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Question about fixing the air conditioner in a 2004 Toyota Sienna LE minivan

Hey All - I have an 8 year old Toyota Sienna LE minivan. This past weekend I tried running the air conditioner when the temperature was in the low 80’s (F) outside. Unfortunately, the AC only blew hot air, even though I drove a pretty long distance with the AC on.

I think the refrigerant has leaked out and is depleted. I would like some advice on whether or not I should attempt to recharge the AC by myself with my neighbor’s assistance (he has all of the gear for recharging the refrigerant) or if this is a job that is better left to a professional.

Also, if I do attempt the job by myself, would it be better to try and seal the leaks with a dedicated sealant first, or should I use the canned refrigerant that also contains some kind of sealant?

Thanks in advance.


". . . (he has all of the gear for recharging the refrigerant) . . . "

I’m not even sure what this means, but the most important part isn’t the gear. The indivdual has to know what they are doing or this money savings attempt could wind up costing you a small fortune.

I vote for the pro on this one.


You can’t hurt anything by installing one or two cans of refrigerant as long as someone involved has a basic understanding of how automotive A/C systems work…

Forget “sealant” type products. Straight R-134a will be fine…

Before you recharge it maybe get the leak addressed.

Otherwise it would be akin to buying a few cans of refrigerant and throwing them into the trash can unfortunately.

I generally agree with Caddyman, but too much refrigerent is as bad as too little in my opinion. To get the right fill you really should draw a vacuum on the system and properly refill with the correct type and quantity of refrigerant.

I do agree with the advice to avoid adding any magic fixes to it.

In the long run you’ll likely end up wasting a lot more time and $$ trying to fuss with it yourself than if you just bite the bullet and find a good AC shop.

And its not really a DIY job - A/C systems are complicated and someone who really knows what they are doing should be the one working on it.

If you plan on keeping the car for a few years, I’d get the leak fixed and charged by a pro. If you don’t know a good mechanic, ask your friends and neighbors. Someone will show up several times, and they might be worth a shot. Or you could go to the dealer. They will probably be more expensive, but they will also know how to do the job correctly the first time.

Does your friend have a vacuum pump? If not, then he does not have all of the gear and actually, is missing the most crucial tool of them all.

Before recharging and wasting refrigerant, I would suggest pulling a vacuum on the system. Shut the gauges off and allow the vehicle to sit for half an hour.
At the end of that time check the gauges to see if there has been a loss of vacuum.
If there has been a loss then the leaks are serious and need to be repaired before going any further.

Your friend should understand the above.

Thanks all - I've scheduled an appointment with my local repair shop. They do good work with other aspects of the carand when I talked to the guy who schedules appointments (one of the owners) he gave a good overview of how they will inspect the AC system and check for leaks.