CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Putting ac into a truck that doesn't have ac

I have a 1989 Toyota pickup that is good shape and runs well. It does not have air conditioning but I would like to add this. This was optional on this truck.



How difficult would this be? How expensive would this likely be?



Thanks!

The only way I can see this working out is if you buy a complete truck with AC for next to nothing(for the parts) and do all the work yourself and place no monetary value on your time.

This one of those situations where putting lipstick on a cow might make it look better! But try putting the lipsick on!

If the vehicle never had AC, it would cost much more to have an AC system installed than what the vehicle is worth.

Tester

Once upon a time, a long time ago they made aftermarket AC units to add to cars without factory AC. They hung under the dash. I don’t know if they still make and install these units anymore, every car seems to come with factory AC these days.

I wouldn’t bother to try to install a factory AC system in your truck, just too much stuff to change and/or convert to make it work. If aftermarket AC units are still sold that might be worth the installation costs.

While I never did A/C installs on Toyotas, I have done quite a few dealer installed A/C systems on Hondas, Nissans, and Subarus along with a comparative few on VW and SAAB.

The systems are generally not that hard to do on the Asian vehicles. The best method is to contact a Toyota parts department and see if they have, or can get, a dealer unit. This will all come in one big box with a fold out sheet of instructions and considering the number of Toyota trucks made one would think there’s an A/C unit floating around out there. If the local dealer doesn’t have one it’s possible they may be able to find one from another dealer.

In my opinion, these kind of A/C units are like Lego blocks and they’re not hard to do at all. I’ve done a few Subaru and Nissan installs in about 2 hours, not counting the system evacuation and charging.
A half mechanically minded DIYer can easily do one in an afternoon and if you have it done it should generally run around 5 hours of labor, give or take.

J.C. Whitney still lists an add-on air conditioning unit that fits under the dashboard. These units are priced from $1000-$1350. Of course, one would have to find someone to install the unit. It probably wouldn’t be worthwhile in a 1989 vehicle. Apparently, the units are sized to fit the application, hence the range of prices.

I am glad you are not dispatching me this job :slight_smile:

Really if it really takes a trained man that has done the job before 5hrs, the customer should be seeing a bill for~8hrs labor.

Or are you saying you could do the job in 3hrs thats why a 5hr labor bill to the customer?

Heck its .9 just for a recover,evac,add dye and charge,then check for leaks.

How does this look? I have seen this done with both a generator and a high power inverter hooked up to the battery. Just make sure you have the inverter professionally installed if you go that route.

Some jobs paid less than 5 hours; some more. It all depended on the make/model and included evacuation, charge, and leak check.

There’s nothing wrong with becoming proficient in installing them and beating the time allowed anyway. What if the job really should only take 5 hours and a tech chose to spend 8 hours and bill the customer accordingly?

Back in the late 70s and well into the 80s many Subarus that were built in Japan and imported into the U.S. got A/C units that were installed (usually) at the port of entry. Some were installed at the dealerships per customer request.

You know how long it took the guys at the port to install an A/C unit? Forty-five minutes for the whole thing.
Two man teams with one guy doing the underhood part, another guy doing the interior stuff, and they got paid 20 bucks per man for each unit installed. And it showed many times.
Good money for those guys; losing proposition for the dealership line mechanics who had to weed out problems later.

What is not widely known is that those port units came with a 90 day warranty on the install. If a problem developed that did not surface until the day the customer bought the car (say day 110) the warranty had already expired unless the problem was due to a defective part. (seldom the case)
A lot of friction involved in those problems because the dealership techs were often coerced or BSed into fixing them for free. That’s what it boiled down to and the customer never knew this.

Oddly enough, that might actually be the cheapest solution. :stuck_out_tongue:

You know you always get the job done as fast as you can so you can go to the next. The idea is to flag more time that you are there,preferablely twice,not take the extra time to stand around.

For 20.00 I pull the part and put in in the truck bed.

The things that owners can do that the manufacture would be in court over.

Hmmm…hit the brakes, A/C in the back of the head…OUCH!

About 30 years ago there was a guy around here who used to drive an older Ford full sized station wagon.
This car was full of junk for the most part but the oddest thing of all was that he had a small cast iron pot-bellied stove in the very rear of the car.

The left rear glass had been removed, replaced with a piece of sheet metal, and he had a roughly 3 foot tall, 4" chimney pipe sticking out the top.
I’ve seen this car in the wintertime with smoke rolling out of the chimney.

CO poisoning would not be the issue (maybe) but one wonders what would happen if he plows into something and a 100 pounds or so of cast iron stove full of burning coals comes flying forward. And that stove was on the driver’s side of all things.
No idea if the stove was bolted down or not but even being bolted down would not be a guarantee the bolts would hold up during a collision.

I hope they installed it in a way to prevent that.

Back in the late 70s and well into the 80s many Subarus that were built in Japan and imported into the U.S. got A/C units that were installed (usually) at the port of entry. Some were installed at the dealerships per customer request.

Didn’t have to go back that far for Nissan. My 90 Pathfinder had Factory AC installed at the dealer when I bought it. Only the higher-end models came with AC installed at the plant. They were doing it that way into the Mid-90’s.

I put an A/C kit in my '79 chevy pickup around 1984.
I’m just a parts man handy with hand tools, yet the job was nuts & bolts easy. Then I had my shop guys charge it up ( r12 ) and it’s perfect to this day.

Buy a kit for your application and all will be well.

It’s too bad that this person with the old Ford station wagon didn’t adapt a boiler to the cast iron stove and use the steam to drive a turbine. This turbine could be used to assist the gasoline engine in propelling the car. This would be different type of hybrid. I wonder how the energy consumption would be computed in this case–miles per gallon of gasoline and miles per ton of coal?

I hope that this person with the cast iron stove had a scrubber on the chimney pipe to keep the environmentalists off his back.

The environmentalists will be whining about the un-filtered coal emissions either way.