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Long time owner of a 98 RAV4. The car is automatic. The AC is manual.

Been parking my RAV4 in the same driveway for six years, in the hot sun in Southern California. Never had this problem until a few weeks ago.

The AC works fine if the AC is turned on in 80-90 degree weather, or if the car has been parked in a garage when the weather is hotter.

NOTE: My definition of "AC works fine" means it blows hot for the first few minutes, but eventually gets the car sufficiently cold, provided that the setting is on high, recirculate, coldest possible temp selected, and the AC button has been depressed, with the green light on.

But a few weeks ago, in 90+ degree heat, the AC started to blow hot air with no eventual cool down. I drove for over half an hour at 60 mph on the highway. It blew hot the whole time. Rolled down the window as I neared my destination. The outside air (at 90+ degrees) was cooler than the air coming out of the AC! Since then, this continues to happen on days when the car has been sitting in the hot sun.

A (somewhat cooler) day later, I took it to Jiffy Lube- all my fluids are fine, and they tested the AC temp, said it was cooling at 68 degrees. Suggested I could try a radiator flush.

But given the intermittent nature of the problem, I wondered if perhaps this was an aging part/valve/etc that wasn't functioning well in high temps. I've found a few threads that discuss this problem on the web. But none of those posters ever notify the forums as to what solved the problem.

Has anyone else here had this problem?
 

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Long time owner of a 98 RAV4. The car is automatic. The AC is manual.

A (somewhat cooler) day later, I took it to Jiffy Lube- all my fluids are fine, and they tested the AC temp, said it was cooling at 68 degrees. Suggested I could try a radiator flush.
I would stay away from that Jiffy-Lube, a flush for this would just flush your money.

Tested the temp on mine in 98 degree heat with the windows down, fan medium, air to fresh idling at the curb after an 8 block drive never over 25 and several stop signs. Pulp thermometer in the center vents on the dash read 48 degrees. I know mine is low on Freon.

When idling your rpms should drop when you turn on the AC, if they pick back up after a few seconds that could be a symptom of low Freon level shutting off the compressor.
Best way to check the Freon level is with a set of gauges, the easiest way to get a good guess is to use the sight glass.
 
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AC works intermittently

Hi: I'm having a similar issue: my AC works sometimes. ('97 rav4) Mostly it works, especially in the evening, when it is not needed as much. Sometimes it starts working, then stops working (this has only happened when the weather is hot). Yesterday I used it 3 times, and it worked 2 of the 3 times. The third time, after sitting in the sun for several hours, it did not work.

If it is not working, it does not start to work again unless the car is turned off for a period of time.

I have found some posts with similar issues, but no clear solution.

[3 links removed -- site would not allow links]

I had the AC freon checked and refreshed recently -- the level was down a little, but not much, and the refresh did not solve the problem.

Suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Thanks for your suggestions. Which fan or fans should I check (radiator fan, blower fan, other fan?) Since the AC works sometimes, my guess is that its not a fan issue, but maybe a fan works intermittently? The blower fan works -- when the AC is not working, it blows un-conditioned air.

Also, what should I look for in the way of debris ("upstream of the condenser and air intake for the evaporator")? Do you mean external debris, which would be visible in the engine compartment? If you could let me know where to look and what to look for, I'd appreciate it.

Are there mechanics who specialize in AC systems? If so, is there a list?

One of the websites I found included this info:

One other common component that can fail and cause this type of fault here is the ac low pressure cycling switch.
If this sensor/switch reads incorrect ac pressure intermittently as I have seen some do in the past this will cause this
problem you have described.

Any thoughts on that switch?

Thanks again.
 

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Thanks, appreciate your suggestions.

My guess is that a rebuild of the AC system would "total" the car, so I'm trying to diagnose the issue. When I know what the issue is, then I can decide whether its worth it to fix.

If others have suggestions, I'd like to hear them.

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The links I found with similar sounding issues: (partial links)

forums/85-4-1-faults-fixes/221257-ac-problem

forums/96-4-3-general/196098-ac-working-intermittently-print

toyota/7z1aj-toyota-rav-ac-working-intermittently-frontal
 

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Start by looking at the top of the receiver/drier. It is an aluminum can with two lines going into the top of it. You'll find it behind the driver's side headlight. Between the two lines on the top, there is a round window. Clean that off and watch it while you have the AC on. It should remain clear. If you see a stream of bubbles, that indicates that the system is low on refrigerant. If it's low, you can add refrigerant to it, but if you do, just add enough so that the sightglass goes clear, then stop. DO NOT overfill it.
 

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This is the main issue I am having. The AC works great when I start driving in the morning, or even in the day. As I journey for about 2 hours, I tend to see frost coming out, and then hot air. Someone mentioned that it could be a sensor that has gone bad, but I have no idea yet. If anyone has this issue, and got it fixed, I would appreciate hearing what you did.
 

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This is the main issue I am having. The AC works great when I start driving in the morning, or even in the day. As I journey for about 2 hours, I tend to see frost coming out, and then hot air. Someone mentioned that it could be a sensor that has gone bad, but I have no idea yet. If anyone has this issue, and got it fixed, I would appreciate hearing what you did.
This sounds like a classic symptom of low refrigerant level. It still cools, but not enough so first you get fog coming out of the vents, then the evaporator freezes up with ice. Have some refrigerant added to the proper level and check for a slow leak.
 
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