Lexus Air Conditioning Advice Needed


I am in process of purchasing a 1993 Lexus SC 400 with low 80,000 miles. I just discovered the AC is not working and since the dealer no longer carries R12, he wants to replace the entire system for R134 for $2500. The neighborhood shop wants to add freeze 12, then test. I don’t know what to do. My impulse is to find someone with R12, then see if it goes bad again.


I don’t like either of those options. I would suggest updating the system. Our Toyota also was in that situation and a local radiator - A/C shop I have known for over 40 years did the switch out for about $800.00 a few years ago. I think if you do a little more shopping you can get the equivalent. We have had no problems with it.


Just have the system updated to R134. Do not have Freeze 12 installed, many shops(including mine) will not service a system with unknown or suspicous freon in the system.


$2500?!?!?! What a rip-off!! DO NOT LET THEM DO IT! Go to a reputable shop that handles A/C. If the problem is just a leak, the whole thing can be done for $200. If there are any other problems, they must be fixed first. $2500 means they will replace everything in the A/C system just to cover their backsides. But, you probably don’t need to go to that extreme.


You are rapidly getting acquainted with the high cost of old Lexus ownership. If you are still “in the process” of buying this car, you may want to stop the process.

Even $800 to do an R134a swap seems high to me. What are they changing, and are they using gold plated refrigerant?


Ask some more HVAC shops about a conversion to R134a. It just involves recovering the remaining R12, flushing the old mineral oil out of the system, checking and fixing leaks, replacing the filter drier, adding polyol ester oil, pulling a vacuum, and finally adding R134a.


If you think 80,000 is “low mileage” you are deluding yourself. This is a 15 year old car. The failed A/C is just the beginning. If you in fact own this car, good luck. If you don’t own it, walk away.


Agreed with Willey. Forget the R12 and the Freeze 12; go with the 134.

If the system has been inoperative for a long time I would give it a shot as is other than changing the drier and installing a new compressor shaft seal. The latter is the cause of most leaks and it’s not that hard to do.

Evacuate, recharge, check for leaks, and see what happens. This should not run an obscenely large amount of money.


Since a Lexus is essentially a Camry in expensive clothing, most systems should be identical, including the A/C. A competent (emphasis on competent) A/C shop should be able to do the R134A conversion for far, far less than $2500. There are even kits to do it yourself… although if you’ve never tackled repairs, aren’t familiar with air conditioning at all, I’d have a shop do it.