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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
2013 Cruze 2LT 49000 MIlies My refrigerant is leaking Very slowly I noticed about 3 months ago it wasn't coming out as cold as it should. I had a refrigerant pressure gauge thing and I tested and was very low like the gauge didn't even go low enough. When compressor was off pressure was over too much when the compressor went on it went all the way down as if it couldn't go anymore. AC still comes out kind of cold on the passenger side but not really not so much hot days in South Florida . I've heard that the refrigerant with leak sealer can mess up other components like the compressor is this true? Or is it a myth made up by AC technicians? Is it safe to add refrigerant with leak seal?
 

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Leak seal is nothing more than a seal softener and over the long term, softens (damages) them......Not recommended. This product is something you use on a car that is soon to be retired (or traded in).

You should only be concerned with the readings that take place while the compressor is engaged and the system used on the Cruze, when properly charged, keeps the compressor engaged at all times. The cooling fan (at the radiator) cycles on and off to maintain the pressure differential.

Low side pressure generally is satisfactory when it is around 30 to 40 psi, compressor engaged, in the shade with ambient temperature between 75 to 80 degrees.
High side pressure on a healthy system will be between 180 to 250 psi.

Try one can R134A and see what your number(s) are.

Let me highlight the ambient temperature thing.......don't try to add in the middle of a hot day with a hot engine......your pressures will be all over the board and you can damage the compressor.

BTW.....a small loss of refrigerant over several years is not uncommon so you don't necessarily have a leak point.

Rob
 

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First I've heard of it. Without a track record of success, I don't think I'd use it. Too easy to go wrong and get expensive.
 

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Well our owners manual does say not to use any non approved additives or preservatives, not in those exact words but stop leak is generally frowned on. You need a professional, not professional in a can:2cents:
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Leak seal is nothing more than a seal softener and over the long term, softens (damages) them......Not recommended. This product is something you use on a car that is soon to be retired (or traded in).

You should only be concerned with the readings that take place while the compressor is engaged and the system used on the Cruze, when properly charged, keeps the compressor engaged at all times. The cooling fan (at the radiator) cycles on and off to maintain the pressure differential.

Low side pressure generally is satisfactory when it is around 30 to 40 psi, compressor engaged, in the shade with ambient temperature between 75 to 80 degrees.
High side pressure on a healthy system will be between 180 to 250 psi.

Try one can R134A and see what your number(s) are.

Let me highlight the ambient temperature thing.......don't try to add in the middle of a hot day with a hot engine......your pressures will be all over the board and you can damage the compressor.

BTW.....a small loss of refrigerant over several years is not uncommon so you don't necessarily have a leak point.

Rob
Thank you Rob I wouldn't have known that when I tested it earlier I was in the middle of a hot sunny day after the car have been sitting awhile 90° easy. I guess I should do it in the morning or pull it in the garage for a while first.
I actually had it fixed supposedly under warranty around 14,000 miles ago it was leaking then and needed a new evap temp sensor a little over a year ago. I've been blowing not cold enough for a couple months now hi will add the refrigerant without the leak and see how long it lasts. I was hoping you guys were going to say it works great haha thank you for your thoughts I guess my instincts were correct not ing to use
 

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Will this post be deleted if you tell things the way they are?

Several years ago, EPA did a study, private vehicles were stated to lose about 10% refrigerant per year, commercial vehicles, up to 50%, EPA requested if they could do better. But if you were anyone else, could be fined $25,000.00 if caught releasing refrigerant.

Vehicle compressors use to have sump, your refrigerator, HVAC system, and even an air compressor is this way, only pumped refrigerant, then went to the so-called cheaper two cycle engine approach by mixing the oil with the refrigerant. Oil does not cool, and too much can slug the compressor and wreck it, too little and it would seize.

In regards to leaks, can just have an oil leak, or a refrigerant leak or both. If the system is still running with low pressure, not getting the correct oil circulation, this can toast your compressor. Oil leaks are visual, common is the compressor seal itself, really hard to see unless you remove the clutch first. For refrigerant, need a leak detector, mine show leaks as low as one ounce per year, need a really good one for this. But not easy to use, have to be in a still air space, cold engine, and measure below the sources, as refrigerant is heavier than air.


Early vehicles, even GM used a high side sight glass, Supra and motorhome still have these, on the high side line, very simple to charge. Just wait for an 80*F or above, sight glass should be clear, if not, running the engine at least 1,500 rpm, add refrigerant until the bubbles disappear. Was around 1963, GM dropped this and came out with a charging station.

These recovered all the refrigerant into a clear calibrated glass, so you could compare the weight with the specified amount. !965 Buick didn't have a sight glass, ha, I and just about everybody else was adding one back then, those charging stations were and still are, super expensive. Only a couple of bucks, bean counters are not new.

Early compressor not only had service ports, but service valves as well, and even had a sight glass for the oil, once glance would tell you it was okay. With these newer system, all guess work. Only way to tell if its correct is too completely flush the system and inject the correct amount in. To save a couple of bucks in production, cost a small fortune now for servicing.

Shocked the EPA is permitting the sale of these R134a kits, those low side gauges are not only very inaccurate, but you need to also know what the high side is doing. Too much pressure and you will blow up your system. Adding leak stuff can also plug up your orifice that feeds the evaporator. Its like they want you to wreck your system. But then is your problem low charge or some kind of electrical system problem? Cruze compressor, variable displacement is electronically controlled.

Assuming your refrigerant is low is insane.

AC requires extensive training, just like electronics is not taught to your average mechanic, so is AC, rare to find a dealership that is competent in these fields, but okay for replacing a muffler.

Service ports are also noted for leakage, these new quick coupler types are notorious for this, large diaphragm that never seats properly. With R-12, use to use metal caps with a neoprene washer inside, new ones are all plastic. Its like they want you to have leaks.

Older systems were using brass fittings with double flared tubing for seals, been replaces with snap together O'rings, that space shuttle tells the story about O"rings.

Back in 1994, was guy called Oz that was pushing propane and butane to replace R-12, EPA jumped all over him for the fire hazards with these gases. But now considering using propane for refrigerants. R-1234YF is this new stuff, some vehicles have it, its lowest price is about 60 bucks per pound. Use to buy R-12 for 30 cents per pound.

Thinking its cheaper to trade your old vehicle in. With my Cruze, hitting defrost in above 33*F would switch on the compressor, next to worthless, RH has very low moisture at these temperatures, that compressor seal is stiff and so is water based PAG oil. So just refused to use defrost. So didn't have AC problems. Also have to switch off the AC five minutes before getting there with the blower at max to dry it off or will eat away the evaporator with acid and get mold. Drove my 04 Cavalier this way for ten years without AC problems. You don't find this in the owners manual, comes with experience.

Don't touch those plastic service port caps, will wreck something.
 

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Forgot the most important thing, keep that condenser in front of the radiator clean, first class bug collector. Blocks air flow, high side pressures with R-134a get super high putting a lot of extra loads on the compressor.

Was not easy on the Cruze, had to drop that lower cover and clean it from the bottom, good time to wear a full face mask.

Also blocks cooling air to the radiator, this is like a hundred year problem never solved.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I just bought some 134a refrigerant at Walmart for 4. 99 a can. AutoZone wanted $12.99 a can. I noticed some have oil or you can buy a separate can with oil .

do I need to add oil too or is just refrigerant enough? Can too much oil harm anything?

I think everyone agrees not to use the leak seal so I don't want to mess with it not worth the risk of messing up something else
 

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Oil should only be added after certain component replacement. If your leak was severe you would see much dirt adhering to the leak point.
That being said, I doubt if you have lost any, but one can with oil wouldn't harm anything......usually contains just a ounce.

Think of your A/C compressor as a two stroke engine.......old design systems had a sump in the compressor for oil.....your system lubricates the compressor with the oil mixed in the 134a........same as a two stroke engine lubricates with bit of oil mixed with the fuel. To much oil causes smoke and a lean condition.....efficiency is reduced.

If a A/C system has too much oil it coats the inside passages of the evaporator and condenser, reducing their efficiency since the oil blocks the temperature change from inside the tubes to outside the tubes.

Rob
 

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Forgot the most important thing, keep that condenser in front of the radiator clean, first class bug collector. Blocks air flow, high side pressures with R-134a get super high putting a lot of extra loads on the compressor.

Was not easy on the Cruze, had to drop that lower cover and clean it from the bottom, good time to wear a full face mask.

Also blocks cooling air to the radiator, this is like a hundred year problem never solved.
We used to put a frame with mosquito wire in front of the grille in country Australia. It works great and pops off to clean, it's also cheap to make.
 

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We used to put a frame with mosquito wire in front of the grille in country Australia. It works great and pops off to clean, it's also cheap to make.
Not recommended by vehicle manufacturers, is like they want you to have problems. In just one vehicle like my 92 DeVille with plenty of space between the condenser and the grille, was able to install, a screen door screen angled down. Large insects would hit it and drop off, mosquitoes and smaller insects could be easily brushed off. Condenser and radiator stayed cleaned. Also dented with stone chips that never got to that thin aluminum condenser.

Lot of our roads around here are lined with a small shoulder covered with stones, and sure don't want to get behind a guy that can't keep his vehicle on the road, another problem besides insects. Sure had my share of cracked windshields, comprehensive took care of these. But the condenser is not covered.

Can stay far away from an uncovered gravel truck, these guys are breaking the law, but when one came from the opposite direction Cruze windshield got a big crack in it. My comprehensive took care of this. No way with traffic to get the license plate number. Laid on my creeper looking up at my Cruze for a screen, brain didn't come up with any means. to tight and too many obstructions.

But having the shop manual noticed that stone guard was missing, dealer didn't believe this, but had all their mechanics and parts manager looking at it. Ordered one, installed it myself, but what good it does has me puzzled.

We only get a sticker for the rear license plate, but our laws require a front license plate as well. But maybe not a bad idea, have many stone chips in mine. Can get a new one for free, but not a condenser, and not covered by anything.

Have a freezer that does not have a condenser, and since it doesn't, doesn't need a fan either. Thought is this was brilliant, running the lines on the inside of the cabinet using all of this to get rid of the heat. Be nice if automotive would do the same thing.

Never thought about an external screen, how would one make this look attractive and attached to a plastic bumper? Ha, more food for thought. But one thing for sure, manufacturers are not thinking about this, leaving it up to us. Should also have a screen for the windshield.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hey guys I had to refill the refrigerant again for the third time since July 7th. Every 3 to 3 and 1/2 months. Added about three-quarters of a can yesterday to bring it from about 15 to 40 on the gauge. I know when it's time to add because the driver side starts to not be cold while the passenger side is still kind of cold but not enough to cool the car.

Now being that it's my third time filling with just plain refrigerant, should I add one that has oil in it to next time?

I was tempted to get the Arctic freeze says it cools 50% faster has oil in it as well as leak sealer. I just heard a lot of bad things about leak sealer. Most of them have refrigerant with Oil in it. I had shop around to find one with just plain refrigerant. I've been told too much oil can damage the system and it doesn't leak out as fast as the refrigerant or something along those lines. But I know the oil is important as well and since I keep refilling without oil is my oil becoming low am I going to damage my compressor?
 

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You can't go off the low pressure reading to decide whether your fully charged. You need the high side pressure gauge. High side pressure should be between 225 - 250. 275 if you're in a very hot climate. Such as the mexico border which I've seen hit 120 degrees. Or even Phoenix.

The low side is used to determine problems in relation to the high side.

You also need the motor revved to 2000 - 2500 rpms. To get an accurate reading. Your car spends 90% of it's time driving down the road so you want to know what your car is reading 90% of the time. Not the 10% it's idling.

Every time someone uses the can. Air is allowed in to the system. Most of the systems I've seen on the shelves don't have a way to release the air.

Cars these days only hold 16 - 18 oz. of freon. And only require 1 - 2 oz. of freon to top off.

If you keep adding freon in the can and as much as you say you've been adding. You've probably got a lot of air inside the system by now. Keep going at that rate and eventually you're going to run in to problems.

I've been charging ac's for 30 years now. And it's looking like cars in the early 10's won't hold the proper pressure. 175 is what they hold. Just enough to act like a humidifier. My guess is the pressure releif valve on compressors is a faulty design.

If you're constantly adding. You've either got a leak in the system or too much air in the system by now.

I know you guys don't like to hear this but the cans really aren't the way to go.

I prefer the 30 lb. container. As i can hook up. Crack the yellow hose at the gauge connection to release air. And close off. Before charging the system or topping off the system. I've had my 30 pounds for 10 years now and still have half a container.

This is my equipment.

https://www.harborfreight.com/ac-r134a-manifold-gauge-set-62707.html
https://www.ebay.com/i/292175556674?chn=ps&fl=a Can be found cheaper online usually.

If i need to evacuate.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Robinair-34102-30-lbs-Replacement-Tank-for-R-134a/29496128?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=1413&adid=22222222227019487472&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=52587490031&wl4=aud-310687322322:pla-84468413231&wl5=9029771&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=113139785&wl11=online&wl12=29496128&wl13=&veh=sem
https://www.harborfreight.com/25-cfm-vacuum-pump-61245.html

If you have access to an air compressor. One of these will work also. But it's not as good for evacuating moisture as the electric pump.

https://www.harborfreight.com/air-vacuum-pump-with-r134a-and-r12-connectors-96677.html
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Thanks for the detailed info . So I can't afford all that or afford to bring it anywhere so I have to keep refilling it myself . My question is do I add the refrigerant with oil since I've just been adding straight refrigerant the past two or three cans?
 

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Anything dealing with 180-250 psi is enough for me not to "harry homeowner" the fix. AC is one area that is best left to the professionals and not a can connected to a grenade pin if you know what I mean.
 

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r134 comes with oil in it. It also comes with green dye.

But if you can't afford to do it with the right equipment. How you going to afford the grenades. As mentioned above. Because you've probably got a lot of air in there by now using them cans.

If you're adding that often. You've probably got a leak somewhere. Since it comes with green dye. Look for any traces of green. Anywhere along the system.

Kind of like looking for an antifreeze leak. Only antifreeze is orange these days.
 
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