A car update, an apology and good news/badnews

Well first off I must say thanks for all of the help here with my questions, We ended up buying her… are you ready… A prius. Yes a prius. A civic was the first choice and we just about pulled the trigger on it but it wasnt meant to be. The prius is actually a wonderful car, I must say its a technological marvel, Honestly. Its a fascinating car, it drives nice, the a/c is cold although it takes a while to start making progress but this is like any new vehicle nowadays.

The civic was in horrible shape, it had a salvage title, and it seen little love in its 180k miles. It was abused and did better than most cars would have.

I get angry about things, I fly off the handle and make irrational comments and fall back to my old ignorant redneck self, for this I am sorry. I have always done this, I probably still will, but I am getting better at controlling myself.

I bought The caprice as a “toy”. Its a nice old car and i enjoy those type of vehicles. She actually drove it to work a few times and hated it, but did admit it had sofa-like seats. The only problem with the caprice is the a/c. It has been converted and will probably never be its old r-12 self.

So when I want to revert back to the “good-ol-days” I drive the caprice, when we want to enjoy the best that todays technology can provide we drive the prius.

The Prius is an absolutely phenomenal car, even though I get crap from my coworkers when I drive it to work.

So thanks folks!

P.S. (heres my stubborn self coming out)

I will admit drum brakes time has past, however I will argue that they just fine for the time, though times change. So now Im in love with a car that uses regenerative braking, it barely uses any brake lining at all, it stops mostly using regen braking.

Psss… I really did trade beer for brakes in the 90’s. I didn’t drink, but I found it was cheaper to go buy a case of beer for my old mechanic friend to reline my shoes. To fully appreciate this you have to understand the part of Indiana where this happened at the time was at least 20 years behind the times, its better now than it used to be, but in the 1990’s it was like walking back in time to the 1960’s. There were good and bad things about this, overall it was probably a bad thing, but its just the way it was.

My ex bought a Prius. They are both gone. Good riddance. So that may tell you what I think about buying a Prius.

With some possible tweaking it would seem to me that the Caprice could be made to put out some pretty cold air using R134.
Without knowing a lot of detail, it’s impossible to offer advice about what to do to make it frigid.

On a few conversions I’ve had to wrestle the pressures a bit but once done the A/C systems worked great. One in particular was an old Mercury Sable I owned and I had to tweak the orifice tube a few times with the last one being a homemade tube I made on the metal lathe.
After 10 minutes of highway running with the A/C on max that puppy would put out 25 degree vent air on a 100+ degree day and lead to complaints about turning it down some.


Whats wrong with the prius? Was it unreliable? Was it slow? What do you drive now Cavell?

My guess is that you will be driving the Prius more and the Caprice less as time goes on. I had a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon with the 4-4-2 trim package that I purchased new in October of 1978 and kept the car until October of 2011. It was our good car for its first 10 years and then was reduced to second car status. Our son took the car to college which was 50 miles away for his first year. However, he was accepted into an Appalachian studies program the first term of his second year and I was not going to send him out in the car for the 300 mile trip, so we put him in a newer vehicle and the Oldsmobile came back home. I did use it to drive back and forth to work, but found I was taking our newer minivan more and more often since the air conditioning had finally given up. Its last year, the Oldsmobile became the vehicle I used to attend functions where university administrators were present. As a faculty member, it was important to go looking poor so that we wouldn’t hear that we were overpaid.


Concerning the Caprice AC

Only charge to 80% of the old R12 capacity.

Example: If it had 48 ounces of R12, you charge only 38 ounces of R-134a

You may need a bigger condenser and a supplemental electric condenser fan

I think you’ll find the Prius to be a low-maintenance dependable vehicle. It’s among the most reliable vehicles Toyota has ever made. It’s economical to drive, battery packs are lasting far longer than anticipated, and maintenance costs can be quite low. Since the brake pedal isn’t connected to the brake system you’ll find that you’ll get forever on a set of brake pads. Tires are cheaper than a Silverado or Trailblazer. Some of the maintenance will be out of your hands since you need a scan tool to do things like service the coolant, but that’s a small trade off.

I’ve never been happy with R134 conversions on older cars. After a few years of doing it I won’t ever do it again. They just don’t work right. Until last year I was still repairing and recharging with R-12. I’m on the fence about buying more R12 this year, just don’t have the demand for it anymore. If I remember, your Caprice just isn’t up to the job of cooling well with 134. Tired compressor, condenser may need to be upgraded, system drained and flushed, fooling with orifice tubes, if it works well enough to take the edge off the heat I’d live with it.


I will probably just live with the caprice the way it is, its nothing but a toy at this point, and I don’t use a/c except for 2 months here anyway.

Just curious, and im not doubting you at all, im just trying to figure out why you need a scan tool to change the coolant, does it have to do with the electric water pump?

fwiw, that diplomat was hard to pass up, it was in near mint condition, but it was all original, low mile, as we know all original can be a bad thing…

I am considering a prius for myself, I have actually fallen in love with the car.

Yes, there’s an electric water pump that’s used to circulate coolant to the heater when the engine is not running, but after you drain and fill the cooling system you need to run the engine to operating temperature and have the thermostat open to get all the air pockets out. A Prius doesn’t idle, right? You need to out the powertrain into service mode to keep the engine running when you’re not driving. There may be another way to get into service mode but since I have the scan tool I don’t know.

Don’t feel bad about loving the Prius. Car guys love all kinds of cars, from old Camaros with drum brakes to Priuses with regen brakes. Well maybe not Diplomats.

@WheresRick: I’m no fan of the Prius personally, but to each their own. Might I mention that I suspect you might fall in love with almost any current vehicle? Auto technology has come a long way since the Caprices and Diplomats of yesteryear. Though new isn’t always better, that’s for sure.

@asemaster: I’d agree that the Diplomat was a pretty poor effort, and I like Mopar. But you have to admit that the 318 V8 and 727 transmission combo is about the most bulletproof powertrain in existence.

Oh, I agree that the 318 was a fine engine and almost bulletproof. But a Diplomat with a smogged-out 318 might have been good for maybe 130 hp, and the “lean burn” system was a trouble-prone joke. Now an older 318 with an AFB…you could have some fun.

@asemaster: I totally agree. The horsepower ratings in those dark years were shameful, and not just for Mopar but all the big three. I remember Corvettes with just barely 200 HP, same with Caddies with 500 cid big blocks making about 210. Most 4 bangers had double-digit HP ratings. A “police package” Diplomat was rated at under 200 as I recall, and police departments were pretty disappointed with them. If they were chasing an older car with a big block and no smog controls, forget it.

Glad we’ve entered a new age of performance where even a 4 cylinder cheapo minivan puts out more juice than that. Sad that you could outrun most everything on the road from that era with a base model econobox these days.

Unfortunately the horsepower to knucklehead ratio is higher these days…

I test drove a prius once. It was quiet, comfortable, and i like the dash design,but that’s all nice things I can say about it, everything on it just felt too soft. The whole time i drove it, i wished it had no power steering and power brake. It is a great car with proven technology, just not my cup of tea.

As a trivia, you can buy 60s technology with new car smell, when Tata sells the nano in the states. It comes with an aIr cooled pushrod v twin, four on the floor, and, wait for it, four wheel drum brakes.

@WheresRick I’m glad I did not convert my Caprice A/C to the 134 type. The standard unit put out an Arctic blast with the fan on high, but the gas mileage suffered.

I did need an annual top up or R12 for about $50 or so at a specialty shop.