WARNING Prius owners never let anybody top off your refrigerant

Discussion in 'Prius c Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by lech auto air conditionin, Oct 26, 2019.

  1. lech auto air conditionin

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    There is only one correct way to recharge the refrigerant on your Prius whether you have a GEN one all the way through to a Prius prime. Step one completely recover all refrigerant. Step to pull a vacuum down below 500 µm. Step three only recharge your refrigerant with clean dry non-contaminated refrigerant to the under hood sticker recommendation by weight only.
    If any mechanic tells you to recharge your refrigerant by pressure or by a temperature turn around and leave and find another one.
     
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  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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  3. iceman13

    iceman13 Member

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    Very interesting. I always topped off the refrigerant on my old cars, being careful not to overfill. This is my first car with this type of system and Ilocanos how efficient it is and how fast it cools down the cabin in 95f weather. I never set it below 72 because I don’t like the loud humming it can make when the day is very humid and hot.
    Does running it always in the coldest setting affect longevity? I hear a lot of Toyota hybrids with the compressor humming along loudly because owners don’t seem to care and leave it in the coldest setting. I have too much mechanical empathy to leave it humming like that.
     
  4. lech auto air conditionin

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    On my 2012 Prius C the day we drove it off the parking lot of the dealership the AC button was turned on and has never been turned off I do that with all my vehicles because I always like the stress test all my air-conditioning systems and since I usually always get 300+ to 400,000 miles out of my vehicles on the same air conditioning compressor never fails. In my younger years I used to almost drive 100,000 miles a year for several years.In my younger years.
    Since 1994 when I started my business and I was mobile and I like cold very cold. I worked 12 hours a day plus in the early years leaving my car idle all day long while I was at jobsites with the air conditioning at the coldest setting in sanely even when it was foggy or rainy outside I liked it really cold. So all my engines including my air-conditioning were more like an airplane or a boat you didn’t count miles you counted hours.

    So get into the Prius C I leave my house from 6:30 to 7 AM every morning never turning off my air conditioning the vehicle idols all day at all my stops are usually get home about 630 to 830 every night and my air-conditioning is always set to low and my compressor whines like crazy on hot days.
    But I will tell you on the very next day when I drove my 2012 Prius C home I recovered the refrigerant and I threw it on the vacuum pump overnight. I injected tracer line UV leak detecting dye into my system and recharge the refrigerant. Every two years I recover my refrigerant and I have a refrigerant lost weight between 70g. In a two-year period of time. The very last time I recovered refrigerant I had a 90 g loss.

    Of course everything wears with more use. But just like your engine on average if you’re the cheapest person who uses the cheapest $.79 regular oil and only changes it every 10 or 15,000 miles. Or the person who uses Amsoil oil and changes it every 3000 miles and uses a slightly heavier weight viscosity not what the manufacturer recommended.
    But we all know of those cases where somebody never changes their oil and they have 270,000 miles on the car like when I met my first wife in her Ford Fairmont and we were out on our first date in her car and I heard a tapping come from the engine and the oil light was coming on. She replied that meant it was time to add another quart of oil.

    I could tell you that DENSO compressor it’s very durable and last tens of thousands of hours of continuous use.

    So long as you have no moisture in your refrigerant,

    So long as you have no air mixed in your refrigerant.

    So long as you don’t have contaminated refrigerant with multiple different types of refrigerant. “I like hydrocarbons propane and butane are beautiful refrigerants a little of that is OK lol “

    When I use my refrigerant analyzer on every car I service and it has been serviced one or more times guess what I find mixed in with the refrigerant.

    Every time I find a burned compressor on a Prius I lease find one of three thing 100% of the Time. And I’m only mentioning the three common.
    1: Low on charge

    2: Overcharged

    3: contaminated refrigerant.

    The last 30 years being a subcontractor for body shops and mechanical repair shops I have a simple warranty program with any car that uses DENSO components. If you buy DENSO Products when service in the vehicle and it is defective out of the box and it leaks or fails I will do the job again for free.
    If it is any other brand then you pay the bill a second time. When it does fail I tell either the customer or the owner of the shop you were paying $$$& for the education.

    PS. By the way did you see my two videos part one and part two a day ago I posted a Prius with 380 g then I recovered and recharged it with 520 g.
    The high side and low side pressure and the duct dash temperature were exactly the same. food for thought
     
    #4 lech auto air conditionin, Oct 26, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
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  5. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to explain all this...

    What are types of problems/symptoms to look for when people mistakenly top off a Prius with store bought can of refrigerant with pressure meter?

    I think all of us want to do it right and you point out so much you have to account for as far as weather details both in the car outside the car and within the A/C system itself? Seems like this one is not a DIY option at all?

    And because of that, what if I brought my 2007 into get refreshed and it has no obvious problems and has never been serviced, how much would that cost? And seeing as San Francisco bay area is one of the most expensive places in the world to run a shop, how much would that same service cost if you were running a shop in the middle of nowhere with no outrageous burden from the over-priced city you live in?

    Or maybe more accurately and in order to help as many people as possible, you told us the very worst type of service to avoid, but what kind of equipment / knowledge / certification should we look for when finding the very best Auto AC service?
     
  6. lech auto air conditionin

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    As for what types problems or symptoms from topping off the obvious one the air conditioning does not cool very well but if you’ve seen my other videos even a Prius low on charge can cool very well on a day that is not so hot but at the same time the compressor is overworking itself to perform that task.

    Even if somebody went through all the work of using a vacuum pump to put the system under a good vacuum and they were able to accomplish that task I have noticed nearly all of the small can taps with the cheap little Service fittings gauges and hoses when you disconnect and reconnect the leak air pass the seal sucking in words allowing air and moisture in the system as you are making the transition before you get a chance to add refrigerant. They were constructed for pressure but they weren’t designed very well for deep vacuum.

    If you scan through my photo album I list of many tools and equipment that Shop should be using.
    One specific item is a high-quality good UV tracedye made by the manufacture tracer line Products

    most of the recovery and recycle and recharge machines more than 5+ years old do not have scales accurate enough to perform reliable re-charge on small systems that hover around 1 pound of refrigerant.

    Years ago on older equipment it was considered normal the accuracy of a scale only had to be plus or -2 or 3 ounces that was good enough on a system where average of 2 1/2 pounds or more. On top of that now the equipment is five or 10 years old possibly rolled around the shop on roof floors or outside in front of the shop on the rough pavement going over bumps with a heavy 30 to 50 pound tank sitting on the scale how accurate do you think that is after all these years.

    leak detectors a hot topic down right hands down with no dispute if I had to use no brand-name and not influence your decision at all I would say any leak detector that comes with a factory calibrated calibration bottle for testing included is a good leak detector.
    Anything other than that might be excellent out of the box for the first few months of use and after that you will never know because you have absolutely no way to test it’s calibration it’s accuracy or how sensitive it is anymore you only contested that you can crack a bottle of refrigerant stick it down into a large dose and refrigerant and it still goes off what good does that do you. But my preference is for the( Baccarac H-10)

    Most of the really good as I called them big dumb square box machines the ones that are not so dumb are the ones that have built-in micron gauges and built-in refrigerant analyzers or at least can hook up to a refrigerant analyzer that stops the recovery if it detects contaminated refrigerant it also stops to recharge if it detects a leak under vacuum but those cost money and shops don’t like to spend money in their mind the customer will not know if they purchased a cheaper machine that doesn’t quite do the job as well so long as it blows Cold they collect money and they see your tail lights drive off their parking lot.

    ask for refrigerant manifold gauges I really love my set of Testo 557‘s and Testo 550s.
    But for the automotive industry and training personnel the gauges you see in my videos from Fieldpiece SM480V I would hands-down recommend no others. Just because the software is a little more user-friendly than the Testo‘s but the test is more closely represent lab grade material for testing.

    and if you scan through my videos you actually get to see the different types of equipment that I use it’s no secret I let everybody know I want everybody to use the best stuff they can to perform if there a shop the best job they can for their customer and not having faulty equipment that gives false diagnostics and readings because it was cheap.
     
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  7. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Wow, that's a lot of info... I suspect I might make a shop paranoid if I came in aware of that many details about their equipment... Maybe I'll just come to you next time I'm in the area? What's the price range for a tune up of a 2007 Prius A/C system with no known problems that's never been serviced? And do you give PriusChat member discounts? :)
     
  8. lech auto air conditionin

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    OK sit down if you’re not from a big city area like downtown New York or San Francisco I’m almost embarrassed to tell you the price range. on average you’ll probably be looking at somewhere in different shops between just under $200 to about $270.
    You have to remember a nearly 100-year-old home around here that is a fixer-upper or just decent enough to live in is around 900,000 to $1,300,000.
    And shop floor space in the cheapest run down ghetto neighborhoods you would not want your wife or children to walk in will be about $1.50 a square foot and up in a nicer area $3.50 a square foot and up
    So around $8000-$30,000 a month just for building rental is not uncommon.
    Just for somebody to pick up garbage and Pusha mop and clean toilets minimum wage here is $15 an hour now throwing benefits and on top of that San Francisco has their own employment tax for healthcare for minimum-wage workers.
    In the neighborhood I live you could rent a room sharing with other people the kitchen and bathroom amenities for about $1200-$1800 depending on the size of your room. Usually only students live here.
    A vary Small studio or even a Inlaw garage converted apartment will be about $2500-$2800.
    And I’ve traveled across the country and it’s affordable to eat at small restaurants but if you’re coming from a Midwestern town where you could get a house for $130,000-$200,000 on your wages you’ll go bankrupt just trying to eat out every night here in San Francisco.
    You got a remember Tesla with all the options cost more than most homes in the United States and around here teslas are like fleas on the dog.
     
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  9. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Your prices sound relatively reasonable!

    And bless you for keeping the fight alive to survive in SF Bay Area!!! Someday I hope SF will revert back to a more sensible affordable place to live. SF bay Area is my homeland, born and raised in Palo Alto & Los Altos with early adult years in Santa Cruz...

    All those redwood forests to the south and north of you are where I've spent many years with lawyers and radical activists in fights to protect them, as well as planted tens of thousands of them. But I got priced out and couldn't afford it any longer and finally moved north to Oregon in 1996. Maybe in a couple more decades after all the fires and venture capital wastefullness driving up prices has died down I'll return for my senior years?
     
  10. lech auto air conditionin

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    I think only after the Apocalypse and the nuclear winter passes will the home prices ever drop

    San Francisco is doing nothing new but following to history in the pattern of the rest of the world like Japan , Shanghai , Hong Kong i’ve traveled Asia over 20 years compared to Shanghai San Francisco‘s for poor people. Way behind the times and infrastructure and technology.
    When my mother-in-law and father-in-law flew into San Francisco from Shanghai I asked them how did they like our city.
    Their response was it’s a nice little countryside Village. But she complimented us on our blue skies and clean air and being able to drink the water.
     
  11. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Please don't cross post.

    If it applies to multiple versions, just post it in the Knowledge Base section.
     
  12. strategy400

    strategy400 New Member

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    I'd guess using the wrong oil in a prius AC system would also be common. I suppose that could fall under contamination.
     
  13. lech auto air conditionin

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    That would fall under oil contamination. As in addition of PAG oil or Mineral oil or the wrong type of Ester oil. Don’t forget moisture contamination in your Ester oil.
     
  14. strategy400

    strategy400 New Member

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    I know the prius use a special oil...
     
  15. アレン・スピクタロン

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    What kind of vacuum pump i can buy to get this done ? and where i can get it ?
     
  16. lech auto air conditionin

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    1: If you were going to do this for yourself as a do it yourself individual just a cheap one from eBay or Amazon. 2: If you were going to do this as a business for good quality work for your customers. https://www.trutechtools.com/NAVAC-NRP8Di-Vacuum-Pump
    If you’re going to buy cheap vacuum gauges be careful they often leak at the seals not very accurate they’re good for a few uses before they start having problems sometimes they’re not even good brand new out-of-the-box. I did a YouTube video about this problem with cheap eBay and Amazon vacuum gauges.
    If you’re going to be a mechanic and you’re working in the shop doing this as a business then I would only recommend a good accurate high-quality set of refrigerant gages. With a built-in micron meter. Fieldpiece SM480V Digital Manifold with Micron Gauge and 3-Pack of Premium 60" Anti-Blowback Hoses
    this is the fieldpiece SM480V you can also download their software onto your phone or iPad to use their diagnostic software and record and data log before and after results to show your customer. You could record a PDF of the results and include them with your invoice
     
  17. アレン・スピクタロン

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    Also i would like to ask, if i'm going to refill the AC system with R134a refrigerant, no oil, i shall refill it using the low pressure line. My vehicle is a Prius C from 2012, how many psi should i put in, i mean what is the pressure limit?
     
  18. lech auto air conditionin

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    You only fill by Weight “NOT BY PSI !”. Look at refrigerant sticker order the hood. For example you may see it say 420g.
    that is only 14.8 oz.
    Just over filling it by one or two oz makes a big difference on a hot day.

    Do not make the same mistake as other people make using that auto parts snake oil garbage ( A/C PRO ) it has a extra 3 oz of oil, leak seal, “ Magic super cool additive”.
    The Prius C entire oil capacity is just less then 3oz. If you keep ( TOPPING OFF ) because you have a leak the you just added a extra 3oz of a solid to your gas.
    Gas compress solids do not. Refrigerant absorbs heat , oil is a insulator same as fat on a whale to protect him from the below freezing salt water of the Arctic.
     
  19. アレン・スピクタロン

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    I see, thanks for answering.

    But then how i know if my vehicle needs refrigerant or not? the amount of it does not change the pressure in the line?
     
  20. lech auto air conditionin

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    After seven years if this is the first time 98% chance you have lost refrigerant there are very few systems that are lucky enough that do not lose refrigerant.
    Because of the rubber hoses in the chrome connections at the rubber hoses in the seals at the fittings everything has a tiny amount of refrigerant loss overtime.
    You just recover all the refrigerant back down to zero put it under a vacuum and recharge by weight.
    Just because of the materials that are used and the method of application it was designed to leak guaranteed to fail at some time.
     
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