Need help w/ a/c repair


I have had 2 quotes to fix the a/c in my 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan.

One is from a repair shop that we have used for a while.

They say they can’t find the leak and we need belts, flushes on the oil and a/c, evaporator, EPA, recharge, r&rvalve. all sorts of things and it will be $1,800.

Quote #2 is a mechanic uncle of a good friend of my best friend. She lets him work on her car & trusts him.

He said we need a new compressor. $600.00.

The 1st place said the compressor is working!

Uggh! We cant afford to pay for another estimate! Who do we trust? Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?



There were problems with the evaporators leaking in these vehicles. The dash has to be largely disassembled to replace it, resulting in high labor costs.

How about a third opinion from a shop that specializes in a/c? Does the a/c work at all?


The first shop said the same thing about these vehicles, and the dash being disassembled.
We have discussed a 3rd opinion, but can’t afford to pay another fee.
There is air blowing air out but it does not get cold at all. The 1st shop put a lb. of freeon in it, and it still does not get cold.


Can only agree that any estimate must be from a AC speciality shop.Did the guy that wants to replace the compressor identify the leak at the compressor? The first shop should have found it if so,compressors are in the easier to identify leak area. Does the compressor guy have all the AC equipment?(not a shade tree guy). The whole job (and I mean everything with a no other leak warranty(or garantee)with compressor replacement does not sound bad. Ask if the compressor is new or rebuilt (for that price sounds like rebuilt)Compressor can leak and still work. Post back a list of just what the compressor guy is going to do. And what parts he is including. Then we can say use him or not (you are the one who has to decide on the trust character issue for the compressor guy) I can tell you if his plan for the job is a good one.


Guy with compressor only looked at it in the parking lot during a tee ball game. Did not say anything about finding a leak in the compressor, just said it does not work. He says if he replaces it & that is not the problem, no charge for us. As far as I know, he is just going to replace the compressor.
The other auto shop said compressor is STILL working, just need all the other stuff.
1st shop also said they cant find the leak and their freon thingee is detecting freon all over the car.


A compressor can work fine and still leak. The usual leakage point on a compressor is the shaft seal which can be replaced separately. Most seal kits run about 20-50 dollars, depending.
Another potential leak area is the service valves. A missing cap, leaking Schrader valve, etc. can cause refrigerant loss and a problem in this area is easily fixed.

I certainly would not allow someone to work on it who says they can’t find a leak and are prepared to plow blindly ahead with an 1800 dollar wild guess.

Look at the bottom front edge of the compressor and around the compressor clutch. If it’s oily then odds are the seal is leaking.
Dye can be used to check for leaks but I prefer an electronic sniffer. Surely someone is at least going this far with it?


1800$ dollar auto shop says their sniffer picks up freon all over the car. they cant pinpoint leak, thats why dashboard has to be taken apart. They say compressor is fine, everything else about a/c needs to be fixed.
Other guy says only compressor needs to be replaced, but he only did 5 minute look into engine.


If the system is allegedly leaking that bad then they should add a can of dye with some refrigerant, have you drive the car for a few days, and then check it with an ultraviolet light.

JMHO, but that should be done before spending that kind of money on an unknown.
For what it’s worth, an electronic sniffer can sometimes appear to go haywire unless care is used. Clogged tip, air currents in the shop, etc. can affect it.
I’ve got an electronic sniffer that was going nuts on a car one time and the problem was not even the car being checked. It was discovered that a valve on a propane tank about a block away was leaking and wind was wafting propane into the shop.

An evaporator can also be tested by closing the car up and using a sniffer to probe one of the dash vents along with the evaporator drain hose. Bottom line; there should not be much guess work here at all.


I don’t agree with the 5 minute check. Low refridgerant keeps the compressor from working. If the lack of cycling is what he saw it can be very deceiving. Get a 3rd opinion from an a/c or radiator specialist. If proper gauges and procedures are used it could be a cheaper fix.