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A/C System question

Hi folks. My 2000 Silhouette (145K, dual front/rear HVAC) is at the local A/C shop - this is the kind of place that other mechanics send their work to when they can’t figure it out.

It wasn’t cooling well. Apparently the high pressure port was leaking so the system would keep some pressure, but not nearly enough to make it all work well.

They replaced both ports, tested for contaminants/sealers, evacuated & recharged and all seems well.

They mention that they also recommend replacing the accumulator. Having had this explained to me I do understand why. I’m into this for about $300 & that job will add another $250 or so. I don’t doubt that it is the “smartest” thing to do over the long run.

But here’s my thing - I hate this van. I am no stranger to old, high mileage vehicles and their issues. But this one is basically the biggest PITA I have ever owned. It needs constant attention. I would not still own it but finances are such that I can’t do much else right now. However, getting rid of it is on my list of important things to do in life. If I was happy with the van, I’d grit my teeth & drop the rest of the $$.

This shop is widely known as the best shop anywhere. I have learned that they are perfectionists - they don’t do anything unless its exactly right. I just wonder if the recommendation is mostly reserved for the perfectionists, and if 9/10 people get repairs like this done and usually drive on without any accumulator issues.

Any thoughts/experiences welcome. Thanks.

I’m thinking the ‘accumulator’ also include the ‘drier’, which, over time, can lose effectiveness. If they’ve already fixed the problem and it 's working fine, I wouldn’t go back to have it replaced (especially since you sound ready to sell). If it would be done as part of the repair, I might, if I was keeping the van for a few more years.

It is indeed the “accumulator/drier.” The guy actually mentioned that they figure they’re only good for 3-4 years. It seems like they basically look at it as a filter that regularly gets changed (I guess that’s sort of like what it is). But I’m not familiar with thinking of it that way - as in having it changed out every few years.

The issue about whether to do it is more about how likely I’ll be to be standing around in a month cussing myself for wasting the $300 on getting the system working only to have the accumulator blow the dessicant all over inside the whole system - or whatever it does. If its likely to go through this summer I probably won’t look back.

Why did they recommend to replace the accumlator AFTER the repairs were done? It should have been done while the system was open for the repairs they did.

Are they going to charge you again to recharge the system after they replace the accumulator?

As for the accumulator being good for only 3-4 years - that’s not true. If the system is sealed and has not been exposed to air it should never have to be replaced. I’ve owned cars for 10 years or more with over 100,000 miles and the accumulator was never replaced and the AC worked just fine.

I was wondering why the accumulator never came up before. However, I think that is my own fault. I basically said that if I had to get into serious AC repairs then I probably wouldn’t b/c the van isn’t worth it. I pretty much told them to do the minimum required to find out about whether the system was basically sound (e.g. lest I then learn that I also needed a compressor or something). Their minimum was to fix the port leak & recharge. They did that - all seemed well. So the system is basically sound. At that point they mentioned the accumulator.

I would leave it alone for now. If you need another repair to the AC down the road and you decide to do it, then I would replace the accumulator. In fact I would consider that in with the decision to repair.

How can you be a “perfectionist” when you are working on something that was junk to begin with?? No other A/C system has the failure and repair problems that automotive systems have…

A/C is the cash-cow of auto-repair…Always has been…Next year, we get ANOTHER new refrigerant, 10 times more expensive than R-134a…

Do you know how big a home air conditioner you can buy for $550.00?

Well Caddyman, there’s that perhaps now-famous picture of a home window AC unit mounted in a car. (I don’t have a copy but folks have posted it here before). The thought did cross my mind! A hundred or 2 bucks at Walmart, a power inverter, a little duct tape - I’d be good to go.


And I got it wrong earlier (I’m not very knowledgeable on AC systems) - I guess that some refer to an accumulator as an “accumulator/drier” but a drier is a separate thing on the high side - accumulator on low. I believe I only have an accumulator. I am now not entirely certain what the guy was saying on the phone & he was unavailable when I picked up the van. They want it back in 2 weeks to check again for leaks so I’ll try to get the story straight then.

Anyway, I think I am just going to let it ride for now, as has pretty much been suggested so far.

Many thanks for the input

It is accumulator on the low side using an orfice tube for metering and a drier/reciever on the high side using an expansion valve. Drier/reciever systems are overall smaller and fit in smaller cars better.

No way would I spend the money on an accumulator on a 2000 Olds,and I am an “always replace accumulator” person, unless this mini-van is going to stick around. Year 2000 was better than the introduction models but they are pretty low level in just about every area.