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New compressor is not sucking in refrigerant.

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  • New compressor is not sucking in refrigerant.

    2007 Pontiac G5 Sedan, 2.2L, 4 speed auto transmission, 145188 miles, manual A/C. The brand new compressor is not sucking in the can of HC-12a I have attached to the service hose and evacuated, low side. Does this mean I have a restriction in the system, my compressor is dead-on-arrival / inop, or something else?


    - Engine running

    - System evacuated for 2 hours with my vacuum pump

    - A/C clutch engaged

    - hi and low side gauge set connected and opened at the fittings

    - also has new condenser (with integrated dryer) installed

    - hoses flushed with flush gun solvent

    - evaporator and expansion valve flushed from the port on the firewall

    - new serpentine belt installed

  • #2
    1st question: Why are you not going back with R134a, like it should have? 2nd question: are you sure your manifold (gauges) are making connection into the system I.E. is it depressing the valve in the service port and able to pass gas through to the system.


    • fountainpen
      fountainpen commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for the reply.
      1) R134a is not sold in any of the auto parts stores in Ontario, Canada anymore. All of them have HC-12a in stock.
      2) I am getting hi and low side readings on the gauges. The knobs on the gauge turn to allow access to the service hose. Service port valves are aluminum and seem to be reasonable quality and I believe they are depressing the service port Schrader valves properly. This is the US General set sold at Harbor Freight, but it does seem to work and I have used it on other vehicles. I get read 60 psi of pressure on the lo side and 50 psi on the high side. (I had to put some refrigerant into the hi side to get the A/C clutch to engage.) All I am doing it seems to me is putting can pressure into the lines with nothing being sucked in by the compressor.

  • #3
    That "refrigerant" is a mix of propane and butane, both highly flammable and operate at different pressures than the system is built for. Just a quick quote from Wiki "Because of its high flammability, it is unacceptable to replace R-12 with HC-12a in the United States.[2][3] Thus its use in public transport vehicles is illegal in the United States since 1990.[4][5]" Not only is it a fire hazard, but the CCOT cycle switch will be the wrong pressure for the refrigerant. SO, may be it is a good thing you can't get it in!


    • fountainpen
      fountainpen commented
      Editing a comment
      Unfortunately, I live in a country that is run by "woke" fools. I have read what you are showing and I agree there are risks. I have thought about the risks and I feel they are similar to gasoline at the fuel rail. I guess I am hoping this 12a never catches fire, but if it does, with this car, I will park it on the side of the road and walk away.
      The 12a that I bought is from Ultracool:

      I bought it from Carquest.
      CARQUEST works in close partnership with many major automotive suppliers and manufacturers and provides products that meet or exceed original-equipment (OE) specifications and performance.

      Canadian Tire carries only RedTek 12a and has for 10 years I guess now.

      I am going off of what RedTek claims here:
      “No retrofitting needed. RED TEK 12a is designed as a direct drop-in replacement for R-134a and R-12 substitutes. RED TEK 12a requires no significant redesigning of the refrigeration system because it is compatible with R134a, R12, metal components, compressor motor materials, mineral, and synthetic (Ester and PAG) lubricants, seals, gaskets, hoses, compressors, and O-rings.”
      “The charge for RED TEK 12a is 40% of that needed for R134a by weight.”

      I only have a partial can of R134a left from topping up my Mini-van 8 years ago or so. I don’t want to use it in case I need it again. I can’t buy it in Canada.
      My experience with the 12a is it seems like it is similar to R134a in that I can open the hose just a tad and let some squirt out to get the air out of the service hose and what sprays out is similar and cold like R134a. Obviously I am not sparking anything while doing this. It sounds like I may have to sacrifice my PRECIOUS remaining can of R134a and see if it works. Perhaps I need to take a trip to the States and get some R134a, but Canada Customs will not allow me to bring it into the country I can almost bet on that, so I would have to do this in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

  • #4
    There is a big difference between gasoline (which is mostly liquid at ambient temps/pressure and propane and butane which are vapor. Gasoline has to form vapor before it will burn or make an explosive "cloud", Propane and Butane are already vapor when they escape, so easily mix and one spark, there is a fire, or worse.
    I don't know the laws and what is going on in Canada. I assume, and this may be wrong, that professional shops still have access to R134a? I know down here in the US anyone can buy small cans, but you must be licensed to buy larger quantities
    The HC12a and the like are acceptable for replacement in refrigerators and freezers that used R12 or R134a (stationary hermetically sealed systems with no hoses) but not approved for vehicles here. Refrigerators don't generally crash at high speeds, and the amount they can leak if broke open is far less than a vehicle uses.
    I know these replacements have been sold north of the boarder for some time, and even down here for stationary use. I don't know if the auto parts stores are just selling as a "work around" for the non licensed people/shops to be able to charge an a/c system.
    From what I read, that is something like 60% Propane and the other 40% is a mix of Iso Butane and butane. Butane has a vapor pressure near that of 134a at freezing but propane is much higher pressure at freezing. Also the pressure/temp charts for Butane stop at 130 deg F something that could easily be seen under the hood on a hot day. Again, stationary systems are unlikely to ever see those temps either.
    I am not the police or customs and am not here to say what you do, however if R134a is available to licensed shops, that is the way I'd go. yeah it is not DIY and cost a bit but besides the safety aspect, the system will be contaminated if these replacements are used, and "cleaning them up" to used R134a again at a future point will be expensive.
    One last thing : Please type your reply in the box below this thread and don't use the "comment" button. When you type a reply in the box it highlights that new info has been added to the thread, when you type a comment, I don't see that the thread has been added to. I just happened to look in by chance.


    • #5
      Spent a little time searching Canadian standpoint on R134a. If what I read is correct, they still allow lic shops to repair and recharge R134a systems with that refrigerant. Sale to the public is not allowed.
      The US took a different stance. Here small container are allowed to sold to the public, but larger kegs require a lic.
      The truth of the matter is regardless of the approach, almost all refrigerant will eventually end up in the atmosphere A very small percent will be captured and re used. People don't generally throw out working appliances and all motor vehicles have non hermetically sealed A/C systems, those all will leak, how much and how fast is the only issue.
      The US has decided that the "small can" use is better than the flammable alternative for the DIY'er and Canada has gone the other way, allowing the person to choose between paying a shop for R134a or substituting a flammable gas in its place. It is lessons learned from the R12 phase out.
      Neither are as good as having every leak fixed right and re-filled properly. Both countries have experience (from differing sides) of what happens when something is prohibited. People will find a way, the best you can do is point them in a way that is most acceptable.
      From a cost standpoint, it is cheaper to add year over year than make a system tight enough to hold over 10 years. Cost is generally all the adv person considers, but that has got us to where we are today, with the ever tightening laws. If we had today's mentality about leaks back in the 50's and 60's we might still be using R12.
      Here and Canada HCFC's are banned (R22 R404 and the like), and those were almost never sold to the general public, not because of laws, but because of where they were used.
      Another factor is in the days of R12 cars didn't last as long, and since that time how long cars stay on the road has gone steadily longer. It has less impact to repair an older car than replace with a new one because you can't get what is needed to repair. Even with the R134a phase out, R134a systems will be in use for decades to come.


      • #6
        Just watching. Site is really US so I' lost with those rules OP can have.
        TMK you can or could use 134a with a license to and refuse to acquire it.

        I can't fix stupid!
        MetroWest, Boston