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Discussion Starter #1
My AC went out last month. I took it to the dealer & they recharged it & put dye in the system to look for leaks. The refrigerant leaked out after about a week but they now say they can't find the source of the leak.

They say it's probably in the evaporator but that's hard to get to & the "exploratory surgery" will cost me $600-$800 more. I've taken it to other shops & they quote me $500 with no guarantess or just try to get me to pay for another dye/ leak test.

Here's my questions:

Is getting to the evaportator that hard & if I can get the system recharged, can I repair the leak myself (with moderate mechanical ability, a chiltons manual & a set of sockets)?

If its not something I should undertake myself is there a cheaper way to get the repairs done? $200-$300 is reasonable but not twice that.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance! It gets very hot here in the summer.
 

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Apache, if you can, try searching over your AC system and look for the dye leaking out of any spots, fittings, lines, compressor etc.
That's the purpose its in there, so the leak can easily be found, should one arise. I would check the receiver first. It has the little spy glass on it to see if all is well. Its near the front driver's side in the engine bay.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
dnylrq thanks for your reply...yes, it was checked all over & visible leaks could not be found...thats why they think it must be the evaporator...any suggestions?
 

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Are you positive that the system is empty? And does the AC work at all? I'm looking in my factory manual so anything else could be helpful. If you can have someone turn it on while you are looking at the spyglass in the receiver (part i mentioned before). You should see bubbles and then it should become clear after that if its got refridgerant in it.

Also when it gets turned on, make sure the compressor is kicking in. RPM's should change slightly and the engine will sound different.

Let me know on those things first. A pressure test would be the most helpful but I doubt you have a set of those lying around :lol:
 

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dnylrq thanks again for your reply..

Yes, the AC compressor & system is working & yes, I'm absolutely positive it is out of refrigerant...There is a leak from somewhere by or in the evaporator & I'm stuck.

Shops are quoting me $500-$700 to dig into the dash & troubleshoot it & I'm looking for a cheaper alternative.

Any suggestions would sure be welcomed.
 

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Well, dude, from the sounds of it, if it really is in near the evaporator, then the only alternative to taking it in, is to take it out yourself. It involves loosening the fittings in the engine bay and then 3 bolts on the unit inside the dash to remove it. But there are some o-rings that would need to be replaced on the engine side. Then take the unit into them for it to be tested. But I don't think you'd be able to drive the rav because it would run the compressor when the belts are turning.

Sounds like you may between a rock and a hard spot unless you have something else to drive and can get new o-rings for those fittings. I know its hot where you live, but maybe you can do without the luxury until you can spare the cash.
 

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No way should anyone spend $700 on air conditioning for a 1996 Rav of all things. Imagine the disappointment of spending all that money just for cold air. Time to think 'outside the box' or, should I say, 'about a box'.

I would just buy a cooler box, fill it with ice, chuck it in the trunk, buy one of these (http://www.kooleraire.com/kooleraire25.htm) and plug it into the ciggy lighter (there should be one in the back if you have an 'L'). Job done!
 

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dnylrq, not sure I follow why the RAV can't be driven with the evaporater taken out. :?
The condenser won't run unless the a/c is turned on.......the condenser only turns with the belts when the condenser clutch has engaged and that won't happen unless a/c selected. To be sure, one could pop out the fuse so no one accidently turns it on. And it would be best to keep things clean by covering any open piping with plastic......
 

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Discussion Starter #9
dnylrq, thanks very much for the info...I've located an independent repair shop who said they'll dig into the dash & repair the leak for $250 labor...The O-rings shouldn't be that much & I'm hoping the evap. itself is okay...We will see.

Ian, nifty little gadget there...I'll keep it in mind if the repairs don't work out...I'm hanging on to my 10 yr old RAV as it only just passed the 100,000 mile mark, gets decent gas mileage & still does everything else I ask of it.

Bluenoser, I'll remember to pull the fuse if I have to drive it with the evap. out. thank you.
 

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Blue, I was just thinking that if the unit was out, it would be a shame to see the compressor turn on and go to sh*t. That's all I was thinking. Being as the pipes would be open and no oil in the system.
 

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Just an update...I charged the system up myself & after, I heard a pronounced hissing sound coming from the lower condenser area...I took it back to the Toyota dealer & they confirmed it but had no explanation as to why they hadn't been able to find dye around the leak in the first place.

The dealer quoted a high amount to replace the condenser...I just now finished ordering an OEM condenser & drier online for one third of their quote & I'll be making the repairs myself.

Thanks to all who replied, it's very much appreciated.
 
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Howdy Apache,

Thanks for all the story. Just recently our A/C stopped pumping the 'cold' out and it's time to investigate. When you say "I charged the system up myself", did you purchase a bottle of refrigerant and charge the system yourself?

I am now looking for places in my area that can recharge the system and add some dye so they/I can check for leaks.

I'm not keen on the dealer doing the work as they charge ~$85/hr.
 

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Hi Phrax,

In my case the dealer misdiagnosed the problem even with the system charged with dye...It turned out to be a hole in the condensor.

I ordered a new OEM one with a new OEM dryer & installed them myself...To the dealer's credit, they agreed to evac & recharge the system for free if I paid for the freon...Total cost for the whole repair was about $175..

I'm not a pro mechanic but was told that once there is a leak in the system, moisture can get in & cause problems later...Insurance against this is replacing the dryer/receiver (about $40 US)...99% of AC leaks occur somewhere in the engine bay & the dye should tell you where the leak is.

The refrigerant I used initially was the canned stuff (make sure it's 134a) which is charged into the system via the port in the upper line by the passenger side...Kits are available at most auto supply places for about $25 & the cans cost about $10...Be careful of moisture in the system though...This is why a vacuum to the system once the leak is repaired is necessary.

Good luck!
 
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Thanks for the useful information :) I've talked to a few friends and family who have had the A/C serviced on their vehicles and concluded (with some persuasion from DW) that I should just take the vehicle to a shop that performs A/C work. Phoned around to a few places to see when I could bring the vehicle in. Ended up going with Nor-Est Radiators here in North Vancouver. I believe the fellows name was Rik and he did an awesome job. No BS, answered all the questions I had. T'was a good experience. They, by default, put a dye in the system just incase their pressure test didn't detect a leak. The total came to $226 CAD with taxes.

Now I'll wait a few weeks to see if the system keeps working. :)

Had this been our second vehicle, I'd have pushed more to doing the work myself. But this worked out for both the DW and I since it's done now.
 

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Holy old threads Batman!! I know, I'm digging one up.

Folks on this board have been pretty helpful and we appreciate that.

I have a leak on the condensor of the '98 2WD. You can see fog coming out around what I'm guessing is the connection of the hose to the condensor. It's right in a spot behind the grille and radiator mount. Would there be an o'ring I should check first, or is it more likely the condensor? Is there a history of leaks in this area? If I get a can of dye, is there any special way to use it? Ie: black light, bright light, dark area? Anything to make it stand out better?

If I had could get a good picture I would, but I don't think it would work out.

Thank you in advance for your help,
Jaaydee
 

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Below is some pictures of how the ducting and tubing of the AC is looking like.
Go to
Login | MyDrive - Your free online storage
Use the combination:
Username: [email protected]
Password: RAV4me
And find the file called heater AC.pdf for detailed information from the official repair manual. You might also want to download other repair manuals and wiring diagrams from that spot.
Greetz

Pim

Duct and airflow parts as well as control assembly.


Cooling parts



Vacuum piping


Exploded view of the evaporator of the airconditioning of the RAV4.

 

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I have a 96 Rav and my AC hasn't worked in 2 years!!!! :( So I know the pain! And where I live it has been almost 100 degrees and it isn't even Summer yet!!! :( It would cost too much to get mine fixed..

IAN, the thing you suggested, the portable AC, does that run down your battery fast? My mom used one and she said it killed her battery quick.
I would be willing to invest in something like that if the Pros outweighed the Cons big time.
 

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i put in evaporators on the side in allot of cars and trucks. we charge 150.00 to install them.the rav4 is not a real hard one to do.let me tell you that you should replace the heater core if the box is pulled.reason is if the heater core goes bad the box will have to be pulled again.the ac system will have to be opened up to do that. then pay to have it recharged .leave pulling the ac box to someone that knows what they are doing.
 
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