Refrigerant Type?

The air conditioner in a 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera I am thinking of buying still works. However, I am wondering whether it is the old R12 refrigerant or the newer R134a type? I read last night that cars have had the newer R134a type since 1993, but I’m not sure all cars of 1993 would have had the R134a in them. Maybe some of them were made before the switchover? Does anyone know whether this car has the newer type or how I would find out? I hear the R12 type is hard and expensive to switch over, once it gives out. I tried switching my 1987 Dodge over with a kit, and it did not work.

1993 was a transition year for GM. The Owner’s Manual for my 1993 Caprice states either R12 or R134a. The Caprice has R12, there is a sticker under the hood that should state which refrigerate the car has.

Ed B.

Oh, dear. Thank you, edb1961. I called my inspection station back, and they said they can check out even an older car like 1993, so I can ask him where that sticker is, when we take it in. The seller said it would cost only about $15-$30 for new Freon, but I’m not sure he knows… Now I’m afraid it’s probably the old R12, but we’ll find out this afternoon. I think it would cost at least $450.00 to switch it over, if so, if the air conditioner gives out?

I’d just try and find a '96 or newer car. In addition to R134 it’ll have OBD-II, the standard engine diagnosis system. Much easier to get OBD-II cars inspected here (Texas), don’t know about where you are.

The 1993 model year was compatible with R134 so the switch over should only involve the valve adapters and the new freon. But it could have either freon in there right now.

If the AC still works, why are you adding freon?

I believe my 1993 Oldsmobile 88 used the R-12 refrigerant. I did have it recharged at one time, but that was more than 10 years ago. I sold the car in 2003. My brother has had Chevrolet vans that he used in his business that used the R12 refrigerant. He had no trouble converting them to the R 134A refrigerant and the air conditioning works well.

The air conditioning would not be high on my list of concerns for a 10 year old car. If it works, that’s great. Other factors are much more important–engine, transmission, suspension, etc. The air conditioning either works or it doesn’t. In your case, it works. Move on to the important issues.

Make that 20 year old car…

@texases–I am always at least 10 years behind the times. My statement is even more valid for a 20 year old vehicle.

Still we wonder .
WHY is the OP adding freon ? or are they just preparing for a future repair bill…big or small.

The A/C is a completely sealed system and you don’t add freon …too much and it won’t work right.
If some is gone…there’s a problem that need fixed…perhaps just a dollar o-ring

My old 92 R-12 Explorer has not needed any freon since its first two years of life when it was in fact just a dollar o-ring or two that allowed the freon to leak out durring the cold winters. Once fixed it has never neede more.
My 79 does not need R-12 freon either. works just fine

@Triedaq - same here, I took out the calculator to answer a question on an '86 T-Bird, just to make sure I got the age right!

I was asking the OP yesterday as to what type of AC system the Oldsmobile has. I asked if he had the older R12 system or the newer one ('93 models on), and he didn’t seem to know but just said his ac works great at the present time and he’s had no problems with it, as I understood him. I mentioned that the conversion from old to new ac can be quite pricey, but he said he thought I’d just have to spend $15 - $35 to replace the Freon in it, whenever it gave out.

It turns out it is R12. The mechanic checked for me this afternoon. He charges $66 an hour for labor. Is that a pretty good price?

No way to tell, it depends on the hours. You’re better off finding out the cost to do a particular job.

Okay, good to know. For instance, 2.4 hours to remove and replace the intake manifold gasket = $158.40. 1.9 hours to remove and replace valve cover gasket = $125.40. New brake shoes/pads at 1 hour for $66. Removal and installation of steering gear (manual and power rack & pinion worm & ball nut and rack & pinion assemblies-- does not include transfer parts nor alignment at 3.50 hours = $231.00. Parts are extra. For example, intake manifold gasket costs $30. Valve cover gasket costs $18. Front pads are $23. The trans servo oring is $33. And the part servo gasket is $4.50. Steering gear costs $83.20.

I believe this is the approach that manufacturers took for 1993 model year

If it was the last production year for that platform, it stayed with R-12

If the platform would be produced a few years more, it got R-134a for 1993 model year

Another thing to consider when converting:

Charge only 80-85%, because of slightly higher R-134a pressures
A larger/more efficient condenser may be needed
An additional condenser electric fan may be needed
Some pressure switches may need to be replaced with updated R-134a compatible parts
Some compressors don’t tolerate the switch to R-134a
Any marginal components will leak faster with R-134a than they would with R-12
The air coming out of the panel registers may not be quite as cold