC work.
  • Measure the can, full, empty, and with the valve on.
    • The nameplate weight on the can is usually about right on.
  • As you add the 1st 3 cans, total the weight of freon: 340+340+340 gram=1020 gram
    • Purge the line between each can.
  • Write down the full can weight, WITH the valve attached.
  • Slowly add freon from the 4th can.
    • Take your time and measure the weight.
    • Subtract the present weight from the total weight, you measured above.
    • You want to add ~130gram form the 4th can.
  • Keep in mind, you have a 50 gram tolerance. So, being a little low is not necessarily bad. i.e. the amount of freon you lose during a purge is not going to matter too much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
  • Any ideas on the low, high side pressure? The compressor has yellow writing on it, like it's a junkyard part. Think it's going out?
It might be. If the high side pressure was that low, it certainly could be on it's way out. Usually a failing compressor will have trouble keep the low side pressure that low.

OTOH, the control valve inside the compressor could be on it's way out. I have read that some people have replaced them successfully.

Low side: ~30psi
High Side 200-250 psi, depending on ambient temperature and level of charge.
At 75F...When the high side gets up to 250psi, the cooling fans should switch to high speed, and the high side pressure should fall back to 200-210psi, then the fans will slow down to the low speed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
  • Should the vent temperature have been lower considering the 75 ambient temperature? I was hoping to see low to mid 40s.
That all depends on your blower speed.

At 75F-90F, my center vent temp will stay at 50-52F, when the blower is on high speed.
On speed 3: ~45-48F
On speed 2: ~43-46F
On speed 1: ~39-43F

This has to do with the amount of time the air has, to transfer heat from the evaporator core.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
  • I plan on swapping the port valves, deep vacuuming and recharging. How do I determine how much oil was lost? I was planning on adding a couple more ounces. Is too much oil a bad thing?
That's hard to judge.

Adding 2 more ounces won't be bad. How much oil did you add in the beginning? The system call for 4.5oz.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
  • I'm thinking the drier will still be in a sealed system, so it won't need to be replaced... opinions?
Because the screw on caps are not really sealed, this all depends on time. The longer the system is not sealed, the more likely you are to need a new drier.

Tony
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Old April 16th, 2012, 07:37   #3
compu_85
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Great advice!!!

-J
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Maybe I should pay MYSELF to do bad work on my car!
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Old April 16th, 2012, 18:06   #4
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Removed the port cap before I left for work, and it was still quietly hissing. Coming back from lunch the vent temp was 56 on high with an ambient temp of 87. I got as low as 45 on speed 2.

Grabbed a service port kit from Autozone. MT-2907 contains both service ports with valves installed, 2 extra schraeder valves and the caps for about $10.

Got home late and started running around for 2 more cans of 134a. 2 Walmarts and 2 Autozones later, I gave up. Everything they had on the shelves had leak sealer and dye in it. I did grab a digital kitchen scale at Walmart for $20. Good idea... I was trying to do tare readings and can weight (with the valve) using a digital fish scale, lol. It wasn't working out too well.

I had to use vice grips on the valve. It wasn't metric or standard... likely a funky hvac service socket. Oiled the o-ring and installed with an adjustable wrench. I left the low side alone, being that the valves are AL and I didn't want to open another can of worms. When I pulled the high service port I added about 1.25 oz of oil with a syringe. In the beginning, I added roughly 4.5 to 5 oz. the measuring cup increments jumped by 4ozs, so I divided those and scratched marks on the cup.

Pulled vacuum for 40 minutes and it held 29hg for 40 minutes. I'll leave it in vacuum until I find more 134a.

The gauges are able to be set. They both zero out when disconnected. They both showed the same 100 lbs static pressure. Being that I couldn't find anything on the low, high port pressure, faulty gauges we're a thought. Figured if overcharging were a cause, it'd have been mentioned somewhere.

I figured 15 hours with all the disassembly and problems. If I wanted to pull the car apart and flush everything again, I guess it'd be a full 8 hour day with reassembly and recharge.

Thanks for the detailed reply!

I'm actually considering running some propane in the system to see the results. Been doing a lot of reading on the subject for a very long time. Supposedly all these green r12/134a substitutes are propane, butane or a mixture of both. Supposedly more efficient than r12 and r134a. You use less, too. 5 oz of propane is equal to 13 oz of 134a. I figure I'd need around 16 oz of propane.

If my compressor is on the way out, now is the time to try it out. Most compressor warranties are void if you use these substitutes.

The cost would be a charge hose to cut. I have plenty of propane, but I can get a 32 oz bottle for about $2.50.

-Todd
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Old April 16th, 2012, 19:11   #5
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Keep us posted on how it works.

My 2 cents....While propane may sound like a cheap 'green' alternative to R134, I don't advocate it's use. Mostly because of the flammability aspect. And the fact that the system was originally designed for R134.

Tony
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Old April 16th, 2012, 20:55   #6
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Ya, with the variable displacement compressor, which varies based on pressure, you want to stick with 134a. Plus 134a cools great in these cars.

-J
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Maybe I should pay MYSELF to do bad work on my car!
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Old April 18th, 2012, 19:22   #7
ToddA1
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Originally Posted by compu_85 View Post
Ya, with the variable displacement compressor, which varies based on pressure, you want to stick with 134a. Plus 134a cools great in these cars.
Not quite sure what a variable displacement compressor actually is or does, so I guess more research is in order.

If I can get 35% better cooling using a different hydrocarbon, I will. All the things that I've been reading for close to a year really have my interest piqued. The wagon is a big car with a lot of glass. Even when my vents were blowing 47 on that 87 day, the left side of my body was definitely feeling the sun. When it gets to be 100, I'm sure I'll want colder vent temps than 134a can deliver.

Last night I ran around and got some stuff to try the propane. I bought:
  • a 14.1 oz cylinder for $3
  • a couple male/male barbs (only needed one) for $6
  • FI hose clamps $2
  • 2' of 0.25" ID hose for $3.
  • I had an old ac recharge hose and a propane nozzle. So they were no cost.
Total cost so far is about $14.

I went to Duracool's site to verify my conversion and I was correct @ 16 oz. for a 40 oz. system. Duracool is mostly propane and butane. The camping fuel that I saw at Walmart was a mix of propane and butane. It looked like an Acme thread on the can, but that would have been too easy... it wasn't. I wasn't looking to buy a camping stove to rob it of the fitting, so I stuck with propane.

Last night I put the gauges on the car and the vacuum dropped to 25" hg, so I deep vacuumed for another hour. Tonight, I hooked the gauges back up and I still read 29", so I was satisfied. Time to start the charge. Ambient temperature is 55, not exactly ideal.

The cylinder with my charging rig weighed 38.9 oz. I ended up getting about 12.5 oz. in, and that would convert to about 31.25 oz. of 134a. I put the gauge set back on and saw static pressure at 104/100 lbs.

I start the car and I hear the clutch kick in. Air blows frigid for about 10 seconds; my digital thermometer wasn't fast enough to read the lowest it blew. The lowest I saw was 47 and then it started climbing; I saw it stabilize around 62. What I noticed was the low side hose got cold for only about 10 seconds then warmed up. When blowing cold, the low side would read about 27 lbs. and I'd see the high side creep up to around 150 lbs. These pressures are pretty typical for propane. Apparently the gauge set isn't defective.

When the system stopped cooling (10 seconds later) the low side would remain the same but the high side would go back to 100 lbs., the same issue that I was having when running 134a. I'm guessing I wasn't paying attention when the high side was climbing, but the system never stopped cooling and it was a much warmer day. This happened a few times before I got frustrated and cleaned up.

I realize that the system is undercharged, but I'd think that it would be able to keep a consistent temperature that's below ambient. I'll get that last 3.5 oz. in there later.

Tony mentioned that this could have been an artifact due to me overcharging, but now I'm seeing the same issue with undercharging. I'll research the control valve that he mentioned.

If I end up having to get a new compressor, I'll have to stick with 134a to satisfy the warranty, although I'm not sure how they'd know.

-Todd
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Old April 20th, 2012, 17:41   #8
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I got back on this tonight with the hopes of wrapping it up. Hooked the gauge set to the car and started it up. Once again frigid air, but this time it didn't turn off after 10 seconds. Not sure what's happening, but I'm not asking questions.

Grab the vent thermometer and it's reading around 50 @ 900 RPM with an ambient temperature of 70. That's basically where I was at with 134a, but with a 1,200 RPM and a 75 ambient. I guess it's not too bad considering that I'm undercharged.

I read somewhere that propane doesn't really shine at idle. Where you'll see the most cooling is at cruising RPMs, so I take it it to 1750 RPM and see 37! It could have dropped lower, but I got excited and decided to put the last 3.5 oz. in. Disconnect the low side and a geyser of propane erupts from the service port.... great. Put the gauge set back on, and remove the low side again and it stops. I'll deal with it later.

So, I owed the system 3.5 oz. and I factor I lost at least 2 oz. with the newest port leak (I started wondering how much refrigerant the manifold gauge set held). I decide to put 5 oz. in. These are my results @ 70 ambient:
  • 900 RPM----> 49.8---> 30/180 port pressure
  • 1750 RPM---> 39.3---> 24-27/210-220 port pressure





I never saw the 37 again, and I may have slightly overcharged the system. I've read that propane works better when slightly undercharged. I can bleed some out later and see what happens.

I left the air running while I was disconnecting and packing up. I go back to the car and now the vents are reading 65. I'll have to do some research on what could cause this. I'm not sure if the reed valves in the compressor would cause intermittent compressor failure. If so, time for a new compressor.

I'm thinking the fluctuations that I'm seeing on the 2nd reading may be the control valve going out as Tony mentioned, but I don't know if it would cause an intermittent issue. It's purpose is to bleed high side pressure to the low side when the low side is too low. It's a fairly cheap part, and it's a lot cheaper than a compressor.

Feeling around the compressor, it feels like the control valve may be on the underside. Anybody know for sure?

-Todd
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Old April 25th, 2012, 07:48   #9
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Any ideas about the low high side readings?

From what I've read, the control valve would show higher than normal low side pressure when faulty. IIRC, it can be bypassed with a nut and bolt, but then another hi/low switch would need to be added.

A faulty TXV would show both pressures to be either high or low, in unison.

The current hi/low switch wouldn't have anything to do with my issue, other than shutting the compressor down, which would then show equal static pressures. I'm out of things to research.

At this point, I'm leaning towards the compressor. Would bad reed valves give me an intermitant issue? I can sometimes turn the AC off, wait a few minutes and it'll start working fine again, then it'll go warm again. I've seen a breakdown of this compressor and the reed valves look like thin shims of starfish shaped metal or some other type of composite material

I don't want to fix the problem by throwing expensive parts at the car, so this point, I think I'll look for a used compressor. The SD7V16 was used in VWs up to 2005. I figure a 7 y/o compressor is better than my 15 y/o compressor, and the junkyard will give me a warranty of at least 30 days.

It seems the 2 differences between the compressors after 2002 is the pulley is 7 groove instead of 6 groove, but i'm not even sure that would matter... I may just have an empty groove when using my 6 rib belt. The other issue would be a different connector for the clutch coil. Both of these would be simple fixes, if I wanted/needed to swap pullies and clutches.

Any other ideas before I go junkyard hunting?

-Todd
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Old April 25th, 2012, 09:54   #10
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lower high side pressures could also be the TXV not regulating temperature. Which would also coincide with the intermittent issue you are experiencing.

Th elast one I had would regulate the temp at about 50F on a hot (>100F) day. AC shop said it was fine. When I pulled it last month, there was an O-ring stuck on the outlet (evap) side of the liquid line.

They are cheap enough (~$70, IIRC), to try replacing. And, yes, even new ones will fail-on-install.

Tony
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Old April 25th, 2012, 10:27   #11
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lower high side pressures could also be the TXV not regulating temperature. Which would also coincide with the intermittent issue you are experiencing.
True; I was initially looking toward the TXV, until I did more research. I guess it's cheap enough to replace, so when I purge the system, I'll remove and inspect.

What turned me away from the TXV is when the valve sticks closed the high side drops and the low side would also drop. In this case, such a dramatic drop should put the low side in vacuum, according to what I read.

What I may do is wait for another warm day pull the TXV cover and turn the air on. I've heard that tapping on it can get the TXV to free itself if it is sticking open or closed.

Called a local junkyard and they'd want $25 with afor a compressor, so that's definitely not terrible, especially if I find a later one.

Thanks for the reply. It seems that you're the forum's AC guru.

-Todd

BTW, this past Saturday we had an 80 ambient temperature. I saw 32 vent temps. It's been in the 60s since, so there hasn't been a need to turn the AC on.
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Old April 25th, 2012, 13:50   #12
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Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
Thanks for the reply. It seems that you're the forum's AC guru.
Thanks for the kind words.

I don't know about AC guru, though. Just a little too experienced with B4 AC system over the last 4 years.

Tony
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Old April 25th, 2012, 14:58   #13
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Haha. I wish I could be blissfully ignorant on the subject, too.

-Todd
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Old April 30th, 2012, 18:34   #14
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I joined an ac forum and basically cut and pasted my issue.

Someone brought up the control valve and I reiterated what read about higher than normal low value. This same person wrote an article about the valve and added that any odd pressure values could point at the valve. The later info wasn't in the article.

I've ordered a control valve, some DEC Pag 46, and some Nylog. There are 2 different gasket kits and lip seals for this compressor. The site that I ordered from said the only way to tell which you needed was to open the compressor, and look at them.

Autozone sells a Santech kit that includes the lip seal for $31, but of course it's a special order, but it's returnable. I'll be going in tomorrow am. Most sites only sell the kit that's geared to the earlier compressors, that I likely have. Many have said the gaskets come off in one piece, and are reusable. We shall see.

-Todd
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Old May 1st, 2012, 06:31   #15
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Where did you order the control valve from?

Tony
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