PLEASE HELP!! - 2005 Prius A/C Evaporator Problems

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Scott Dube, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. Scott Dube

    Scott Dube Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    13
    0
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I'm hoping someone out there can give some good advice on my "05" Prius. In May of last year - 2012 - the A/C unit started blowing warm air so I had the service department at the dealership do a recharge (they also added dye to detect any leaks). Now, 14 months later my A/C starts blowing warm air and I am told I have an extremely slow leak at the evaporator. Since the cost was $1200 to repair it and I did not have that amount of $$$ they told me I can just recharge it again for now until I can save up the money and get maybe another 12 or so months on a recharge. They recharged the unit and I expected to get at lease a year or so but it lasted only 3 days and I'm blowing warm air again. I notice that in the glass sight viewfinder I can see liquid moving through the glass where before this I did not. I looks different from before. I do not remember seeing any liquid or movement in there. It seems that they did not recharge it right maybe hoping I would crumble under the 100 degree plus weather and would have no choice but to have them do the job. Sorry, I do not trust most shops. Is there anything I can do to see what happened here? I called them and tried to tell them they could not have charged it right since the technician himself even said it was extremely slow of a leak...I mean, why bother recharging a system if he thought it would just leak out, RIGHT, plus it cost me $170.00? Can I go to their service dept and buy a can of freon and charge it myself and see what happens? I know these A/C systems are very complicated and I do not want to create more damage. What is my lowest risk option here? Also, is there a leak stop solution that can be used to repair a slow leak in a Prius evaporator? I just feel like they either did not recharge it right or they created another problem where there was none. PLEASE HELP ! Also, thank you for all your other posts that make this site so great. This is my number 1 place to go with my Prius questions.

    Scott
     
  2. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    7,407
    3,135
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Your post is pretty clear. Knowing there's a leak the dealer said they could re-charge and you could maybe get another 12 months or so. Operative word being maybe. There re-charge to full made the leak get much bigger no fault of there's as it was a crap shoot anyway. Then you say why did they bother charging it?

    Why did you OK it? You knew it was leaking. You rolled the dice and crapped out.

    No do not buy a can of freon and add it as it does not contain the correct oil used in a Prius and you may just damage the compressor next.

    No there is no stop leak additive.

    You did not list your location as there may be some Indie AC guys locally to you that can replace the e-coil at a better rate than the dealer. There's a few ac guys on here. Nothing special about a Prius e-coil. They do make an updated e-coil to replace e-coils under a TSB for mold issues. See the TSB section for the new updated part number.

    How many miles on car?
     
  3. Scott Dube

    Scott Dube Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    13
    0
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    II
    My car has 134,000. I am just south of the Bay from you in Bradenton. I was never aware that recharging would enlarge the hole but was also never advised that could happen. Can you take a look at my other post just below this one with the attached video. I gave a video of the sight glass showing whats happening with the gas/fluid. Should I be feeling cold air with this much fluid? What is an Indie AC guy? I know my way around cars pre-1980 but after that forget it. Just bought the Prius as my wife researched them and found them to be true and tested. Great car. Just need to repair this AC unit.
     
  4. dorunron

    dorunron Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    3,318
    1,079
    0
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Indie=Independent i.e.: Someone who is knowledgeable of the Prius system and has the proper tools to repair the system to Toyota specification.
     
  5. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    7,407
    3,135
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Indie is an Independent auto repair place.

    Oh just bought the car. Oh boy. Everytime a post takes this arc it takes us a bunch of posts to find out the car was in a front end wreck and has a salvage title.

    Yes?

    It doesn't enlarge the hole but it does put the system under pressure.A leak never gets better
    on its own. Especially one under great pressure like an ac system.

    Locally ICE COLD AIR does a good job. There a franchise. I've used my local guy a few times on my other cars and they were straight up.

    Your dealer detected the leak probably using a freon detector. It squawks if it smells freon. They saw no dye leaking anywhere and then last resort stuck the detector under the dash and it squawked. Thats about as far as they went I bet because further investigation requires $$$$.

    Don't waste anymore time just take it too a place like ICE COLD AIR and for $99 they'll tell you whats up. They will charge it back up correctly (they always use dye now everytime they charge a car) and check for leaks. May be just a loose fitting. May not even be the e-coil because new car dealers are liars. Forget the dealer its to expensive. At ICA at least they'll tell you if they can repair it. There pretty good up here and in Tampa too as that's all they do is car ac.

    There's a few posts here about people replacing the e-coil themselves here on PC.

    Put your location in your signature box please.
     
  6. Scott Dube

    Scott Dube Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    13
    0
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Just want to be clear with my post. I bought the car in 2005 so, no, we did not just buy it. I absolutely love this car, the best auto I've ever bought. I really feel I can double the 134,000 miles I have and still have a great car. So your saying they doubtfully went in an did an actual examination of the evap coil?? They sure did come out very quickly to tell me they wanted their $$$. What should this job cost me with in indie guy? Also, thank you for all your help here. You guys are taking your own time out to help me and I'm just blown away by your advice. They should give an award for that. I will put my location once I have 5 posts and 1 like on the site. It is Bradenton, Florida. Thanks

    This car never had an accident so no front end damage. By the way, here is a video of what the A/C unit is doing right now. Appears to be alot of fluid in there. Should I be feeling some cool air?


    I can add one more thing to this post that may be a clue as to where the problem lays. The day we started feeling the air get warmer we also noticed a "fishy" smell in the car. It was surely coming from the A/C air ducts. I've read other posts that others have had this "fishy" smell also but I'm not sure where this ties into the big picture here. I will take the car in this week to Ice Cold Air and get an inspection but maybe there is something else you gurus may see by what I told you that may be the underlying problem, or an additional problem. Thanks.
     
  7. lech auto air conditionin

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    305
    183
    184
    Location:
    san francisco
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    question? #1: the loud buzzing sound , was that coming from your a/c compressor?.
    question? #2: when you shut off the a/c and using a light do you see a light gray film coating on the inside surface of the sight glass?.

    Most of your question were answered in the above post. If have not already damaged your compressor you may if you keep running it low on refrigerant. ( DID ANY ONE EVER TELL YOU THIS ABOUT YOUR PRIUS A/C COMPRESSOR!.) Low refrigerant = low oil return to the compressor FACT #1. Low refrigerant = no cold refrigerant return back to the ELECTRIC HOT MOTOR WINDINGS FACT!! not to mention the tiny roller bearing that spin past 6000 RPMs.

    Yes the TECH that said that it was a slow leak , thinking it took 1 year + to leak out the first time and if he did not pick up a large leak this time using his electronic refrigerant leak detector this time I could see how the TECH would give it another shot just to get you through the summer to build up some cash for the job, BUT! some time a leak can become large and when the TECH recharges it and test it there is no leak. When the customer drives off and the a/c system is vibrating from motion down the road and the metal parts are expanding and contracting from cold and pressure through many cycles this is when a leak can reveal it self.

    When you have the evaporator replaced have them replace the dryer sock to you can see photos on my photo album of what a clean dryer sock and a dirty one looks like self explanatory. Two other bad thing are taking place many TECHs or customers do not know about. When your A/C refrigerant is low or overcharged the compressor works harder drawing MORE AMPS from your EV battery cycle it many more time shorting it's life and heating it up. Then there is the added bonus of lower MPG because of this. It is a vicious circle you are in a hot humid climate, that nice cool air inside your cabin of the car is what get drawn in over the hot battery cells to cool the EV battery down, YES?. Oh but wait there is no cool cabin air because the a/c is not working or there are the customers who don't want a/c because they believe it is worth higher MPG and just sweat a little, but they are not the only this getting HOT!. This is just the short and easy explanation non- techie ( keep it simple) need I say more.
    I'm worried about your compressor and the extra expensive repair this will cause to your bank account!.
    For those of you who think the Prius a/c is advanced wait until you see the Tesla compressor mounting place and the Volt cooling heat exchanger for the coolant for the batteries. I'v been working on much more technically complicated and much more expensive HVAC units that have three small compressors instead of one big one and do both heating and cooling at the same time in different places. The a/c on cars now for the Hybrids are just chils's play compared to whats coming.
     
  8. Scott Dube

    Scott Dube Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    13
    0
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Thanks for your reply. First, the buzzing sound you hear is always heard when you turn the AC unit to the ON position. At times you will hear both this sound and the gas engine turn on intermittently while parked and with engine running. I have always heard this sound from day one with the car all the way back to 2005. It is heard when we are stopped parked with car running and the AC on. I included a video of when the car is running with the AC off and then with the car running and the AC on. Before I go and start the search for a shop to repair this I am relying on all the input and advice I'm getting from all you guys that know the car well. The first video is my car with the AC turned off. I mention during the video that there is no movement but you can see there is some liquid or gas/oil mixture in there. Just a little movement of liquid.



    This next video shows the car with the A/C setting turned to the On position and the blower in the HIGH max setting. You can clearly see the gray fluid moving quite fast and has perhaps air bubbles or something that gives it that certain texture or look like a gaseous fluid.



    I'm just hoping that with this information and with your expertise and knowledge of the Prius I can approach a technician and feel better knowing I'm not getting bad advice or even getting ripped off by these overpriced dealership service outfits. It's hard to trust anyone nowadays. Thanks a bunch man!
     
  9. Scott Dube

    Scott Dube Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    13
    0
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I've already added a post about this issue but I'm not sure if it is in the correct category so I'll just explain the problem quickly for your advice. I bought my Prius in 2005 and last year in May of 2012 the AC started blowing warm air. The dealer recharged the system and added dye to trace any leaks. The A/C worked great until a week ago. So it went 14 months with no issues. Since it started blowing warm again I went back to the same Toyota service center and they checked the system and told me the Evaporator has a leak. I'm not sure if they actually went right in and checked for a leak on the coil physically looking for the dye or if they just used a freon gas leak detector and tested a general area under the dash. It was strange how fast they came to me with the bad news and told me about the $$$ required to replace it plus the 6-8 hours labor. I could not afford the $1100 so they said they would recharge the system to get me through summer and enough time to gather some $$ for the job. Well, three days later and I'm blowing warm air again and it is super hot right now. I feel like I'm getting the usual dealership service dept. special where they just tell you the worst is wrong when they do not really know. The recharge fee of $170 I consider just thrown away. My AC is actually alot worse than before I went in a week ago. It seems like the air is actually alot warmer than ever before. I've been given advice on going to an Indie Prius guy in town that will fully inspect the system for $99 and do the job cheaper. Before that though I want to show you what is going on with the sight glass. Before I had any problems I do not recall any movement of anything in this glass. Now, I see a gray fluid with zillions of bubbles in it. I am including a video of this. From what I can see the dealership recharged the system incorrectly, is this possible? This is a certified Toyota dealership with certified mechanics. From what you see here should there be cold air? What should the repair cost be for a new Evap Coil? Also, is it possible we are overlooking something else here? Thanks.

    The first video is with the car on and the AC turned off. Keep in mind the camera used has a microphone that is super sensitive and the sounds are much louder than in person.


    This video is with the car on and the AC unit on Max Cold and High Speed Fan


    This car runs awesome otherwise. I'm just getting frustrated with what happened and do not know if the dealer service dept. is to be trusted here. For something like this that is an expensive repair I want to have someone I can trust do the work. Lastly, can this be something other than the coil even though this was their diagnosis. Maybe just a loose fitting?? Any suggestions?
     
  10. lech auto air conditionin

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    305
    183
    184
    Location:
    san francisco
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    #1: if it is gray " I could not see clearly" that's not so good but it still can live.
    #2: did I hear you say that noise was not the compressor but a electric motor? what electric motor? I think you should have some one turn on and off the a/c as you are under the hood to find exactly what is making that noise. But I am aware some cameras mic pick up certain frequencies and when played back sound much louder. Yes if it was a warm day 78F+ and your doors or windows were open , your were NOT on recycle air and had ran the a/c for 5 + min and you still have that many bubbles even I would agree it MAY? be low. I am not a advocate of using the sight glass to determine if a a/c system is full or low unless it is a extreme case. I don' instruct a untrained person were to place hands to feel the TEMP of lines as this is dangerous and one mans warm is another mans hot same goes for cold. after many many years I can place my hand on something and tell within + or - 2 F what the temp is, and blowing air within + or - 1F and the humidity just by walking into a room. all this is taken into account when diagnosing a/c something not picked up from a book, YouTube or in most class rooms for a/c.

    The leak for sure you need to take care of. the rest of it is not one of the things you do with out seen and touching it myself.
    You did a great job using the videos (y) . I would love to use a gas analyzer to test the refrigerant to see if it is 100% R134a with no air mixed in it. I find this to be a vary big problem.
    good luck, but im afraid no matter what way you go it's not a cheap fix . I was at the MACS convention in Florida this last Jan or Feb I meat many TECHs and shop owners at that time If I remember a name of the only one I thought sounded like he know what he was doing by the way he answered questions I asked it post the name. MACSW = http://www.macsw.org
     
  11. lech auto air conditionin

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    305
    183
    184
    Location:
    san francisco
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    The loose fitting your hoping for is the connection from the lines to the expansion valve and from the other side of the expansion valve to the evaporator. I have seen this one time in the last few years out of maybe 18 to 20+ evaporators on the Prius. ether way the dash still has to come off 7hr labor. the only difference is the cost of the evaporator, and the expansion valve connected to the evaporator. That's your choices. You also said you see gray under the glass and that only comes from one place and that's not good. In that gray also are vary vary tiny metal flakes. when they pull out the evaporator have them pour some of the oil out of the old evaporator it should be crystal clear. At the same time replace the $19 expansion valve and the dryer sock in the condenser.
     
  12. Johna

    Johna New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    1
    0
    0
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Greetings:
    I am looking for detail instructions as to how to replace an expansion valve on a 2005 Prius. Thank You.
     
  13. lech auto air conditionin

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    305
    183
    184
    Location:
    san francisco
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius c
    Model:
    Two

    Its not your average DIY job. you a go to TechStream at Toyota pay for one day subscription use and down load all the instructions
     
  14. Sam23

    Sam23 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2014
    2
    0
    0
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    I have a very similar problem on a 2007 Prius. The whole bit ... dealer recharges (without my request - says they did as a courtesy)...suspect a small evaporator leak ... ran 3-4 months ... warm air ... I recharged with DuPont oil-free R134a ... ran another month or so ... recharged again ... little improvement ... saw the same gray tone in refrigerant (probably from compressor - this was actually present after the dealer recharge). Faced with a $3000 bill if the dealer fixes it. Car still runs great (107k)/53-55mpg. How did you solve your problem? I'm thinking about buying all new A/C system parts and replacing it myself, but have not found a repair manual that sufficiently covers the details, but I did stumble on to the Techstream (TIS?) site here. Anyone with comments re changing out the A/C system, locating quality parts (not at dealer prices, refrigerant oil, etc), repair instructions, cautions re voltage and setting off an air-bag?
     
  15. PopCorkOff

    PopCorkOff New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2016
    2
    1
    0
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    I have been looking for a detailed U-tube post on how to remove & replace the evaporator core in my '05 Prius. How much of the dash needs to be taken apart ? Can anybody help me, please ?

    Thanks in advance.
     
    #15 PopCorkOff, Aug 31, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  16. sheldonsmith

    sheldonsmith New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    1
    0
    0
    Location:
    7514 Fairbanks N. Houston Houston, Texas 77040
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius+ MPV
    Model:
    I
    Actually, the R134a refrigerant molecules are much, much smaller than the old R12 molecules are. These molucles are so small that they can actually leak through good fittings and hoses. Over 10 years, being a little low on refrigerant ,it is not Freon, just saying, is not that big of a deal. Now, if your mechanic from AC Repair Service does a proper work.
     
  17. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    922
    654
    1
    Location:
    Boulder Hybids, Boulder, CO
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Removing the Evap Core in a Gen2 Prius is a royal PITA. "book time" is 6-7 hours but plan on taking at least twice as long if you've never done it before. Before you start, you need to be 100% sure there is a problem. Have an AC shop inject UV dye into the system and charge with R134. Use the AC for a day or two, then look for "dye specs in the dash vents" with a UV light. If the core is leaking the dye will tell you.
    IMG_5223.jpg IMG_5225.jpg IMG_5224.jpg
     
    George! and edthefox5 like this.
  18. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    7,407
    3,135
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Like the dye specks in the dash vents.
     
  19. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    922
    654
    1
    Location:
    Boulder Hybids, Boulder, CO
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    You can also have a shop evacuate the system, charge with nitrogen and listen for the leak. If it is a major evaporator leak you'll hear it escaping via the discharge tube under the car.
     
  20. 05PreeUs

    05PreeUs Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    1,001
    488
    0
    Location:
    MSP
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    AC is not a DIY job, unless you are in possession of some type of factory training and documentation.

    A sight glass on an R134a system is worthless in terms of getting the charge correct, works AWESOME on the older (pre '94) R12 systems ;)

    The dealer violated FEDERAL LAW by charging a leaking system, that is a huge no-no, yet done all the time because people want the AC but not the maintenance and repair expense that goes with it.

    Either have a qualified shop diagnose and correctly repair it, or go without. Other options will do more damage than good and be more costly.
     
Loading...