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Unread 10-16-2013, 01:58 PM   #1
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2000 WJ 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oshawa, ON
Posts: 123
Wj Collecting A/C Information

So... here's what I gather so far: Older WJ's (before 2002?) without the climate control have an A/C system that is rather prone to freeze up if it's outside of spec. Most modern systems sample the temperature of the evaporator core to turn off the compressor to prevent it from turning into a useless block of ice, but the older WJ simply has a pressure sensor on the low side of the system. It has one on the high side, too, but (correct me if I'm wrong) this isn't involved in the freeze up.

My 2000 WJ is freezing up. It has the manual HVAC controls and I have already replaced the low side pressure sensor with a new one. Before someone offers, my A/C clutch does cycle --- and not particularly short, either. It's just that with this cycling, the evaporator is also freezing up.

The "kit" I have for fixing this only has one guage. I gather that this low side reading isn't the preferred among professionals, but I'm looking to get this fixed s.t. my evaporator isn't freezing up when I need defrost.

Now... under the condition that I'm running on a day with temperatures in the high 60's to low 70's (pre-translated for my American friends) and I have the A/C on full non-reserc and the engine idling, what pressure should I be shooting for on the low line (I gather that the low-line pressure is thus related to the temperature of the evaporator).

Generally, since there are now a number of self-service kits for A/C that involve non-ozone depleting chemicals, it would be cool if we could collect some service wisdom here.

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Unread 10-16-2013, 10:44 PM   #2
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2000 WJ 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oshawa, ON
Posts: 123
geez... I get relegated to the dustbin of the 2nd page with only one person reading ... nobody cares about a/c?
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Unread 10-17-2013, 12:43 AM   #3
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2000 WJ 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 476
If your evaporator is freezing up your low side pressure is low. Doesn't matter what the outside temperature is (to a degree) the low side pressure regulates the temperature of the evaporator coils and if the temperature they have to be at is below freezing, it's going to freeze. Besides, you don't want cycling, that means you're wearing the compressor out.

You're in Ontario so you can't get R-134a unless you're licensed, but if you could the correct low side pressure would be 30 psi or a little higher (adjust higher as ambient temperature increases--once you have it at the point the frost is melting to dew at the evaporator outlet, you're set):

So you'll have to make do either with Duracool/RedTek "12a" (both are a blend of Propane and Butane--you could make your own blend but you're going to spend a lot of time figuring it out). This stuff is about the same as R-134a, just a little lower pressue:

Want to do it cheap and safer than the above stuff? Take all the old gas out, draw a vacuum (you should do this for the propane stuff anyways, really), and add R-152a, difluoroethane, AKA canned air. Yup, that's right, most of that duster gas you see on the shelves is this stuff (if it's not, you might be really lucky and find R-134a--it's legal for non-licensed people to buy it as long as it's intended to be sprayed directly into the air... ...dumb eh?). CAS 75-37-6. Here's the P/T chart:

25 psi is a good place to start for this stuff. You will need a side tap for the can, check eBay. The mastercool one fit well for me. You won't need much to fill the system, a lot less than you would have used with R-134a. Don't remove anything but an empty can from the tap. 25 psi might be too low for the low pressure switch to trigger, so you may need to adjust it. Have a look in the service manual to be certain. You don't want short cycling.

If you're leaking, though, before you do any of this, figure out how much oil you've likely leaked and replace the leaky part, and add oil (service manual should tell you what weight, you will want PAG oil, I recommend you make sure there's A/C dye in it).

My suggestion is you make a trip to the US. You will save a lot of money and you'll be able to buy real R-134a, just sitting there on the shelves, in convenient cans. Items you should pick up (yeah, I know, Harbor Freight is Princess Auto quality, but you're only doing this once...). This will save you WELL over $500 vs Canuck prices depending on the parts you need to buy:

Harbor Freight:
- A/C gauge set (about $50)
- A/C vacuum pump (get the one that goes on your air compressor, about $15)
- A/C disconnect tools (ONLY get the scissor style metal ones, DO NOT buy the plastic crap)

- PAG oil /w UV dye
- Orifice tube
- Accumulator (measure how much oil was in the old one and add that to the new one)
- Whatever part you discovered was busted
- A/C dye detection light (any UV light will do)
- A/C valve cores (if you need them)
- A/C valve core removal/installation tool (if you need it)

- Side can tap

The lines will probably be stuck. Since you have duster, turn it upside down, and spray only the MALE end until it's completely frozen while you undo the connection (wear gloves).

You should be able to find all sorts of guides on fixing your A/C system on the internets, so I'll let you have at whichever one makes you happy.

BTW: That RedTek setup? Yeah... It'll work in a pinch. You still need to add more refrigerant if you're freezing up, though. Either that or something's gone bad in the A/C system and it's so gunked up the evaporator isn't seeing the right pressure (which is why you need the proper gauges, the high side pressure in this case would be through the roof).
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