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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 08-15-2008, 10:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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AC troubleshooting

I have a 318ti second car going strong w/ 170k miles, here the problem:

I charged it up this summer and must have had too much freon becuase it is in the red zone on the cheapo meter you get with the car. I did not use a meter earlier this year.

I broke open my entire heater box looking for the resistor pack thinking it was that (behind micro on 318ti, 1995 by the way) or the blower and the blower seems fine so I checked the pressure and it is way high on the AC.

Instead of spending over $100 to have the AC drained and recharged is there some way I can see if I need an expensive repair first so I dont waste the money on the evac-refill when it may require more than I want to invest in a second car worth about $3,000 on the used market now.
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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By in the red zone, do you mean pressure too high or pressure too low?

If too high, you probably overfilled it.

If too low, you probably have a leak somewhere and need to put in the ultraviolet dye to discover where it is.
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Old 08-16-2008, 12:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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On the R-134a refrigerant by Quest Auto Air Conditioner bought at discount for $13.50 from Checker (Net Wt. 190z, tall can)

I thought that might cause damage. Maybe the question is too abstract and I might just need to evac and refill the system but the car is getting a little old and I do not want to throw alot of money at it right now.

I wonder if a system could have no serious problems but just require an evac and refilling as opposed to just a refilling. The guy at the local lube shop says the evac is important and I have not done it since I bought it 10 years ago.
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Old 08-16-2008, 12:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I probably should research these things first before shooting out questions.

It looks like the systems can built up alot of junk over the years so an evac and refill just might be the ticket. I may not even have a leak and it could just be the garbage has built up in my AC system, I am hoping.

Have fun at the auto show professor, be careful you dont look like a protester.

They are getting geared up for mass democratic convention protest arrests.
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by kevinheap View Post
I probably should research these things first before shooting out questions.

It looks like the systems can built up alot of junk over the years so an evac and refill just might be the ticket. I may not even have a leak and it could just be the garbage has built up in my AC system, I am hoping.

Have fun at the auto show professor, be careful you dont look like a protester.

They are getting geared up for mass democratic convention protest arrests.
the only way to diagnose A/C systems is to use a manifold guage; and the readings shown be measured against what it is you are experiencing.

Unfortunately the guages you obtain at Checker, etc... measure only the pressure on the LOW side port, and does not give u any insight to the integrity of the compressor(the HIGH side of the A/C system).

But yes, initially... if the LOW side meter is showing in the red zone; you either have to much refrigerant in the system, too much refrigerant oil... or both. In this case, when there is too much of either or both, the refrigerant has no chance(no space) to convert from liquid to gas as it passes through ur expansion valve-therefore, the absence of cooling.

Gunk isn't likely on 134 systems as it has been an original 134a. the junk you are alluding to usually refers to the residuals that arise from conversion fr R12-to-R134a. But then again, thts a 13 yr old system you have there; it's not a bad idea to check the components(escpecially filter drier and expansion valve) then evacuate and recharge.
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Old 08-16-2008, 02:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks DH; for the expansion valve I have heard you listen for noise and I dont think there is much but I will check. I have heard one guy say on the net that everytime you crack the system open a new drier is a good idea. At $32 from Autohaus Arizona that might be a good idea since the car has 170,000 miles on it.

How would you check the drier and for the valve do you just listen for noise?

I may just go ahead and have them evacuate it now rather than wait til spring. No use having extra water in my system all winter long and there will be days I want to use it when it gets to 80 in fall or spring.

I appreciate your time and knowledge.
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Old 08-16-2008, 05:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks DH; for the expansion valve I have heard you listen for noise and I dont think there is much but I will check. I have heard one guy say on the net that everytime you crack the system open a new drier is a good idea. At $32 from Autohaus Arizona that might be a good idea since the car has 170,000 miles on it.

How would you check the drier and for the valve do you just listen for noise?

I may just go ahead and have them evacuate it now rather than wait til spring. No use having extra water in my system all winter long and there will be days I want to use it when it gets to 80 in fall or spring.

I appreciate your time and knowledge.
a new drier is the rule of thumb, or you can try a 1960's trick where u heat the bottom of the receiver/drier with a blow torch and let all the moisture evaporate. (That practice is pretty much by the wayside now as driers are cheap these days).

the change of expansion valve is also recommended(just in case it has clogged over the years). A/C is a closed system with the internal workings not seen... only felt. - that is to say, rather than try and cut corners only to open the system a 2nd time over(expensive and labor intensive, not to mention evacuate, recharge, plus cost of freon 2-3times over); jst open the system once and replace them parts that are known to deteriorate

try online sources. average price of a drier is $20.- and an expansion valve about the same.
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Old 08-16-2008, 08:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks again, you advice is much appreciated.
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