92 Honda Accord air conditioning

Hi- Is there any way to tell BEFORE charging (recharging?) the air conditioning whether there is a big leak? I had it charged last Monday and by Friday it wasn’t cold. I brought it back to the shop today and was told that the pressure was back down to zero, and leaks were most likely the reason. Over $325.00 for nothing really hurts (I can’t afford to get the leaks fixed!)–could this have been predicted, or is it just bad luck?

thanks for any info!

The car is 16 years old, so it’s not surprising there is a leak or two. The refrigerant had to go somewhere or you wouldn’t have needed to have the system recharged. The shop should have told you this before doing the work so you could make an informed decision as to whether to proceed or not.

Yes, I wish they did!

–but do you mean that there wasn’t any way to know the extent of the leaks before actually having the system charged (other than expensive diagnostic tests, etc.?)

thanks again.

YES! they can ,they just have to pull a vacuum,and wait to see the results of the test. alot of guys skip that little step.

A good mechanic/shop would check for leaks before charging. Take it to someone you can trust.

is pulling a vacuum something simple to do, or is it expensive? I’m wondering why they didn’t do it or suggest it. (yes, I know nothing about cars!)

Yes it’s simple for a tech,with a proper machine,or it can be done the old school way,with gauges and a vac pump,it does not cost anything,its supposed to be part of the A/C check,and it wasnt.I would never charge a car if I knew it had a leak.but thats me.some guys just skip that step.so long story short I would take it back and see if they will work with you to resolve this issue. but you have to remember ,the leak could have started after the charge,in that case its not their fault,and very hard to prove.but the way I see it is the system was empty when they checked it,so this should tell the tech there is a leak(somewhere) right off the bat.

good luck

This smells! The shop has given you NOTHING for your money. This borders on fraud. You should give them two choices: either give you your money’s worth, or see them in small claims court.

Considering the vehicle’s age it may have several leaks. The usual culprit is the compressor shaft seal.
The way this process should be done is is that a vacuum should be pulled on the system, the gauges shut off, and the vehicle allowed to sit for 15-20 minutes. If there is a leak the vacuum will disappear in that length of time.
This saves a lot of aggravation and the possible loss of any refrigerant; which in your case should be R-12 if it has not been converted. As you know, R12 is expensive.

I think the shop is at fault here for not doing a proper repair and you could possibly bring up the fact that both the Feds and state frown a lot on throwing refrigerant into a leaking system which allows the refrigerant to be instantly dumped into the atmosphere.

Inspecting for leaks is part of any recharging job. The cost of repairing the leak should not be included in the inspection but again, that’s all easily verified by pulling a vacuum originally and followed up by using a refrigerant sniffer to make doubly sure there’s no problems. They owe you IMHO.

Thank you everyone for all the info!
I thought something was wrong about this situation, so I really appreciate hearing it could have (should have) been done differently.
Thanks again!

one more question please-- I just looked at my itemized bill and it says “hook up air condition pressure gauges and install refrigerant substitute.”
Does that mean they DID pull the vacuum?

One thing they should have assumed is that if the system was empty then obviously it has a major leak. Their job then should be to add a bit of refrigerant and use a sniffer to determine where it’s at.

They probably did pull a vacuum, which should always be done. The problem is that instead of allowing the vehicle to sit for a bit to verify that vacuum is being lost they apparently went ahead and charged the system while hoping for the best.
It’s also possible that they simply slapped the gauges on the car and charged it up without pulling a vacuum on it. For simply charging the system (even including pulling a vacuum on it) the price you were charged seems awfully high.

The “refrigerant substitute” could mean anything; from an R134 conversion to the use of any one of a number of R12 substitutes such as Freeze 12, R 406A, etc.