Originally Posted by TontoKowalski
You guys were right, it was in a vacuum line...
I got home last night and decided to try and fine this line that goes up under my batter, who designed that btw?
I found it, took the battery and tray out inspected the line and the box that it goes into, didn't see any abnormal wear and tear. I did happen to have extra hose laying around so I just replaced that section...what is that box btw?
So then I followed it back to the firewall. Where the hose T's off, there is a thin hose that shoots up into the firewall. Somehow, somewhere that tiny hose snapped.
Now, from the T, the tiny hose fit into a thicker outer hose. So I removed that hose and noticed that the firewall part of the hose broke off inside of the larger housing hose. I tweezed that piece out...struggled to get my fat hands back there against the burning engine block, etc...and inserted the tiny tube into the larger tube.
I was 100% skeptical that it would work. I put the key in, turned it on and in about 5 or 10 seconds the thing started pumping out of the dash vents.
Eureka! Now...anybody got any tips on re-juicing my AC system so it's like a meat locker when I drive?
Thanks for the advice fellas, worked out fine...
Glad you got it fixed! The bottom of the battery tray is the vacuum reservoir and the tube/fitting you attached the rubber hose to is a one-way check valve. The reservoir stores vacuum until it's needed like when climbing a hill or under hard acceleration. The main purpose of the reservoir is too supply vacuum to the speed control servo (cruise control) so it continues to function properly. But if there's a leak in the hose, or the reservoir is cracked, their isn't enough vacuum to work the HVAC control switch.
The little black vacuum line which goes through the firewall is notorious for breaking after becoming brittle. You're lucky it broke at the T and were able to fix it. Mine broke once at the hole next to the evaporator tube and I was darn lucky to be able to fish the tube back up through the foam insulation in the hole w/a small pair of needle-nose to repair it. Not much slack at all in this tube either.
The correct method for recharging your AC system is to go get a set of loaner manifold gauges from Autozone and/or Advance. You have to pay full price ($100-$150), can keep for 90 days, and return for a full refund. The ones I borrowed from Autozone didn't have instructions so I just looked up the brand/model and downloaded them. Then you just connect the two outside gauge lines to the low pressure port usually in the liquid/orifice tube and high side at the compressor discharge fitting. You can't reverse them since they're different size fittings. You'll also need to buy a valve (about $12) for attaching a can of 134a to the yellow middle suction hose of the manifold gauges. Then you open only the low side of the gauge set for recharging. Plenty of good video on the internet on how to do this.
Some will just but a can of 134a with a gauge/hose on it but these gauges can be highly inaccurate and you don't want to overcharge the system. Since the AC system is a closed system if you're low on 134a you have a leak somewhere. So best to buy a can or 2 of 134a with UV dye in it for checking for leaks. I also bought a pair of yellow glasses and UV pen light from Autozone for $12 so I could see the dye easily.
Unfortunately on the 96, and other models/years, one of the AC system parts which is known to leak/fail is the evaporator in the HVAC box in the dash. Hopefully this isn't your problem because not a fun job at all to remove the whole dash/HVAC box but a shop may charge you close to a grand if the evaporator needs replaced. Believe mine failed because the drain tube on the HVAC box was clogged causing the bottom of the evaporator to rot. Good thread around here on cleaning this drain line out. Good luck.