Confirming an RCV failure in the AC?

Liko81

New member
Joined
May 9, 2016
Location
DFW
TDI
2013 Jetta TDI w/Nav
Hi guys,

New not-100%-proud owner of a 2013 VW Jetta TDI. I knew what I was getting into emissions-wise, but there have been a couple other issues. The previous owner had an aftermarket rear wing installed, and it wasn't done well causing trunk leaks that I initially tried to stop by sealing the screw holes, but finally broke down and put a bead of sealant around the base of the wing mounts (works but not as clean-looking).

The second problem showed up as the weather warmed; intermittent AC failure causing short and then longer periods of warm air, even on max AC. The first garage diagnosed a grenaded compressor and wanted to do a full system replacement (essentially every pressurized component except the evaporator core). I got a second opinion and that mechanic replaced the expansion valve. The system has worked better since but not 100%, and the second garage now recommends a compressor replacement (but not a full system replacement); after reading up on the troublesome RCV, I'm guessing that's the real problem, and the improvement is due to the amount of fiddling the two garages have done which has loosened up whatever was sticking in the RCV.

The question for the floor is how to confirm this diagnosis? Here's what the second garage, which I trust more, has said:

* Loop oil looks fine; no discoloration (though that may just be due to the first garage replacing it as part of their AC service/diagnostic a few days earlier)
* No crud downstream; expansion valve replacement didn't find any deposits in the high-pressure line.
* Compressor turning and providing some compression as evidenced by some cold air output.

Replacing the RCV is a gamble; if it works I save about $750 on a full compressor replacement (and thousands more on a full system changeout), if it doesn't solve the problem I've wasted about $250 and still need a compressor replacement. It could also be the control unit, though the unit seems to be working internally, or the circuit running out to the RCV which may have an intermittent short.
 
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jetlagmech

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Location
Toledo, WA
TDI
2010 jetta
When I had my RCV valve done, I knew there was a chance of it not fixing the problem, but decided the price difference was worth trying it. have the mechanic look at the RCV when its removed. I was told if it is covered in a grey goo then the compressor needs replacement. but since the expansion valve was replaced and looked at with no contamination I would think its a good chance there wont be any.

On my A/C failure the system would just barely cool. sometimes it would work better than other times but never as it should it seemed. I lived in Las Vegas at the time and the wife was not happy about semi-working A/C in June with the worst of summer coming fast. I paid about $60 for the RCV and about $200 for the R&R. the hardest part was finding someone that was willing to change it out. every shop I talked to told me to bring it in and they will have a look for a fee. but when I pressed them.... would they change the RCV if they found what I told them? they admitted they would not since its not in the book as a changeable part.
 

CoolAirVw

Vendor
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Location
Kansas City Missouri
TDI
Jetta
There is nothing that will be 100% conclusive. Just try it and see. It will probably fix it especially if it cools ok once it starts working but doesn't cool when 1st turned on.
 

csstevej

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Location
north nj
TDI
2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
What are the pressures ?
 

jhonster

Active member
Joined
May 3, 2010
Location
Los Angeles, Ca.
TDI
2013 Jetta Sportwagen, , 2001 Jetta, 2000 Jetta
Polar Bear RCV valve for sale brand new

Just in case someone needs a Polar Bear RCV valve, I have a brand new one in the box. Never installed. I bought one ahead of time without having looked under the car to see what was going on with the A/C on my 2010 Jetta Sportwagen. Well, lo and behold, the compressor itself was leaking from the section gaskets and there was fluorescent dye leaking from it. I'm the 2nd owner and it had 120K when I bought it. It now has 150K and the A/C started to do what everyone else describes. Anyway, long story short. I'm replacing the Comp & dryer. Flushed the system. And am now re-installing everything. I used my $1000 TDI credit to get all the parts. So anyway. I've got a brand new RCV valve from Polar Bear Inc. Part# EX019. Supposedly the most common of them all. I have a Sanden compressor. 1st $40 takes it. You pay for shipping (I think it's only $10. I have the original receipt, & will send it with the part. I can scan a copy and email it to you. I just can't see throwing this on top of my tool box along with tons of other new parts I've accumulated over the years. PM me if you're interested. John S.
www.polarbearinc.com/index.cfm/product/7838_953/ex-019.htm
 

meerschm

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 18, 2009
Location
Fairfax county VA
TDI
2009 Jetta wagon DSG 08/08 205k buyback 1/8/18; replaced with 2017 Golf Wagon 4mo 1.8l CXBB
A good step for verification is to log some values from the HVAC controller.

If the controller is lacking a required condition, it will tell you via a code.

if the pressure just drops because the wire to the control valve is shorted, (or open) you will be able to see the high side pressure drop, along with evaporator temps.

if you do not have VCDS, it might be cheaper to try the valve, but this is a very useful tool....
 

VincenzaV

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2015
Location
New Hampshire
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon
At least you have a chance with the RCV. Us guys with the exact same symptoms with earlier cars (Like my 2004, for example) are screwed.

Speaking of screwed, what can MK4 guys look at with the same bad RCV symptoms???
 

cidades

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2010
Location
Portugal
TDI
Golf MK4 >> AHF(81kW)
There is an internal RCV :D

Had a little problem with mine, Sanden SD7V16, it was making too much cold, evaporator sitting around -2ºC.
 
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Jersey_Joe

New member
Joined
Jul 16, 2015
Location
Lebanon, NJ
TDI
2012 JSW
I purchased my JSW last June (2015) and suffered thru the summer with very weak AC. It was not very enjoyable while in FL but acceptable in NJ. This June I decided to do something short of the compressor replacement suggested by my mechanic (couldn't see giving a brand new compressor back to VW). I purchased the Polar Bear part for my compressor and asked the mechanic to try it. He said that when he pulled the original there were lots of metal bits partially embedded in the valve. He replaced it with the new and it worked for a bit and then started to revert to its problematic ways. He pulled it again, removed the additional bits that accumulated and reinstalled. It has worked fine since. Even took it to FL again and had absolutely no problems.
 

Mongler98

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Location
COLORADO (SE of Denver)
TDI
98 Jetta TDI AHU 1.9L (944 TDI swap in progress) I moved so now i got nothing but an AHU in a garage on a pallet.
yep, its probably blown up!

the real question that is always on my mind is why did it fail? every time i see one fail its all gummed up and nasty. leaving me to understand that 1 of 2 things caused this, an initial contamination within the system or the pump or its self is wearing down and causing an acid reaction that causes this goo to show up. either way, if you take the compressor apart and find ANYTHING at all resembling other than clean PAG oil, clean the compressor and all its parts, flush the lines out and purge it out with nitrogen. And i strongly suggest a $9 Oil acid tester. you can get them at any HVAC shop and i think you CAN use PH testing strips from pools or aquariums if you have assess to the oil its self, the testers are for a pressurized system.
 

Red Devil

Member
Joined
May 9, 2011
Location
Los Angeles
TDI
2011 Audi A3 TDI
Have an A3 TDi with similar a/c issues - and it’s hot in LA! I watched the two videos above, have VAG and a copy of ElsaWin. Want to confirm I will need to evacuate and refill the Freon to replace the valve? This is skipped in the video and while the act of replacing the valve is pretty straight forward mechanically, it seems I will need a shop to handle the discharge/recharge. Is this correct? Thanks!
 

pkhoury

That guy with the goats
Joined
Nov 30, 2010
Location
Medina, TX
TDI
2013 JSW, 2003 Jetta Ute, 2 x 2002 Golf, 2000 Golf
I have about a 95% success rate on RCV replacement, just FYI. And I replace a LOT of them.
I know this is an old thread... but I believe it. I've replaced it three times on my 2010 JSW, including a sensor on the high pressure side twice. I did the RCV last week, and yup - night and day difference.

To anyone else reading this - you can get the replacement RCV on rockauto shipped for under $50. Or... you can get the same damn thing from polar bear inc in FL for about $70 shipped. They once didn't get tracking to me on an RCV I ordered, so when the USPS supposedly lost it, I had to eat the cost and buy another. I obviously go the rockauto route now. It's pretty easy - evacuate the refrigerant, pull the connector off the RCV, take off the snap ring, pull out the RCV, replace and reverse instructions.
 

pkhoury

That guy with the goats
Joined
Nov 30, 2010
Location
Medina, TX
TDI
2013 JSW, 2003 Jetta Ute, 2 x 2002 Golf, 2000 Golf
Have an A3 TDi with similar a/c issues - and it’s hot in LA! I watched the two videos above, have VAG and a copy of ElsaWin. Want to confirm I will need to evacuate and refill the Freon to replace the valve? This is skipped in the video and while the act of replacing the valve is pretty straight forward mechanically, it seems I will need a shop to handle the discharge/recharge. Is this correct? Thanks!
OHHHHH YES! If you don't evacuate, that RCV will LITERALLY come shooting out like a bullet.

You also need to pull a vacuum on your system once it's replaced, to:
A) make sure there are no leaks
B) suck ANY and ALL moisture out of the system

The system should take 525g (marked on the hood or the core support), but translated to ounces is about 18.2oz. I just refilled approximately that with bottles from Carquest and voila, worked perfectly.

**EDIT** I just thought, some people are probably wondering, "Why did I fill up with bottles from Carquest?" My friend got lazy and didn't renew his state license for Automotive HVAC, so he can only evacuate, but he cannot purchase those large 30 pound canisters.
 
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Craigster91

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Location
SoCal
TDI
2012 A3 TDI
Have an A3 TDi with similar a/c issues - and it’s hot in LA! I watched the two videos above, have VAG and a copy of ElsaWin. Want to confirm I will need to evacuate and refill the Freon to replace the valve? This is skipped in the video and while the act of replacing the valve is pretty straight forward mechanically, it seems I will need a shop to handle the discharge/recharge. Is this correct? Thanks!
Hey I also have an A3 TDI (2012), living just SE of LA. A/C went out -- 3rd time in 18 months. Have gone through 2 new compressors.
Getting an OBDeleven to run scans.
What was your verdict and how did things work out for you?
 

Jr mason

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2013
Location
Andover, Ohio
TDI
01 Beetle 5 speed
To anyone else reading this - you can get the replacement RCV on rockauto shipped for under $50. Or... you can get the same damn thing from polar bear inc in FL for about $70 shipped. They once didn't get tracking to me on an RCV I ordered, so when the USPS supposedly lost it, I had to eat the cost and buy another. I obviously go the rockauto route now. It's pretty easy - evacuate the refrigerant, pull the connector off the RCV, take off the snap ring, pull out the RCV, replace and reverse instructions.
Looking at Rock Auto's website and they only list one sensor for my 2012. Polar Bear says there are 4 different compressor possibilities and that you MUST confirm which compressor you have. They also go on to say that if you have a Sanden (which I do) you must confirm whether your valve is retained by a bolt or a snap ring. Rock Auto is usually on the money with their parts, does anyone know why such a discrepancy between the 2 sites?

For what it's worth, mine is a Sanden and the valve is retianed with a snap ring.

Thanks!
 

pkhoury

That guy with the goats
Joined
Nov 30, 2010
Location
Medina, TX
TDI
2013 JSW, 2003 Jetta Ute, 2 x 2002 Golf, 2000 Golf
Looking at Rock Auto's website and they only list one sensor for my 2012. Polar Bear says there are 4 different compressor possibilities and that you MUST confirm which compressor you have. They also go on to say that if you have a Sanden (which I do) you must confirm whether your valve is retained by a bolt or a snap ring. Rock Auto is usually on the money with their parts, does anyone know why such a discrepancy between the 2 sites?

For what it's worth, mine is a Sanden and the valve is retianed with a snap ring.

Thanks!
I'm sure there was a parts change or variation at some point, so who knows, but all my CJAA's have had snap ring RCV's. I stopped using Polar Bear, because RA is not only cheaper, but Polar Bear claimed to have shipped out an RCV that got lost, but they didn't provide a tracking number and said I had to bear responsibility. That and the fact they're not only in Florida, but the owner's name is the same as my aunt who's also in Florida (and everyone in the family hates my aunt, and the name is NOT common). So that was enough reason to buy elsewhere LOL
 

dantes

New member
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Location
Chicago
TDI
‘14 JSW & ‘15 Passat
I'm sure there was a parts change or variation at some point, so who knows, but all my CJAA's have had snap ring RCV's. I stopped using Polar Bear, because RA is not only cheaper, but Polar Bear claimed to have shipped out an RCV that got lost, but they didn't provide a tracking number and said I had to bear responsibility. That and the fact they're not only in Florida, but the owner's name is the same as my aunt who's also in Florida (and everyone in the family hates my aunt, and the name is NOT common). So that was enough reason to buy elsewhere LOL
Do you recall the part number cause RA has two of them and i need to get the snap ring one
 

pkhoury

That guy with the goats
Joined
Nov 30, 2010
Location
Medina, TX
TDI
2013 JSW, 2003 Jetta Ute, 2 x 2002 Golf, 2000 Golf
Do you recall the part number cause RA has two of them and i need to get the snap ring one
I'd just get the one that looks like the snap ring one. PolarBear in Florida will tell you the same thing - get a visual on it first. I believe the electrical connector is a 90 degree angle on the snap ring one. Who knows - I might be changing mine out sooner than later as well, though the AC isn't sucking that bad in the JSW yet... I also daily drive my Golfs more, because Texas summers are brutal!
 
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