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A/C stops working on 2012 Ford Escape 2-3 weeks after recharge/evacuation

Last summer, the A/C on our 2012 Ford Escape stopped blowing cold air. We took it to our mechanic (who I trust). They checked for leaks but found none. They did an evacuation and recharge of the system. Cold air started blowing again! Then 2-3 weeks later, my wife says she saw a puff of smoke come out of the vents (not sure if it was smoke or vapor or what). The A/C stopped blowing cold air shortly after that. We took it back to the mechanic. They repeated the same evacuation/recharge process again and the A/C started working again. 2-3 weeks later, we saw the same puff and then no cold air.

That happened last Fall, so we waited until this spring to try again. Just took it back to mechanic. They checked the levels and the pressure was good before they did anything else. No leaks. They did the evacuation/recharge and the air is now blowing cold again. But, I have no reason to think it will last.

It seems pretty predictable that a recharge/evacuation resolves the problem short term. Any ideas why it’s not lasting? What, if anything, could I try to diagnose? Seems that my mechanic does not know what else to try.

Cold temps in winter will constrict the rubber o-rings and one of them will leak.
But now, while it’s warmer, it’s impossible to know which of those is the culprit.
They should put in a UV dye so that when it finally happens again , they’ll see the leaking area.

My Explorer did this in 92/93/94…one 60 cent oring and it’s been good since.

Thanks Ken. Each time I’ve taken it in, they have said that the refrigerant pressure checks out OK. So they are saying there is no leak. Is it possible for it to be leaking but to have the pressure check out OK? Here is to hoping it’s a 60 cent o-ring…

Refrigerant pressure is OK, but no cooling? Or they charge it, then can’t find a leak? Your last post confused me.

If they have to add ANY freon, then there’s a leak, they just haven’t found it.

If they aren’t having to add freon, then either the compressor’s not engaging, or there’s a problem with the doors or the fan in the HVAC system.

Any good shop should be able to trace this down.

There are shops that specialize in A/C systems. I think you want one of those at this point.

Definitely dye should be added so that any leaks can be found.

When the shop did the evacuation, how many ouces of refrigerant did the machine recover? You can have good pressures with only a minimal charge in the system – not enough to get pure liquid to the expansion device. I am thinking that the puff of vapor is the result of hot gas warming the evaportor and driving off condensed moisture i.e. the receiver/dryer is running short of liquid.

Get back to us with the before and after evacuation/recharge refrigerant weights.

I’m also thinking there’s a leak

Countless times I’ve encountered good pressures, yet when I recover, the system had only 1/2 charge

Clearly, the thing to do is look for obvious leaks first . . . green and/or greasy components . . . then recharge the system and add uv dye

let it run for awhile, then look for leaks

If none are found, check again in a few months. But I’m guessing, since the recharge only helps for a few weeks, the leak will make itself known fairly quickly

I’d look at the paperwork to determine how many ounces were recovered. Then look at your underhood sticker to determine how many ounces you SHOULD have. Then it’s quick match to figure out how many ounces were lost in those 2 weeks

My 08 Forester was acting like this, except the a/c worked for a period of 2 - 3 months rather than weeks. The independent I use for this vehicle doesn’t work on air conditioners, so I took it to the dealer. Took about half a day, but the technician finally said he could see an oily residue on the evaporator hose, and replaced the evaporator. No problems since then (two years ago).

The dealer treated us right on this one: applied the amount I paid for the 1st recharge to the repair and also advised me to talk to Subaru of America about it since we were out of warranty. Without much argument, SOA sent me a check for $500 towards the repair.

Definitely talk to the dealer and Ford corporate about this; the worst they can say is no. Who knows, you might get lucky like I did.


Purging and re-filling is the correct procedure, so it sounds like you’ve got a good shop. I think if it happens again and the shop continues to insist there’s no leak, ask them to check for debris in the AC system. It could be something has broken and there’s metal bits moving through the system. That could explain why it works for a while, then stops working. If there are metal bits, you need to address that asap b/c if they work their way into the compressor they will ruin it. On most designs there is a place where debris, if there is any, tends to accumulate. Your shop should know where that spot it for your car’s AC design.

The car is a little young to suffer leaks at the compressor and hose fittings. Has it been verified there are no leaks at the service port fittings? (These are the ports where the gauges are connected. Sometimes they can get a little stupid and leak profusely.)

I would be curious about the system static pressures. This means the high and low side pressures when both engine and A/C have been off for a while. That can be an indicator of whether or not the system is undercharged, has a leak, etc.

ANY good A/C shop will solve this riddle in short order…its all they do. Debris in the system will quickly plug the tiny orifices in the system. There are shops that wont throw their hands up so quickly. This is called “diagnosing and fixing the problem”.


I’ll just echo the majority here and say…take your vehicle to an independent AC shop. That’s where you will get the problem resolved.

I think the “puff of smoke” coming out of the vents is unrelated. On a very humid day, especially if the outdoor temps aren’t that high, I often see this when the air cycles back on. Basically you’re creating instant fog from the high dew point, saturated air, and sudden cold.

It’s possible one of the pressure sensors is sticking and the evac/recharge ‘nudged’ it into working again. Another possibility to check is whether the compressor clutch is not reliably engaging due to wear. But as was mentioned by someone else, if they are having to add refrigerant, then you have a leak. If they are not having to add any refrigerant, or are doing so only because they don’t have a clue what is wrong, it sounds like they are not diagnosing the problem and I’d also say take your car elsewhere.

Thank you so much for the feedback thus far. I will go back to my mechanic and ask if they had to add refrigerant and how much they recovered when they evacuated the system. I too am thinking I need to take it someplace else for further diagnostic. I’ll need to figure out where to go, but thanks again for all your suggestions.

If I find something out from my mechanic, I’ll give you guys an update. I’ll also update when I get a resolution to the problem.

Dan - Did you ever get to the bottom of this? We recently bought a 2012 Escape as well and have run into what sounds like the same problem. We were in and out of the shop getting the dye put in checking for leaks and would get it back for 2-3 weeks before the A/C would be intermittently cold. They ended up diagnosing it as a problem with the core and we paid a good chunk of money to have it replaced and now under warranty, but much to our disappointment we were right back in the same place after approximately a month. Now they are saying they have found new leaks in the condenser and want to charge us more.
Just wondering if you ever found a fix???