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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been a long time since I've been on here but I figured I would share my experience with Jeep Air's CJ air conditioning kit. In short, they're awesome!


Let me start out by saying I'm not a Jeep Air employee or have any affiliation with them. I just believe in their product so I'm happy to spread the word. In my opinion, they make the BEST aftermarket A/C system for your CJ. Trust me...I've used several different systems and none are better. I'm no A/C expert, but I have a very strong fundamental knowledge of them and I believe that this is by far the best bang for your buck!


I'm a big time OEM guy and for the most part I like nothing but original parts for my CJs, except when it comes to A/C! The factory air conditioner units have the air blowing perpendicular to the dash and no matter what you do with vent angles, they just do a really poor job getting the air directed at your face and chest (but with OEM unites your knees will stay nice and cool :) ). Jeep Air's units alleviate this problem as the under-dash evaporator unit already angles the vents at a 45* angle. All you have to do now is fine tune the vent to easily direct nice, cool air to your face and chest. Huge improvement over OEM units!

I've installed at least 10 Jeep Air A/C units over the years and they're remarkable. Figured I'd share my tips and tricks to make the installation a bit easier. Jeep Air units fit under the dash perfectly, look very much like OEM units, are easy to install and the price is definitely right! Most people think having A/C in a Jeep is pointless because Jeeps are meant to be driven with their tops off, and I agree to that about 7 months out of the year here in AZ. However, the summers here get 100* plus and it is sometimes nice to stay cool and not get sun burnt!

This write-up will cover the complete installation of Jeep Air's unit on my 1985 Scrambler...from start to finish. I've broken down the installation into 6 steps:

1. System orientation and checks
2. Preparing engine compartment area for system installation
3. Preparing under dash area for system installation
4. Installation of “engine side” air conditioner components
5. Installation of “cabin side” air conditioner components
6. System charging procedures

Dependent on time, I'll update the rest of the thread to cover all aspects. You'll see this is pretty dummy-proof.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Step 1 - System Orientation and Checks

Inventory: Immediately inventory and check your package contents to make sure you have everything prior to installation. It would suck to get started on the project thinking you'll be finished in no time to learn something is missing. I never had a problem with missing items, but better to be safe than sorry.
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Evaporator / Blower Unit: During the shipping process, it is possible (though unlikely) the motor slipped in the housing due to rough handling. Ensure that the blower wheel spins freely without any rubbing. If you can hear or feel rubbing, simply loosen the clamp and re-center the blower motor.

Wiring Information: It is important to be familiar with wiring requirements prior to starting the installation process. Jeep Air A/C kits utilize just 3 wires; power wire with an inline fuse, a ground wire, and a pressure switch wire.

Refrigerant Requirements: The Jeep Air CJ kit is designed to work with R134A refrigerant only. R12 and other variants of refrigerant will ruin the system. With R134A refrigerant, the system is engineered to produce vent temperatures between 37-45 F degrees with a high side pressure reading between 200-220psi. At no time should the high side exceed 250 PSI of stabilized pressure. The system requires approximately 1.5 lbs of refrigerant, which could slightly vary depending on pressure readings.
Jeep Air highly recommends the system be evacuated and charged by a professional A/C shop in your local area if you've never done this type of work before. Though evacuating and charging is not difficult, specialty tools are required to perform the job. For the person with do-it-yourself capabilities, it's really not that difficult to evacuate, leak test and charge your system. I'll include all this information on this thread.

IMPORTANT SYSTEM NOTES:
· Your system comes pre-oiled. DO NOT ADD any oil, dyes, leak solutions, etc. to your system as it may result in system failure and void your warranty.
· DO NOT use the sight glass to charge the system.
· DO NOT overcharge the system.



 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
2. Preparing engine compartment area for system installation

1. Disconnect negative battery lead from the battery

2. Drain coolant from bottom of the radiator. Once drained, disconnect all hoses/lines to the radiator and remove the radiator. If your Jeep is equipped with a transmission cooler, be sure to plug the lines to keep transmission fluid from leaking out.

3. Remove alternator and OEM alternator mounting brackets
I highly recommend that you remove the radiator fan. This only takes a couple of minutes and allows the installer more "wiggle room" to install components such as the condenser and the compressor/alternator mounting bracket.

NOTE: If your Jeep is equipped with a serpentine belt system, you'll need to source an OEM Sanden style compressor/alternator mounting bracket as Jeep Air's system is for standard v-belt configuration engines. These are commonly available from junkyards or AMC / Jeep salvage distributors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
3. Preparing under dash area for system installation

Remove the following items from the bottom flange of your dash panel:

  • OEM cigarette lighter, OEM ash tray (if equipped), Fresh air direction duct, and any aftermarket under dash accessory mounted to the flange.
  • Depending on location of your under dash courtesy lights, you may have to remove and relocate them if they interfere with the mounting flange of the evaporator unit.
  • Drill a ½" hole in the center of the transmission tunnel approximately 2-4 inches from the firewall. Once the evaporator unit is installed under the dash, this hole is where the condensation drain hole will be routed through to ensure any condensation drains outside of your Jeep's tub. Be cautious when drilling and inspect under the transmission tunnel to ensure no damage to your Jeep's transmission and/or miscellaneous Jeep components will occur.
  • Mount supplied blower motor support bracket to OEM mounting location just right of the gas pedal. The holes should be plugged on your firewall if your Jeep did not come with factory A/C. Please note if the top of your gas pedal is higher than the blower motor support bracket, you will have to trim off the excess so that the gas pedal sits approximately ½" below the top of the support bracket. This is rarely a problem with CJs.
  • Inspect your firewall on the passenger side of the Jeep for a suitable location to drill your hose pass-through holes. This requires the use of a 1.25" hole saw (be sure to use a pilot bit) with minimal spacing of 2" between the holes (center to center). I like to drill the holes in the blank plate which is removed by the factory when they install factory A/C. If your Jeep never had factory A/C, this is a great place to route your hoses. It certainly looks OEM, is out of the way and easily accessible. Plus, it's reversable if you ever decide to remove your A/C kit from your CJ.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Photos for step 3.

  • First photo shows blower motor support bracket installed in factory location
  • Second photo shows 1.25" holes drilled into the factory blank plate where OEM A/C hoses are routed through
  • Third photo shows rubber grommets installed after trimming, which ensures they sharp firewall metal does not damage the hoses and also seals the cabin air from the engine compartment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Step 4 - Installation of "engine side" air conditioner components

There are multiple steps involved with the engine side component installation. I've learned a lot along the way from installing so many units and I feel these are the best/most efficient steps to follow to ensure a trouble-free install.

Installation of the condenser unit:
• Test fit the condenser by centering it on the inside of the grille. The condenser fittings should face the passenger side with the larger fitting (high side) on the top. If aftermarket accessories are installed within the void area of the grille where the condenser will be mounted, these items will have to be removed or relocated.
• On two of the mounting brackets, make 90* bends approximately 1" from the end. These two brackets will serve to mount the condenser to the top of your Jeep's grille. I highly recommend using a vice to hold the brackets firmly so you can bend them into shape by hand or with a small mallet. The brackets are very flexible and the bends should come out very clean. Once bent, hold the condenser vertically centered inside the grille void and measure/cut the bent brackets so that the condenser sits centered vertically inside the grille. Using self-tapping screws, screw brackets into pre-manufactured holes on the top of the condenser.

• With the bent brackets installed on top side of the condenser, you'll now want to install the straight mounting brackets on the bottom side of the condenser. Once installed, carefully place the condenser assembly into the grille void. The bent brackets will support the radiator while you check the length of the bottom straight brackets. Mark a cut line on the bottom brackets so that it is even with the bottom flange of the grille. Remove radiator cut the excess bracket length off with a pair of tin snips.

• Place the condenser assembly back in to the grille void. Utilizing two self-tapping screws for each bracket, secure the mounting brackets to the top flange and bottom lip of your Jeep's grille. Your condenser is now correctly installed.
Installation of the air dryer unit • The air dryer gets mounted on the passenger side inner fender between the OEM starter solenoid location and the grille. I recommend finding a flat mounting location on the upper side of the passenger fender so that the top fitting of the air dryer is in line with the opening in the grille in which the hoses will come out of. Once positioned by hand, use 2 self-tapping screws and secure the dryer bracket into place. Ensure the "In" fitting on the dryer is facing the front of the vehicle.
Installation of the compressor / alternator mounting assembly bracket. • Depending on the engine you're installing your Jeep Air A/C kit on, some of the spacers may not be utilized. Since my 85 Scrambler has the 258 6-cylinder, the bracket install was simple. Jeep Air's instructions for this part is very basic and easy to follow along.

• You can mount the compressor so that the fittings are on the top or the side, whichever is easiest for your system's hose routing. I prefer orientating the compressor so the fittings are on the top.

• Once the compressor is installed, you install the alternator above the compressor on the Jeep Air mounting brackets. Pretty simple. Your alternator spins off a dedicated belt from the compressor pulley rotation.

• For the time being, loosely install system belts and mount tensioning bracket. Final tightening of system belts will be performed after system installation is completed and before the vacuuming and charging process.

Engine side hose installation NOTE: If you do not have your own hose crimper, you'll want to perform a "mach hose installation" prior to final assembly. Basically, you'll cut all hoses to length during this process and insert the hose ends into the hose fittings so that you can bring your hoses to a reputable A/C shop for professional crimping. Be careful to not cut the hoses too small as you do not want to put any strain on the hoses. Also, when installing the hose fittings, make sure you install the green o-rings to the barbed end of the fittings prior to permanent installation. These o-rings are necessary for a leak-free system seal. No oil is necessary on the o-rings.
• On the bottom fitting (high side) of the condenser is where the 90* hose fitting will attach. Direct this hose fitting upwards so that you can route the #6 hose up through the passenger side grille opening and to the "In" port of the air dryer. The fitting to the air dryer should be a straight. Cut hose to appropriate length and crimp fitting ends.

• The upper fitting on the condenser is the low-side fitting. The #8 hose will route from the upper fitting to the low-side of the compressor. Route the hose through the passenger side grille opening and cut the hose to the appropriate length so that it reaches the low-side of the compressor and crimp fitting ends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
5. Installation of "cabin side" air conditioner components

Due to the amount of instruments, cables, etc. located behind the compact dash of your Jeep, the installation of the evaporator assembly (under dash unit) is sometimes tricky. There are a lot of items under the dash that could hinder clearance. Be sure to pre-arrange most of your existing under dash wiring so that there is as much of a void as possible behind the area where your factory heater control cables are positioned on your dash. Helpful hints include zip tying factory wires together and positioning them as close to the front of the dash as you can without putting strain on the wires/components. This will help with clearance requirements for the A/C blower motor. If the evaporator is having difficulty positioning into place it is because there are under dash wires, relays, etc. getting in the way. Simply remove the evaporator and reassess your under dash void area.



  • There are two refrigerant lines that connect to the evaporator assembly. The thinner line, which is the high-pressure side, (# 6) connects from the small fitting behind the evaporator to the outlet side of the dryer/receiver. The thicker line, which is the low pressure side, (# 10) connects from the larger backside fitting to the low-pressure side of the compressor. I highly recommend having these hoses cut to proper length and professionally crimped prior to installation of the evaporator assembly. If done this way, you'll have to install the firewall grommet on the # 10 hose prior to crimping the fittings on because once the fittings are installed you cannot slide the grommet on to the refrigerant line as it'll be too thick.

  • Connect refrigerant lines (ensure o-rings are installed) to the back side of the evaporator assembly. You'll want the fittings facing the downward direction during final torque so the hoses will have a natural routing direction to the pre-drilled firewall holes.

  • Mount evaporator to the bottom of the dash through the four pre-slotted flange holes on the unit. NOTE: You may have to carefully cut a notch on the metal mounting flange so that your evaporator assembly flange does not interfere with the glove box hinge. The cut out measures approximately 2" long x .75" deep and starts 3.5" from the end of the passenger side.

  • Route hoses through the firewall holes utilizing supplied grommets. The # 6 hose will go the receiver/dryer outlet and the # 10 hose will go to the compressor.

  • The long blue wire on the back of the evaporator assembly routes to the pressure switch on the engine side. Instead of drilling an additional hole in the firewall for this wire, Jeep Air recommends simply wrapping (or zip tying) the wire to the # 6 hose and routing it through the firewall grommet. This will eliminate unnecessary additional drill holes.

  • Wire connections: The yellow wire on the evaporator assembly blower motor is the ground. Be sure to find a good, suitable ground under the dash or on the firewall and make your connection. The blue wire is your blower motor power wire. Using a test light, find a power source under the dash that is hot only in the run position. This will ensure your blower motor can only run while your Jeep is running. With the blue wire through the firewall, route it to the pressure switch connector that connects to the switch on top of receiver/dryer. This switch ensures that the compressor will only run where there is adequate system refrigerant pressure. The pressure switch connector will then route to your compressor's electrical connection.

  • Utilizing the supplied ½" drain hose, connect the hose from the back side drain condensation drain fitting and route the hose to the pre-drilled hole you made in the transmission tunnel. Cut drain hose so that the hose is long enough to go approximately 2" through the drain hole.

  • Mount your OEM cigarette lighter and ash tray to the bottom of the evaporator unit utilizing self-tapping screws. The ash tray mounts underneath the blower motor controls and the cigarette lighter mounts anywhere on the bottom of the evaporator (centered is best). Ensure the both the cigarette lighter and ash tray mounting screws are clear from any obvious system components to avoid damage.

  • Your Jeep Air A/C kit is now ready for evacuation and charging. Jeep Air recommends bringing your Jeep to a reputable A/C shop for this procedure, unless you're comfortable doing it yourself....it's easy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Step 6 - System Charging Procedures.

Though charging the system yourself might initially seem intimidating, it really is not that difficult if you have the correct tools. Most auto parts stores will rent you the required gauges and vacuum pump so that you can charge the system yourself. Follow these simple steps to charge the system yourself. Jeep Air warned me that improper charging procedures would void the warranty, but after watching several YouTube videos I felt confident it was an easy job.
YouTuber ChrisFix has excellent charging instructions which may answer some of your questions after reading the instructions below in this post. I recommend watching the video first so you'll have an easier time following my instrutions.

  • Assemble your gauges and hang them on the inside of your hood in a position that makes them easy to read. Ensure the blue line is connected to the low-pressure fitting on the left side of the gauge cluster. The yellow line connects to the middle of the gauge cluster as serves as your vacuum and charging line. The red line connects to the high pressure fitting on the right side of the gauge assembly. You really can't mess this up as they'll only go on one way.

  • The first step of charging your system is vacuuming out air and contaminants from the system since you had the system "open" during the installation. Connect the red (high pressure) and blue (low pressure) vacuum lines and fittings to the ports on the high and low pressure side of the compressor line fittings. The fittings are different sizes so this process is error proof.

  • Connect the yellow hose from your gauge assembly to your vacuum pump.

  • Ensure both the high and low pressure Schrader valves are fully open by turning the knob on the valve to the "open" position. This depresses the Schrader valve and the system is now considered open. You'll also want to ensure that both the low pressure and high pressure knobs on the gauges are open. With this configuration, your A/C system is full open and ready for vacuum.

  • Turn your vacuum pump on and vacuum the system for approximately 45 minutes. This ensures your system is free from contaminants prior to charging. During vacuum, the low pressure reading should read between 20-25 Hg vacuum (keep in mind vacuum is a negative number so the gauge will read below zero). The high pressure gauge should read negative and will likely be "pegged" out. Before turning off the vacuum pump after the 45 minutes of vacuuming, close the high and low pressure knobs on the gauges (NOT on the compressor hose fittings, you need to leave these open).
Your system is now done with the vacuuming process. Before charging, make sure you have a fully sealed system by verifying gauge readings have not shifted. The low pressure reading should still be between 20-25 Hg vacuum. The high pressure should still be reading negative pressure. If any of these gauge readings have shifted after an hour of holding a vacuum, you have a leak and need to determine where it is coming from. The most likely culprit is loose fittings or you forgot to install an o-ring somewhere. Check the entire system thoroughly to determine where the leak is coming from. Once you have diagnosed and repaired the source of the leak, you'll want to vacuum test again per the instructions above in this post.

  • You are now ready to charge your system. The system requires approximately 1.5 lbs (purchase two 12 ounce cans but you might not use all of it) of R-134A refrigerant (any other type of refrigerant WILL damage the system and void your warranty). Remove the yellow line from the vacuum pump and connect it to a can of refrigerant. You will need to purchase an adapter that screws to the can which depresses the plunger so you can charge the system. If your system reaches

  • Once the can of refrigerant is open, open the cap and depress the yellow line Schrader valve on the gauge for a second or two so that air in the yellow line purges out. This ensures there will be no air in your system while charging.

  • Start your Jeep and turn the air conditioner fan on the highest speed setting and the coldest temperature setting. Open the low-pressure valve on the gauge. During charging, you will not open the high-pressure valve at any time. At this time, your system should be filling with refrigerant. Gently shake the can as the system is filling.

  • While charging the system, the pressure switch on the dryer/receiver will start reading pressure and when minimum pressure requirements are met will turn on the compressor. While charging the system, you should feel the can of refrigerant getting very cold to the touch. The can will also become lighter as the system continues to charge. The air out of the vents should start getting colder as pressure builds.

  • Once the first can is empty, you'll have to close the low pressure valve on the gauge assembly prior to changing out refrigerant cans. This ensures no air will be introduced to the system. Connect and open (depress the adapter plunger to open the can) the second can of refrigerant, depress the yellow line Schrader valve again to purge any air out of the yellow line prior to opening the low-side pressure valve. Open the low-side pressure valve and your system will now be charging again.

  • The most important part of charging your system is the high-side pressure reading. Though the Jeep Air A/C kit is designed to use approximately 1.5 lbs of refrigerant, this can fluctuate slightly. You'll want to charge the system until the high-side pressure gauge reads and stabilizes between 200-220 lbs of pressure. Ensure that at no time the stabilized high-side pressure reading exceeds 250 psi. Once the high-side is stabilized between this pressure reading, you'll feel very cold air coming out of the vents and your charge is complete. The air temperature reading from the vents should read between 37-45 degrees if the system is functioning properly. NOTE: sometimes the pressure will drop and stabilize approximately 20-30 psi once the valves are closed.

  • Remove the high-side and low-side fittings from the Schrader valve ports on your A/C lines. Your system charge is now complete.
Enjoy your nice, cold air! If you have any issues, feel free to PM me. I'm not a Jeep Air employee or anything like that. I just believe in their product and I'm happy to help out fellow Jeepers.
 

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Very nice write up. I will probably read it again when I put my AC back in when I get mine going again (Tub and engine Swap). I like that 45 degree angle housing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great details. I plan on doing an AC swap at some point, I'll be saving this write up. Good Job!
Thanks. JeepAir is now offering 10% off their site until the end of May by using code "CJ FORUM 10" (<<< no spaces; for some reason the page is doing weird formatting on it) on their site.

Just FYI. Again, no business affiliation with them whatsoever.
 

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Huge thank you! Appreciate the time you took to put this together. Perfect timing as I will be installing Jeep Air in a month or two.

One question I have. As I will be getting their Heat + AC System, I'm assuming that the large OEM heater box under the dash gets removed?
 

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Huge thank you! Appreciate the time you took to put this together. Perfect timing as I will be installing Jeep Air in a month or two.

One question I have. As I will be getting their Heat + AC System, I'm assuming that the large OEM heater box under the dash gets removed?
Yes for the heat/ac unit the entire heater system needs to be removed. The fresh air box can be removed as it is unused afterward, I kept mine and only the drain hose was in the way, I made it work. Here is my install on that exact setup.
https://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f8/jeep-air-ac-heater-install-4423729/
 

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Hey ALL! Just joined the Jeep club and picked up a 1985 CJ7 with a inline 6. Stick shift, 4x4. Soooo basically, I have no idea what I'm doing :|
It's in great condition so I don't plan on running it hard, maybe some light open trails, climb a small hill every now and then. I notice the brake pedal is quite a bit of distance higher than the gas pedal. I know they were fast and loose in the 80's but really seems like a panic moment accident ready to happen as your foot slides UNDER the brake pedal. Am I delusional? Is there a retro fix for this?
I'm in AZ so my first thought is how to get air conditioning in this beast? I don't have the time to do-it-myself but would like to know if there is anyone in AZ that I can pay to do the job? Or any shop recommendations?
Thanks.
 

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So after 10% discount on the $949 for teh heat and A/c or A/c only, plus shipping and refrigerants and special tools you could see about $1000 in the air con. I must say, it seems reasonable value.

My local air con guy can piece together a system installed for less but without the wide under dash vent system, his would be a narrow box behind the gearshift. I had such on Bagusjeep and did not use it for 10 years, went to turn it on and the knobs crumbled.
 

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Just wanted to put the cherry on top...I recently bought myself the same JeepAir A/C & Heat kit for my 1979 CJ5 258. I would say the customer service was awesome from JeepAir...Better yet, I was even able to drive there and pick it up given that they're 1.5 miles away from my house here in Ocala, Florida. Can't wait to install it!
 

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I wonder what an ac shop would charge to vacuum and charge up. ?? Someone was putting a Vintage Air unit in their CJ - probably twice the money & work. Any one do anything other than Jeep Air? Not that they aren’t a good way to go.
 

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Old Air makes a similar units like the Jeep Air. I have been to the plant where they make Old Air, since it’s local to me. They look like a solid product. I have done a couple of Jeep Air units and will continue to use them. I prefer to buy the under dash unit only and piece together the rest of the components.
 
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