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Halfords Air Con charge kits


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Word up homies.

Having sold the good lady's car, and feeling quite shit about it all, the least I can do is make the air conditioning work in the Avensis.  Historically, it's always sort of worked - in as much as it would work well enough for about six months before being empty again.  This despite it being used every day.  It was never brilliant - at 30 degrees outside you'd need it on full whack and recirculate, but it worked nonetheless.

I'm interested in these Halfords kits for two reasons.

1.  It seems to advertise itself with a sealant mixed in too.  I reckon I've probably got a small leak in the evaporator or somewhere like that (never seen any green slime)

2.  The soonest ATS in town can see me is August 23rd.  

Obviously there are other vendors, but item 1 above is of interest.

Do the garage systems put a leak sealant in too?

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Any garage doing the job properly should be checking for leaks before filling. Not sure if they would put sealant in. ( @twosmoke300 do you do air con?)

I’ve never been particularly enamoured by the Halfords kits due to the price - it’s as expensive as getting it done at a garage isn’t it? Appreciate that doesn’t address your time issue. 

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2 minutes ago, Kiltox said:

Any garage doing the job properly should be checking for leaks before filling. Not sure if they would put sealant in. ( @twosmoke300 do you do air con?)

I’ve never been particularly enamoured by the Halfords kits due to the price - it’s as expensive as getting it done at a garage isn’t it? Appreciate that doesn’t address your time issue. 

From memory they have to pressure check before they fill the car (atmosphere) with gas.  Thing is - with a tiny leak - it will hold enough pressure to "pass the test" - but that doesn't mean it will keep the car cold for any longer than a few months.  I guess there must be some "tolerance" in what's acceptable.

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1 hour ago, Kiltox said:

Any garage doing the job properly should be checking for leaks before filling. Not sure if they would put sealant in. ( @twosmoke300 do you do air con?)

I’ve never been particularly enamoured by the Halfords kits due to the price - it’s as expensive as getting it done at a garage isn’t it? Appreciate that doesn’t address your time issue. 

I dont do aircon myself but i have a local mobile guy do the regas work . I have gauges and nitrogen test kit tho

 

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I'm told that working on an a/c system is only allowed by those qualified to do so and that allowing the refrigerant to vent to atmosphere is very illegal (and so by proxy, knowingly filling a leaking system too), and so I tell a hypothetical story as of course I would not buy the freely available tools and materials to test and fill my own a/c systems.

A man and his brother who had a fair quantity of old cars with tired a/c systems invested in manifold gauges, a vacuum pump, some of the combined gas/sealant from Halfords and some new schrader valves plus the special tool for swapping them. Most of the cars were found to have zero refrigerant in them, and when testing by drawing a vacuum and closing the gauges off to seal the system it was found that they lost vacuum fairly quickly - no point topping those up as they obviously have leaks in the system somewhere, so more investigation required. I'm assuming the correct way to do this would be to pressurise with inert gas and a dye, then check - I'm assuming the irresponsible way to check is to put the refrigerant in and see what happens, because hey, it says it has sealant in right?! Yeah, don't do that, I've heard it doesn't work 😅 One car was found to have gas in it but not a high enough pressure to operate correctly. This car had the refrigerant and sealant added, and then the schrader valves replaced as apparently the sealant left on the outside will jam them shut when it reacts with air.  The a/c ran great for a few months, but there was obviously a slow leak that the sealant did not seal as eventually the system lost pressure again and didn't work correctly.

So, from the experience of those two chaps I would say that it isn't worth buying just for the sealant, as it seems to just be marketing wank. I think the rest is ethics and the law - is it ok to top up a car knowing it will leak again? 🤔  Something interesting was that the bottles those chaps had did not carry any markings to say that they were R134a gas in them, just that they were compatible... So I'm unsure if the way Halfords get around the legality side of selling something you shouldn't be allowed to use is that you're not actually buying proper refrigerant, just some other gas blend that does a similar job and isn't regulated in the same way. I actually don't think that it is legal to sell refrigerant to the general public anymore.

I'm no expert though so this is just my 2p, take it with a pinch of salt and all that and check with a responsible adult just to make sure 😅

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I had a good think about going DIY with the Fairmont in NZ. If I had, I would have entirely wasted my money as the problem turned out to be something called an orifice tube. It actually had gas in it, but wouldn't run. The company that fixed it pulled the gas out, did the repair and replaced it and by heck was I glad of that during the next 5000 miles! Also, if there's actually a leak, you'll find the gas soon runs out again anyway. A lot to be said for a proper job, especially as any decent place should do a leak test before wasting effort with gas.

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2 hours ago, twosmoke300 said:

I dont do aircon myself but i have a local mobile guy do the regas work . I have gauges and nitrogen test kit tho

 

Slight aside, but could you pm his details? Am also in Kernow and could do with mine sorting.

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My experience with them has been that if the system is just a little low it can be enough to get you going.  Beyond that though I've not had much luck with them.  Probably the most useful bit of the kit is the gauge which is useful to give an indication of whether the system can just be topped up or if it's flat as a pancake meaning a major leak needs sorting first.

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You could fart about at home and if the condenser is bollocksed then you’ve wasted £50 and an hour of your time. I’d just go with one of those ‘reduce the temp by x amt or your money back’ deals on Groupon. I’m all for DIY but sometimes it isn’t worth fannying about yourself.

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4 minutes ago, sierraman said:

You could fart about at home and if the condenser is bollocksed then you’ve wasted £50 and an hour of your time. I’d just go with one of those ‘reduce the temp by x amt or your money back’ deals on Groupon. I’m all for DIY but sometimes it isn’t worth fannying about yourself.

Precisely this.  Both of the garages I've been to who do AC work have a clear policy of "if it fails the leak test or doesn't work no charge."

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Just now, Zelandeth said:

Precisely this.  Both of the garages I've been to who do AC work have a clear policy of "if it fails the leak test or doesn't work no charge."

It was a bit like years ago National Tyres used to do an oil change for something like £15, it was about 50p less than you could buy the parts. Plus you’d all the mess to clean up. Icing on the cake was I could leave the car there all day while at work and save on parking. 

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Proper job is gas out……leak test……correct weight of gas back in with some lube. Fully automated and it will tell you how much gas was in there. Lack of use can cause loss of gas with time

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13 hours ago, alf892 said:

Proper job is gas out……leak test……correct weight of gas back in with some lube. Fully automated and it will tell you how much gas was in there. Lack of use can cause loss of gas with time

Yes, this. I tried (and feel I wasted) £50 at a place that does tyres. That lasted 5 minutes. 

£450 saw a proper test and repairs which is still good nearly six months later... 

Ye pays ye money... 🤑

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My air con doesn't do anything when it's actually warm, despite being refilled. If you don't know the history I'd pay the money to get it checked and then open your wallet more for whatever needs replacing. 

Unless your sure it just needs a regas m8 it'll be a gamble 

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To get an aircon system working properly, you need the correct amount of refrigerant in there. Checking the pressure will only tell you if you are very very low (no liquid at all)  or horrifically overfull (all liquid!)

Luckily, a system will work to some extent providing there is an amount of refrigerant in. Anything outside the correct spec will severely reduce the efficiency of the system, but it will produce some cold air.

These DIY bottles are a major bodge and basically contain some refrigerant, an amount that the manufacturer has decided will be enough to get most systems into a state where they will operate. 

As Alf says, the only proper way is to extract it all, vac down to dry the system and then refill with a tank on some scales until the manufacturer specified amount of refrigerant has gone into the system.

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ATS groupon offer is good if it works

Took the smart car in, passed the vac test so they gassed it , freezing, brilliant

didn't last 24 hours , took it back , yoof tested it , it's got no gas in it, no shit sherlock

They offered to re gas it for free if I got someone to fix it , this seems like a world of pain because if it fails again in a few days ATS will say it's not their fault and the repair guy could say it's something ATS did

Bottom line , use somebody who specialises in AC

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There must also be a special oil and an ultra violet liquid as well as the refrigerant put into the AC system  by the specialist. If there is a leak, it is visible with a UV torch. The UV liquid is useful to find  leaks elsewhere as well. I used a UV liquid in my central heating heating at home. It kept losing water pressure. More than one plumber could not find the leak so I had a go.  Using the UV,  it showed the boiler's heat exchanger had an internal leak as the UV was coming out of the condensate pipe outside the house.  Got a new boiler under guarantee!😃!

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  • 3 weeks later...
that allowing the refrigerant to vent to atmosphere is very illegal (and so by proxy, knowingly filling a leaking system too)


That is true in that it's illegal to deliberately do it. However many air duster cans for years contain hfc-134a which you are allowed to spray around liberally. Thankfully in the last few years (iirc 2018) have switched to less potent greenhouse gases.
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