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3-Series (E21, E30) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.

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Old 04-28-2006, 12:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Air Conditioning fix?!

Ok so as im guessing 99% of you dont have AC just like me. Cause its old and doesnt work. what can i do? Costs?

can i use that stuff in teh can they sell at auto parts store...will that actually work?


I want cold air godamit...i got the compressor, not wanting to take it off...and frankly im willing to pay upwards of 500$ to get this fixed.


any input?
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Old 04-28-2006, 09:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I am sure you can do a search on the forum for "Wal-Mart Death Kit" which basically is some sort of cheap ass conversion to make Freon based systems work with R-134a. There are those that LOVE the kit, and those that HATE the kit, but I know it's cheap, and I think after I do a leakdown test of my system, I will try that kit myself.

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Old 04-28-2006, 09:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Well I drive a 1990 325ic with a drop in conversion kit from WalMart ($34.00) and it works fine. If you have leaks or a bad compressor or reciever/dryer, etc then you will have problems. I would get some UV goggles, a black light and put in some flourescent dye and with system topped off run it a few minutes and look for leaks. FREON (R-12) is not available except with a license and it is very expensive so maybe spend a few bucks at a AC shop to get her evaluated and go from there.
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Old 04-28-2006, 10:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There are complete leak kits available, including glasses, neutral gas to charge the system, dye, blacklight, etc... I saw one at Oreilly's the other day for around $50 if I remember. Uh oh... it's payday! I wonder what I will be doing this weekend!?

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Old 04-28-2006, 12:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If the compresssor is good, the reciever/dryer is about $50.00 and the green gaskets/"O" rings for 134a a cheap. So, check her out and if it does not require a compressor the other items I mentioned are easy to remove and replace (including expanison valve). You should have her pumped down, replace any needed items and then add the 134a kit. Realistically even removing copressor is not a big deal after splash shield is removed.

Here is my example of a conversion done by an indy tech (a friend). My 1988 750il and he replaced receiver/dryer.expansion valve, evaporator, and all gaskets (compressor was still originnal and good). refilled and added conversion fittings to 134a. My cost was $750 and the machine would freeze your knuckles.
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Old 04-28-2006, 02:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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thnx for the responses. I have called a couple of places. all about 500 for the fix. But thats without fixing the leaks. sooo...idk yet.
more research is to be had i guess
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Old 04-29-2006, 10:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey man,
I'm pretty knowledgeable in this subject. Not to ring my own bell but to give credibility(ASE Cert. Air conditioning tech.). First you need to check the air compressor to see if it still turns freely. You'll have to grab the clutch and tun it clockwise. It should have a little resistance that varies with the compression stroke. Not notchy though. Also take a cap off of the filler valve on the nearest line. Use a pen or screwdriver or something and push in the pin in the valve. See if it has any pressure at all. If not you probably have a sizable leak and depending on how long it;s been down you may have some serious corrosion in the system from intruding moisture! If it does have pressure, you probably just have a small leak that has let enough refridgerant out over time to set the low pressure switch to protect the compressor. If the former is the case you'll need to take the system down completely and replace all major components and flush the cores and replace the o-rings! If the latter is the case you just need to go down to your local parts store and get some refridgerant with U/V dye. Start the car, turn on a/c and charge with it running. Can upside down. Only charge utill the compressor cycles once every 20 or 30 seconds and then stop. This will be good for a week or so, enough time to get the dye circulated really well. Then get a u/v detection kit and check it over really well in the dark garage. If you don't see anything obvious, run the A/C for a while with it parked and let it drip in a cup. Check the water with the kit and if the evap core is leaking, the dye will be in the water. As far as the conversion issue, it needs to be FLUSHED to work properly for any amount of time! You can use 134 with an R12 system very efficiently if done properly. Don't use the Wal-Mart kit unless you want a bad compressor within a short amount of time or you just like playing roulette! Flush, Evacuate, Vaccume leakdown test, Add proper amount of PAG oil (1 oz per major component and 1 for all the lines) , then charge to 80% of R12 spec capacity. No more! R134 runs higher pressure. Assuming all other switches and sensors are working properly this should work great. If you're in the Louisville area let me know, I'd be happy to look at it for ya!
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Old 04-30-2006, 12:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm going to update my A/C system (soon I hope), even with a R134a conversion it still doesn't get nearly as cold as I would like. So, I'm going to upgrade my system similar to a custom A/C job I did in a 68 studebaker avanti II.

What I did was I bought a R134a compressor and receiver/drier from a 95/96 chrysler (they have V-belts) built a bracket for it, then matched the dimensions of the condenser and built a mounting bracket for it then cut and spliced the A/C lines to fit. After all was said and done with the combination of the R134a compressor, receiver/drier, and condenser coupled with the R12 expansion valve and evaporator, the A/C blew 18 deg at the vents (fog poured out when it was off). The main draw back was if left on in max cold and with recirculation on, it would freeze up the evaporator and water would condensate on the windows. But if you left the main vent open it would freeze you out of the car on a 90deg day in the direct sun light. Not too sure if I'll get the same result with a mid 80s BMW evaporator, but I am sure it'll be far colder than it would ever be with the basic R12 or R134a with stock parts.
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Old 05-10-2006, 01:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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wow thnx guys. I looked into it. Either ways its gonna run me a minimum of 400 to get it refilled. Then i gotta pay for the leak to be fixed. Meaning im looking at arounf 1k for AC. And from what i just read it might not be that cold...so I decided ill live with the ridiculous heat and just drive another car for long trips in the heat.

Maybe someday ill buy a car with great AC


thnx alot for the response.
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Old 05-10-2006, 07:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Old 05-24-2006, 12:48 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Question expansion valve replacement

Hi gang,
my expansion valve has been diagnosed as bad. This was a couple of years ago and I've been procrastinating fixing it as the shop said that the dash has to be removed to get at it ($300+). I've since learned (from this forum and elsewhere) that you can get at it by removing the glove box and it's "right there". One mechanic told me however that you need to cut a hole in a plastic box to get access to it then patch the hole when you're done. I'd love a little more info if anyone here has done this repair. My Bentley manual is useless for this as it doesn't even mention that an expansion valve exists in the system, nevermind say how to replace it.

Also, are any special tools needed to replace it? Any torque specs, etc.?

Thanks!
-Bill
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:34 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Anyone? I'm tearing into it this weekend...
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Nope, all you need to do is remove your glove box, pull your evap cover off, drain your system (should be evacuated) I belive you'll need a 23mm a 19mm and a 17mm, (I could be wrong) (do be carefull with the anti-icing probe) once in vacume down the system for at least 1 hr lastly recharge.

P.S. If it's full of rust you should replace your reciver drier and flush your evap, lines and the rest of the system. Brake parts cleaner and compressed air works great, just don't try to flush the compressor, that don't work.
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply. I was in there this weekend, and I'm not sure where the evap cover is... Can you please describe it?
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:51 PM   #15 (permalink)
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My e30 AC works!!! ha ha, but really the only thing mine needed was a new compressor ( bav auto) with all new gaskets and seals everywhere, and a recharge.

figured this out because when i got a recharge, freon got everywhere, so we i tracked it to the compressor, and got a new one along with the rubbers, got a recharge, and it blows pretty cold, although it takes ALOT of power away from the engine, so i just ride with my windows down
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