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Old 07-03-2020, 06:21 PM   #1
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Air conditioning on a 1996 Tracker toad.

We love our Tracker. It takes up back where it would be hard to get otherwise. It is a daily driver when we are in a campground.

The AC is less than frigid though. It works fine under normal circumstances but when the temp is 90 or above it doesn't get the car cool so well. It is now 102f in Pahrump Arizona and it barely makes a difference at idle or in heavy traffic.

The compressor is turning, the pressures on both sides of the gauges are in the correct range. The fan under the hood runs. Is this just the difference between a car from this century and the last plus a black paint job and a black soft top?
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Old 07-03-2020, 06:39 PM   #2
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Looks like you have about three strikes against you.
1. Black car. Absorbs heat.
2. Soft top. Little insulation.
3. Early years of the R-134a.

All is not lost, however.
Compressor is turning and pressures are normal. I assume from this you have a manifold gage set. Yes? So what pressures are you seeing and at what ambient temperature?

Is the small discharge pipe from the compressor hot? Careful. Is the larger suction line cold and sweating? Is the compressor sweating?
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Old 07-03-2020, 07:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xmcdog View Post
Looks like you have about three strikes against you.
1. Black car. Absorbs heat.
2. Soft top. Little insulation.
3. Early years of the R-134a.

All is not lost, however.
Compressor is turning and pressures are normal. I assume from this you have a manifold gage set. Yes? So what pressures are you seeing and at what ambient temperature?

Is the small discharge pipe from the compressor hot? Careful. Is the larger suction line cold and sweating? Is the compressor sweating?
The Low side is 35lbs at 90f. I admit to approximation on the high side so I'll check the other things tomorrow and let you know. Thanks.
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Old 07-03-2020, 07:27 PM   #4
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Does the tracker have temperature doors? They may be manual or electronic, but if they are broken, they won't go all the way cold or all the way hot. I had an old Jeep that had that problem. Had to cut a hole in the duct work to get at them, as I did not want to pull the whole dash.
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Old 07-03-2020, 08:17 PM   #5
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I am in Florida where we have a mix of hit sun and clouds. I will never buy anything but white cars and trucks.

Touch your car's hood after it is in the sun. It will be way too hot to keep your hands on it. If you touch a white car it is not hot, but warm.

Good luck getting it fixed.
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Old 07-03-2020, 09:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveinet View Post
Does the tracker have temperature doors? They may be manual or electronic, but if they are broken, they won't go all the way cold or all the way hot. I had an old Jeep that had that problem. Had to cut a hole in the duct work to get at them, as I did not want to pull the whole dash.
Often called the 'blend' door. Mixes hot and cold air based on the 'hot to cold' knob or slider on your dash. It might not be moving to full cold and/or the seals around it are gone.

Another likely problem on older vehicles is it's highly likely your evaporator core is plugged up with decades of dirt and leaves. Cleaned out the one on my 93 pickup and it helped... eventually just replaced it because it was so gummed up so bad. Often requires some disassembly to get to it for cleaning
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Often called the 'blend' door. Mixes hot and cold air based on the 'hot to cold' knob or slider on your dash. It might not be moving to full cold and/or the seals around it are gone.

Another likely problem on older vehicles is it's highly likely your evaporator core is plugged up with decades of dirt and leaves. Cleaned out the one on my 93 pickup and it helped... eventually just replaced it because it was so gummed up so bad. Often requires some disassembly to get to it for cleaning
Good suggestion but unlikely with a suction pressure of 35 PSIG.
The stuck blend door is possible but the suction pressure does not suggest this.
Always interesting tracing faults.
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:47 AM   #8
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Can't add much to the A/C diagnosis. Our 1993 Tracker only left the Northeast once, and that was when it was new, and the A/C worked fine.

What a fun car, though! It was the first and last ragtop we owned. Ours had the "rollbar" made of two pieces of pressed sheet steel, that would have flattened like a pancake in a rollover. Both the ragtop and the insulated hardtop we bought for it were two-piece, one forward and one aft of the "rollbar.". The hardtop allowed us to keep it for eight Winters. Repaired the rust once, but the second time was not worth it.

One quick story and I'll stop. We had a pair of spinster sisters in our church, both over eighty and quite reserved. Every now and then, on a Summer evening, the wife and I would pull the top off the Tracker then call them to go out for ice cream at the local outdoor stand. No matter what they were up to, they would say "yes." (ice cream is a passion in the Northeast, I'm told). We'd pull up at their farmhouse, load them in those "elevated" rear bucket seats, and go charging off. The joyous look on their faces as the wind destroyed their hairdos sticks with me to this day!
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Old 07-04-2020, 07:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xmcdog View Post
Looks like you have about three strikes against you.
1. Black car. Absorbs heat.
2. Soft top. Little insulation.
3. Early years of the R-134a.

All is not lost, however.
Compressor is turning and pressures are normal. I assume from this you have a manifold gage set. Yes? So what pressures are you seeing and at what ambient temperature?

Is the small discharge pipe from the compressor hot? Careful. Is the larger suction line cold and sweating? Is the compressor sweating?

Here is the info then some. Yes.. Black Tracker with black ragtop. We needed one to take fulltiming and this was in great condition. It had been blue before they painted it! Plan is to repaint in Mexico but Rona virus got there first. Next year.





Testing was done with the car having been left in in shade for hours.

First pic while not running. Air temp 104f Pressures about equal, good?
Second pic running and warmed up air also 104f. I think that is good. I had 35 which seemed high so I made it 30psi.

Temp under hood 149f temp od the low side pipe varied from 117 to 124. It was not cold but cool. No condensation but humidity here is 4 today so nothing condenses. Should that pipe be insulated?
After letting the AC run for 20 minutes the inside temp in the foot-well was 75f and the air coming out of the center vent was 40f. After that I took it out in the sun on the road for 20 minutes. The inside temps rose to the upper 80's and the air from the vents was not so cold not not warm.

I couldn't find a vent on the compressor. The High pressure side gets really hot.



We were thinking of putting reflective insulation on the underside of the top.

Can't paint the top white. What do you think?
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Old 07-04-2020, 08:34 PM   #10
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Insulating the top will help some, also tinting the windows with a special heat reflective tint material will help. Your fighting heat absorption, your a/c unit is operating as good as can be expected given the circumstances.
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Old 07-05-2020, 07:03 AM   #11
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The discharge at the compressor can get very hot. Ask me how I know. I have the scars. Got the tee shirt.

Suction pressure will be high at those temps.

Without a highside gage it is hard to say but I suspect that the condenser is in need of cleaning or the fan is not working. The top of the condenser will be hot.
The return pipe from the condenser should be cool to warm.
If hot you have a condenser problem.

It may also still be low in refrigerant.

Do the touchie, feelie, thing and we can go from there.
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Old 07-05-2020, 08:13 AM   #12
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Does it have separate cooling and condensing fans? Had a similar issue one time with a car. The fans would turn but not fast enough to cool the condenser.
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Old 07-05-2020, 11:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwhite1223 View Post
Does it have separate cooling and condensing fans? Had a similar issue one time with a car. The fans would turn but not fast enough to cool the condenser.
One fan and it does run.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lllkrob View Post
Insulating the top will help some, also tinting the windows with a special heat reflective tint material will help. Your fighting heat absorption, your a/c unit is operating as good as can be expected given the circumstances.

Kind of what I figured but I it can't hurt to check. Windows are tinted with special high end heat reflecting film. I'll do the roof.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Xmcdog View Post
The discharge at the compressor can get very hot. Ask me how I know. I have the scars. Got the tee shirt.

Suction pressure will be high at those temps.

Without a highside gage it is hard to say but I suspect that the condenser is in need of cleaning or the fan is not working. The top of the condenser will be hot.
The return pipe from the condenser should be cool to warm.
If hot you have a condenser problem.

It may also still be low in refrigerant.

Do the touchie, feelie, thing and we can go from there.

I have 30psi (@103f) on the low side because that is the suggested pressure for many vehicles. If I go over 38 or so the compressor kicks out. Would it help to run 35psi (@103f) if it behaves properly?



The return pipe (low pressure) is, as mentioned, cool to very slightly warm.

My finger agrees about the temp.I meant to send photos of the manifold. Must have messed up. I'll resend.First is with car not running, second is with car running and AC on max. I'll check the condenser for heat and report back. Thanks
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Old 07-05-2020, 01:29 PM   #14
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The Condenser does get warm/hot when the AC is running and the low side pressure runs 130lbs sq in with 30lbs sq in on the low side both at 103f.
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