Adding freon with bad A/C Compressor

Compressor bad in 97 Lumina and dye shows freon leak. Will repeating freon charges keep me going till next Summer?

Adding freon is not going to fix the compressor. You might as well just have it fixed.

No. You are just wasting your money by repeatedly charging the system. Plus any reputable shop will not charge a leaking system due to the laws governing the release of freon in to the atmosphere.

I’m pretty sure that a 97 would have R-134, and not R-12 (Freon).

As you allow the leak to continue and keep recharging the system, you are allowing more and more moisture into the system. Instead of replacing the compressor now, you may be replacing the entire system several months from now. It would be cheaper (even if you have to borrow the money) to fix it now.

Thanks. Mechanic says warranty won’t cove Compressor unles the whole sysytem is replaced, so it’s big bucks anyway - $1,000 plus. I just need to get to next Summer - disabled, low income, but next Summer I’ll have the money. Should I do only the Compressor and not worry about warranty?

Whether R12 or R134a is used in the AC system, it’s against EPA regulations to release it into the atmosphere.


What makes you say that the compressor is bad? Or did a shop tell you that the compressor is bad?

It may be that the “replace the whole system” is a manufacturer’s specification for a valid warranty. But it may just be the shop you are at. A good AC shop can replace a compressor without replacing everything else all at once. You just have to know how to prep the rest of the system so that problems there (moisture, debris) don’t wreck the new compressor.

Maybe you should get another opinion.

I would save the money until you really NEEDED the A/C… Why fix it now?

Since you are just repairing a leaking seal, not a blown up compressor, there is no contamination in your system to warrant replacing the whole thing. Just replace the compressor, have the system evacuated and recharged and drive on…

Mechanic says warranty won’t cove Compressor unles the whole sysytem is replaced…

That’s ridiculous. Find another mechanic who will include a reasonable warranty.

Yes, I’m sorry I should have made my point [more] clearly. If it’s R-134, the OP can put it in themselves and avoid any legal issues with a shop. I assume that it is still illegal for an individual to be releasing R-134, but I’m sure it is never enforced.

I will be the odd man out and relate to you that many peple do exactly as you want to do to get a little extra time out of their system, without issue. The problem is you want this Forum to tell you it is OK to do it and there seems to be some resistance.

If the compressor is simply leaking, no need to “repair entire system”, this is the procedure if the compressor exploded internaly. You make the call yourself about the environmental damage, and when you can replace the compressor just do it, the accumulator and the orfice tube.

I can go with you there oldschool - but there is still no clarity on whether the compressor works or not. If not, then there isn’t much point in messing around with the refrigerant.

Just learned the compressor has an internal leak. Is this the explosion you mentioned? The leak is slow, how slow I don’t know.

What’s the best way to preserve freon - not idling at stops e.g?

Thanks for everyone’s help. I’ve put a lot of money into this car.

Compressors usually leak around the body seals or the shaft seal. The former means a compressor replacement and it’s possible to replace the shaft seal without a compressor replacement IF the shaft seal is the only thing leaking.

I think there’s some misinterpretation about what the mechanic said. Obviously they’re not replacing the entire system. What is meant is that with a compressor replacement the system should be flushed thoroughly, the accumulator or drier replaced, etc.
Even a parts warranty will not cover a new compressor that is damaged because someone failed to change the accumulator or drier, did not flush the system, etc.

It’s no different than installing a new fuel pump and allowing an old clogged fuel filter to remain in place.

I don’t know what an “internal leak” could mean (never liked this term with any system) what I do know is the compressor on your car likes to leak where the housing sections of the compressor join, very, very common. You can usually see a grey discoloration on the housing where the refridgerant/oil has touched the housing, you will not see an oil trail like in a R-12 system. Theses leaks can be substancial and cause a vehicle to lose its charge in as short as 3 weeks, but also can be quite slow. A technical case can probably be made for what you can do in terms of shutting the AC off in certain circumstances but praticaly I think the rate of leakage is pretty much out of your hands. Common problem, easy fix, paying for it is the difficulity.

Are you saying that the manufacturer will warranty the compressor even if the condenser and other parts art not replaced, as long as the flushing protocol is done?

Does anyone know of an alternative way to keep cool if the A/C is a no-go? Are there portable A/C’s that can be used in a car?

I once saw a a one ton crew-cab pick-up with a window air conditioner mounted in the sliding rear window. The unit was plugged into a small A/C generator humming away in the bed. The guy pulled into the same gas station I was heading for so I asked him about his unique system. His reply: “They wanted $1200 to fix the one in the truck, so I went to Walmart and bought that one for $129 and then over to Harbor Freight where I got the generator for $299”…

That should tell you something about the profit margins involved with automotive A/C systems…