Camry A/C service - not cheap



First-timer here. Thanks now to anyone who’d care to comment on my question. I’m by no means an automotive engineering savant, so here goes. My mechanic tells me the expansion valve in my '97 Camry’s A/C system is bad, but that it could be worse–the “plumbing” seems to be free of moisture. Here’s the thing: he’s citing costs of about $250 for genuine Toyota replacement parts and about $500 in labor, for a total repair bill of around $800. Can an informed reader tell me whether that sounds reasonable?


I don’t know if it’s “reasonable” but it’s not surprising. They will have to evacuate and flush the system, replace the valve, and recharge the system. It sounds like they are charging you for about 5 hours of labor. I can’t seem to go near an AC system without spending $1000.


That’s a really bad rip-off. The expansion valve is only about $50 or so. A new filter drier is about $15-$30. Polyol ester oil is about $20 for one 20oz can. R134a is about $8 per can.
It is not necessary to flush the system unless the compressor burned out.
A good tech can replace the expansion valve and filter drier, change the oil, and start the vacuuming in less than an hour. It takes minutes to charge the system. They probably included the “vacuum hours” into the labor estimate when most of the evacuation process requires no actual work.

Check with some other HVAC shops for estimates.


I’d question the need for “genuine Toyota parts,” but other than that it’s not too bad. The labor can be high on these jobs, because some of the AC components are hard to get at, and in some cases most of the dashboard has to come out.

I’d ask the mechanic to price a non-Toyota valve and see how much difference it makes. You don’t need factory new parts in a ten year old car.


Thanks for the helpful feedback. This non-dealer shop is one of those whose stated policy is “we only use genuine OEM parts” in the makes they’re certified to service, and they’ve treated me right before. I just had no basis for judging the estimated costs.


Hey, I hear that! You know, I really don’t think these guys are ripping me off; still, whenever I get an estimate that tops $500, I get kind of choked up, if you know what I mean.


It would be a good idea to flush out 10 year oil, the moisture it has collected will never vacuum out.


You certainly can’t go wrong with OEM parts, but they do cost more.


Two comments.
One is to ask what the A/C symptoms are and how sure is the mechanic that the problem is the expansion valve?

The other is to advise you to ignore any of Star882s posts in regards to A/C problems. He is absolutely clueless in regards to automotive A/C systems and continues to try and dazzle with non-related BS.


Just because it’s old oil doesn’t mean it has lots of moisture. Although polyol ester oil (as used with R134a) absorbs moisture about 10 times as much as mineral oils (as used with R12 and R22), it still must have a place to absorb moisture from. An A/C system will have very, very little moisture in it if a good vacuum is pulled when it’s assembled. Assuming the system has no leaks, it will have as much moisture in it as it did the day it was put together.

Besides, most of the oil is in the compressor so simply removing the compressor to change the oil will change almost all of the oil in the system. Any moisture that can possibly be in the oil remaining will be diluted. The filter drier takes care of that.


Thanks for the useful advice.