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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 04-15-2007, 12:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Air Conditioning Fix

Hello, I'm new to the forum, just found you guys about two days ago. I must say the site looks pretty good and appears to have a lot of helpful information all over. I like it. Ok so my question, I bought a '94 BMW 325IS Manual, Midnight Blue (I like it alot) a couple months ago for a good deal now I just have to fix a couple things, one being the A/C. Ok when I turn on the A/C it blows cold for a couple seconds and then goes warm. Most of the time anyways, and it's not that cold to begin with. I hear I may have a leak in the system or the system could just need to be recharged. As far as I know its still has R12 (?) in the system and will need to be converted to R134a. So I went to some shops to see if they could just remove the R12 so i could convert the system myself, but they say that they have to do the whole conversion or nothing at all. Also, that I cannot remove the R12 myself, which I expected, but ya know I can dream. Plus, after the whole thing is completed and I pay for the whole deal, if I have a leak in the system, they won't know where until they do all the work and at that point if I need a new compressor then I'm going to be paying for that as well. What should I do? Sorry for the lengthiness. Any help is appreciated! Thank you
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Old 04-15-2007, 08:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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have them remove the r12, then have them convert it, but also tell them you think you have a leak, they can put some dye in it and then you'll be able to see where the leak is coming from, then go from there
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Old 04-15-2007, 02:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well I know that I can do that, I was just hoping for a more economic fix, or more that I could do on my own. Do all shops require doing the whole operation? If I could find a shop to just remove the R12 and I could do the rest I think I'd be saving a lot of money. Is there any way that I can check for, find, and isolate the leak myself? If I spend $200 getting it converted and then it's the compressor then I'm going to have to spend another $250 on a compressor in which I'm spending $450, I'll just sell the car and find another good deal WITH A/C.
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Old 04-15-2007, 04:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Does anyone know how these processes are performed at the dealer? Can I rent the tool to check the amount of refrigerant in the system? The sniffer for the R12? What can I do myself? I know some of you out want to spend as little as possible just as I do. There has to be a less expensive way to do this.
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Old 04-15-2007, 09:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Are you sure you've got R12??

My '94 was and still is R134a from the factory....the corner parts stores have R134 recharge kits that include a guage to check your freon level, all do it yourself...
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Old 04-16-2007, 06:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Ok, I'm sure this is a dumb question, but how do I check? I asked around to see what I had, and everyone said R12. I don't know what I have but that's what the mechanics told me and they could easily be wrong, they didn't look at the car they just told me that. By the way, if it is R12 I found a less expensive solution, EZ12a. Don't need to change any fittings or anything really, just two adapters and I'm good to go. Found it on autorefrigerants.com. Gonna wait awhile to do it but we'll see. It would be nice to find that I have R134a though... would make things much simpler and less expensive...
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Old 04-16-2007, 10:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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From Pelican Parts:

The original Freon used in the older-style R12 air-conditioned cars. In the early 1990s, auto manufacturers started phasing out Freon-based A/C systems and started implementing the newer R134a systems (BMW appears to have started installing R134a systems with the 1993 models). The cost of the replacement R12 Freon is skyrocketing as the current supplies disappear. This Freon, which was once sold to the public in do-it-yourself kits, can only be legally purchased by dealers now, who are trained in recharging these systems.

If your A/C system needs a major overhaul, it’s wise to upgrade your system to R134a, although the R134a refrigerant is not as efficient, is slightly more prone to leaks, and cools slightly less than the original R12. You can purchase R134a inexpensively at your local auto parts stores, and retrofit kits are easy to install (as I will explain a little later). You can determine which type of refrigerant you have in your car from the shape of the connectors and/or the sticker on the front right side of the engine compartment.
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Old 04-19-2007, 12:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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So I found that article you quoted. Great article. Answered pretty much all of my questions. I work all day most everyday but I'm going to try to get this taken care of tomorrow morning. Thank you for the help, I'll post an update with how it goes. Thank God it was an R134a system! Much less expensive and much easier task.
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Old 04-20-2007, 12:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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So the hose I had was bad, bought a new one, recharge went fine. Thanks for the help. Used red dye, going to look for a leak but it looks good so far. Awesome.
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Old 04-24-2007, 09:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Did you replace a refrigerant hose? If so, the only way to get the system to perform properly is to pull a deep vacuum (vacuum pump) and charge the system by weight. If you merely pulled refrigerant in through the low side, you will never reach full cooling.

Air is not a refrigerant, any air left in the system will greatly reduce the cooling capacity. Mositure in htesystem is also a problem, it will freeze in hte expansion valve & evaporator further lowering cooling.
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Old 04-24-2007, 11:21 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I haven't had to replace a refrigerant hose so far but in the possible case that I might have to, how do I pull a vacuum on the system? I've been researching this for a couple weeks now and people just DO NOT want to give out information on how to do this. Go to a shop, have the shop do it. I go to forums and research these things so I DON'T HAVE TO. I'm 21, and don't have the money. Period. That said, any ideas on how to pull a vacuum on the system and replace a hose, the equipment needed and such, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Mookie. FYI I have the system working properly now, but I like to research things in and out so that in the future I will be able to fix anything, friends call on me for help as I call on them. On my buddies car I may have to replace a hose. Thanks again.
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:40 AM   #12 (permalink)
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My pleasure to help.
To identify a R134a system, the service ports are different than R12. R12 uses a schrader valve (like a tire air stem), the hoses thread on same as a tire would. R134a fittings are a quick connect, larger than R12 & different high side vs low side (so as not to connect incorrectly). The vehicle should have a decal stating the refrigerant used & the charge quantity.

If the system is opened, or leaked empty. You must find & repair leaks, then pull a vacuum to remove air (non-condensible gas) and water vapor. A vacuum pump connected through a manifold gauge set is required. Gauge sets have multiple connections on the manifold to allow vacuum pump hook up while connected to the car's system.

Finding leaks can be difficult. Ideally you pressurize with nitrogen and a trace of refrigerant, use electronic leak detector ($$$) to find leaks. Soapy water sprayed on connections works well, as does the fluorescent dye. You can also charge with refrigerant enough to allow compressor to cycle & pressurize high side, look for leaks. Low side leaks are easier to find with compressor off & pressure equalized.

If the system has been opened for any length of time (several days) or depressurized due to a large leak, you should replace the reciever-dryer which is filled with dessicant. Relatively inexpensive.

Evacuate system to a deep vacuum with pump (no other way) vacuum gauge on set will be pinned at full vacuum & block valves in to hold vacuum in car's system. This can take some time depending on the pump's capacity. Watch gauge for leakage (30 minutes). Any movement of the gauge means a leak, find it & repair. Charge system by connecting refrigerant to low side of gauge set & allowing the vacuum to pull refrigerant in. High & low side pressures can be used to determine the correct charge, R134a is typically 30-35 psi on the low side with compressor running. This translates to 45 - 50 degF coming off the evaporator (inside car).

Starter set for AC repair:
Arizona Mobile Air Inc. (ACKits.com): Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Starter and Advance Kits

Gives an idea of the cost of the equipment. You might be able to rent vacuum pump & gauge set, check local tool rental places or refrigeration supply houses (United refrigeration is a nation wide distributor):

United Refrigeration Inc. -- Branch Locator


Best thing to do is get a book on refrigeration (library or book store) & study up. Be very careful working with refrigerants, low temps & high pressures can cause severe thermal burns, very nasty.
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:16 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Wow, that was an excellent help. I have a much clearer understanding of how to go about checking and properly fixing the system now. Looks like I may have some more work to do, particularly that receiver/dryer. Thank you very much.
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekid
From Pelican Parts:

The original Freon used in the older-style R12 air-conditioned cars. In the early 1990s, auto manufacturers started phasing out Freon-based A/C systems and started implementing the newer R134a systems (BMW appears to have started installing R134a systems with the 1993 models). The cost of the replacement R12 Freon is skyrocketing as the current supplies disappear. This Freon, which was once sold to the public in do-it-yourself kits, can only be legally purchased by dealers now, who are trained in recharging these systems.

If your A/C system needs a major overhaul, it’s wise to upgrade your system to R134a, although the R134a refrigerant is not as efficient, is slightly more prone to leaks, and cools slightly less than the original R12. You can purchase R134a inexpensively at your local auto parts stores, and retrofit kits are easy to install (as I will explain a little later). You can determine which type of refrigerant you have in your car from the shape of the connectors and/or the sticker on the front right side of the engine compartment.
I have pretty much the same problem, need to add 134A. I bought the kit with the gage and two cans of 134A, but quick connect is too small to fit to the low side and too big for the high side.
Fits well on Toyota to the low side.
What I am missing here?
Please help, reply to emb257toy@yahoo.com as well.

Thanks.
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Old 05-05-2007, 12:28 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Are you sure the adapter piece is too small to connect to the low side? It hooked up to mine just fine. What is the brand of the kit you bought, what year is the vehicle? Originally the hose that I bought sucked, I'm sure because it's just low quality crap, I'm actually on my third hose cuz my buddy wants me to do his car and the new hose that I bought broke already. The first time I tried to use it I was having trouble hooking it up, or at least I thought because the gauge wasn't working, but it wasn't the adapter piece, the hose was clogged or something and just didn't work at all so i had to buy a new one. Then it worked fine, well the first three times I used it, now the new one is clogged too... don't buy the hose with the trigger. I ran into many problems before I got it to work, don't feel bad.
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