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Old 07-06-2015, 06:18 PM   #1
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A/C - What's Your Opinion?

So, I have a problem that many owners of RVs suffer, particularly vintage RVs. My dash air is not producing cold A/C. And it's a r12 system.

Let me say up front that I'm not interested in fixing it myself. I'm prepared to pay a shop to fix it. So I go into my local independent shop that does a fair amount of RV work, and has a good reputation.

I mention that mechanically it seems to be operating but not producing cold air. I add that the compressor does not seem to be cycling on, maybe a sign of low refrigerant. I also mention that I want to continue using r12. They still can get r12. I ask "what can we do to get it producing cold air?

The owner says " the problems with RVs is that they sit a lot not being used. Seals, dry out etc." He goes on to say "It needs a complete servicing, run a vacuum, blah, blah, blah, check the components, make sure everything is working, get it producing cold a/c ...And then have you drive it running the a/c for about a week and see if it holds", or words to that effect. "And then bring it back" if needed. He mentions that my system uses about 3 pounds of r12 @ $80 per pound these days.

I ask "so how much is a service such as you are describing?" He says $670, as if he didn't have to think about it.

WHAT'S YOUR OPINION? Is this reasonable? Or am I getting scammed?

2000 Pace Arrow Vision 36B
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:45 PM   #2
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You can't buy R-12 any more here; at any price; , did you ask about a conversion to 134-A.
Had to convert my 93 Dakota after a deer incident, worked fine.

As with any service that seems pricy , and that seems pricy, shop around.

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Old 07-06-2015, 06:47 PM   #3
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Do you know anyone that is an a/c service tech? If so maybe you can barter something. I do it a lot.
94 Thor Residency 3500 That needs some work,11 JKU Rubicon toad, 01 off road ready TJ toad
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:52 PM   #4
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I've converted many cars to r134 and cools just fine. It's in the best interest of your wallet to convert cause if you need a can every so often to keep your system charged it will cost you $6 a can instead of $60-$80 a can for r12 if you can find it and then you have to be ASE certified to buy it.
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Old 07-06-2015, 07:09 PM   #5
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It is a shame you are in California. There is a refrigerant available called HC-12a that can replace R-12 without any changes to the system. It, like so many other things, is illegal there. But, if you were traveling you could get to somewhere that has it and is not afraid of using it.

This gas is a mixture of propane (very pure) and isobutane. Yes, it is flammable, but so is R-134. If you have two pound of this, and it bothers you, maybe you should be afraid of the 40# in the LP tank or the 300~600# of flammable liquid fuel in the tanks.

A lifelong waterman and his bride going dry places for as long as the fuel money lasts.
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Old 07-06-2015, 07:11 PM   #6
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NOS R-12 easily available on Craigslist here. I just checked near me, and asking price seems to be $20-30 a can. My understanding is you don't need certification to buy it on the "used" market. Buying it without properly diagnosing and repairing your system would be a waste. Long term, it might be best to convert the system.

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Old 07-07-2015, 06:49 AM   #7
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I'd switch it to DuraCool. No need to remove the remaining R-12, just add the DuraCool and a can of the correct system lubricant.
1997 Newmar Mountain Aire 3757
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:57 AM   #8
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Couple things.

Your servicer is mostly right about the seals and R134 will be worse... unless bigger bucks spent.

R134 has smaller molecules than R12 so it seeps through the R12 hoses.

Further the R12 systems were not built that we'll to begin with as it was common to add a can every year.

Proper conversion requires every rubber part to be changed or you will be topping off often.

We have 30 pound cans of R134 (one from Sams when it was cheap and second found on side of road...good day that was) and we top off the converted cars every year or 2.

Back when I managed a switching center the commercial company that maintained the acid systems advised they used Hot-Shot as a direct replacement for R12 ( and many others).

We got the 30 pounders for about same cost as the R134 ( we are in ca).

It works well and any action guy can get it.

Suggest you find a competent worker who can help you.

Avoid going to shops unless you already have a relationship with one.

You would be better to work with the guy who maintains your home at to have them buy the 30 pound unit for you and you keep it and pay them hourly to charge your system.

Many will do this.
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:01 AM   #9
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I generally do not try to disguise the fact I'm not real keen on having an RV dealer even touch my coach. With that in mind, I think you need to do "due diligence" by going someplace else for another estimate. If it were me, that would darn sure not me another RV dealer. I would find a shop that works on medium duty trucks or possibly a shop whose specialty is AC repairs.
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:20 AM   #10
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If I remember correctly, using R-134a as a replacement for R-12 will decrease the efficiency of your system by about 10%. Keep that in mind as you make your decision.
Larry & Cheryl Oscar, Louie, Ranger & Henry (our Springers)
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:42 AM   #11
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R-134 is not quite as good but of that 600+ which I do think is a bit high but not totally out of line.. Just on the high end. 240 dollars is R-12.

I think 200 labor might be more reasonable though.

Conversion to R-137 will save you around 200 dollars.
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:30 AM   #12
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R-12a here $15 a can
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:44 AM   #13
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Sounds a little high. Evacuate and recover any R12 thats in the system. check oil in compressor, evacuate and leak check, re-fill with new or recovered R12, add UV leak check dye.

$300 - $400 if no problems.

Throw in condenser and evaporator cleaning, new drive belt, You could be at $500 as long as there are no problems.

The cost of old original R12 has come down significantly as there is no demand for it.
1999 Fleetwood Southwind 35S (Ford F53 6.8L V10) - Toad 2003 Saturn Vue.

It won't do MACH 2, but I can get a sandwich and take a pee.
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:57 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by PushedAround View Post
If I remember correctly, using R-134a as a replacement for R-12 will decrease the efficiency of your system by about 10%. Keep that in mind as you make your decision.
That may be true but IMO a working A/C system with R-134a in it is 100% better than a non-working R12 A/C system.
'96 Safari

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