R-12 availability


Up here in Canada, it’s impossible to get any R-12 refrigerant anymore, even just to recharge a system. I’ve spoken to dealer service departments about changing over to R-134a, but the cost will be rather prohibitive if any additional parts have to be changed because of wear/damage.

I’ve gleaned from this board that some people can still recharge their R-12 systems in the US. Is this really the case? Does it vary state by state?


Are there Walmart stores in Canada? Walmart has the R134a conversion kit for $30 U.S. dollars. South of the U.S. border, R12 is still being produced. Every so often, it’s in the news that someone tried to “import” a shipment of R12 into the U.S. It’s entry is “refused”.


You may be being fed a line in regards to the bit about prohibitive costs and wear/damage. In some cases, maybe.
If you’ve heard things about 134 eating O-rings and seeping through rubber hoses then forget that. I have not found it to be the case.
Many times conversion leaks are blamed on the 134 without any thought to the fact that by the time a system needs conversion the old O-rings and hoses may be leaking due to sheer age.

Often conversion is no more difficult than flushing the system out and recharging with 134 along with using the proper oil; whether it’s Ester oil or PAG oil.

The only thing to watch out for when recharging is making sure the high side pressure does not climb too high. It’s always possible that one may have to change a condenser, fan set-up, or expansion valve/orifice tube, etc. but after doing a lot of conversions I’ve seldom had the need to do this.
And when done right, 134 will cool as adequately as R12 in case that story pops up.

JMHO anyway.


It’s still available on eBay. I’ve stockpiled enough to keep my ‘89 Toyota pickup chillin’ for the rest of it’s lifespan (which could be a while since it only has 104K miles). From my own experience, an R-12 system converted to 134 doesn’t cool as well as a system designed for 134. So I’m going to keep using R12 in the Toy, even if I have to open the system for repairs. I’ve got 16 cans stashed.


R-12 is available in the U.S. with a “license” and is always for sale on ebay, anyway. I have two cars that use R-12 and currently pay about $50/pound at my local shop if I need any added, It sounds like you need to take a drive to the U.S. if the shops in canada really are not allowed to use it. BTW, it is available over the counter is mexico. It is not legal to bring it across the border from mexico (unless it somehow finds it’s way into your AC system).

I would avoid “converting” to R-134a (especially those DIY kits).


I’ve seen a product on eBay called “Freeze 12”, it sounds like an R12 replacement that is legal in Canada and the US. I’m in the same boat, got an R12 vehicle that needs A/C work and I’m in Canada.
They have a kit which includes a “stop-leak” and all the hookup adapters to do a patch up fix on your A/C system and then fill it with Freeze 12. I’m going to buy and try this kit on my car in the spring, hope it works!


Freeze 12 is just a mixture of R134a and some R142b to carry the mineral oil, allowing it to be (supposedly) used as a replacement for R-12 without any modifications. You may have problems having your system serviced if you decide to use any “alternative” coolant, if you are going to do that you might as well have it professionally “converted” to 134a and live with the performance.


Wow, I posted this days ago, where did it go until now?

Thanks folks. I’m gonna look into this ebay thing. I always expected to spent money on parts, beyond a conversion kit, due to the age of the cars (a LeSabre and a LeBaron, both 1991).


I have used “Freeze 12” in several older vehicles, using it as a “make-up” refrigerant to bring “one can a year” system back into service. It acts like R-12 and I have had no problems with it…


Sometimes an older A/C system won’t take the pressure of a full recharge because of normal deterioration. Things just become weaker with age. When the system is charged, leave the pressures near the minimums. If you rev the engine, you’ll probably see the pressures go higher, anyway. It may not cool quiet as well; but, there is less chance of something “busting”.


We’ve been asking the web-master for a time and date stamp on the original posts. The delay on yours is one reason why we ask. Was it just unanswered, or was it lost in cyberspace? {“We”, of course, is “Me”}.


After I posted it, I couldn’t find it for days. Not in recent discussions, not in the topic indes, and not even in the pile of dust behind my desk.


What is the stop-leak stuff like? It says it only reacts with air, so it won’t clog up any of the working internals of the system. Sounds too good to be true, so I question it.


Thanks ok. I think it was the Buick dealer who was telling me I’d need to change a big part, like the compressor, if I switched.

How far can I expect one can of R-12 to take me?


I have herd refrigerant SP34E can retrofit R12 while keeping the existing oil in the system. Canadian Tire Corp. in Canada is listed as one performing SP34E retrofits. I have no experience with this refrigerant, and therefor not endorsing it. I believe all A/C repairs should be handle by a licensed professional.


The 1976 Montreal Protocol, signed by most countries, incluidng the USA, phased out the PRODUCTION of new R12. However, the R12 being sold today comes from recyled old car A/Cs and household A/Cs, refrigerators and freezers. The governments approve of this, since otherwise this R12 would gradually leak into the atmosphere and deplete the ozone layer. So, various areas of Canada may be short of R12, but there is still quite a bit going around. Switching safely to R134 requires some new parts, and a change of all hoses & fittings. If you have a good, old car, it is well worth the $700 or so for parts & labout to do it. In Vancouver, Canada, the regional environmental board, similar to Los Angeles, requires a leaking A/C system to be completely converted to R134, with all the right parts. Mechancs are not allowed to “fix” an R12 system the old way. Drivers from there find it easier to go to nearby Seattle, Wa for a quick topping up, rather than spend the amount for conversion.

Beware of some service stations in the South, like Texas, pushing propane as a refrigerant. In chemical plants, propane is often used as a refrigerant, under very controlled conditions. However, it’s deadly in a car; the slightest leak can cause to you blow up.