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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Mechanical Maintenance: Break-in / Oil & Fluids / Servicing / Warranty > Recharging AC with R134



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      06-03-2011, 11:45 PM   #1
stuknnj
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Recharging AC with R134

Thanks in part to the hot week we just had I found out my AC is not really cooling off anything. So I bought the recharge kit figuring it just needed a little juice. Long story short I'm a dumba** and could not get the quick connector thing to snap on so it basically emptied most of the existing refrigerant . I think this is the easiest DIY I have done yet I found a way to eff it up, but I digress. I guess I will try again tomorrow with another can. I might take some pictures in case any other newbs want some visual help. It is really easy except I suck with the quick connector.
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      06-04-2011, 06:08 AM   #2
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Make sure you know what you are doing. Recharging AC systems is dangerous if you are clueless. Parts of the system are under very high pressure. Be carefull. I recommend getting the Bentley service manual for maintenance items such as this.
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      06-06-2011, 08:28 PM   #3
stuknnj
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Not really clueless, I used to work at a mechanics shop. However, I remember them screwing on for some reason. Anyway I got it to work, I wasnt pushing down hard enough when trying to get it to connect. Definitely feel the difference it was 88˚ today and the air was ice cold.
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      06-06-2011, 10:08 PM   #4
txusa03
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congrats, how about them pics...what tools and where is the connection? TIA

It was 105 here today!
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      06-06-2011, 10:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txusa03 View Post
congrats, how about them pics...what tools and where is the connection? TIA

It was 105 here today!
You must be in PHX like me.. +1 on Pics, name of kit, cost? Mine could probably use a little juice. How do you get the pressure right? I should probably dig out the Bentley..
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      06-18-2011, 01:49 PM   #6
stuknnj
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hope this helps

Sorry, got a lil busy and forgot... I got the kit from AutoZone, same can in the picture except it was 18oz and same gauge tho.
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Disclaimer: I am not a pro, I have done this previously and am providing a description of my quest for anyone who is interested.

So here goes... The only tools you need is your hands, gloves, and ability to use the stupid quick connect. First you're gonna need to start the car and let it run for about 5 minutes with the ac on max.


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Give the canister a good shake for about 30 seconds; then attach the hose on the side with the opener, if it didn't come together. DO NOT TURN THE NOZZLE ON YET, the can is pressurized and it comes out quickly and feels like cryo.
Open the hood and remove the cap on the low pressure line (the left side of the vehicle, right next to the power steering fluid reservoir). Nothing will happen its like a tire valve cap.

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Size:  128.4 KB Once connected the pressure gauge will move to let you know how much pressure is in the system. On this one the pressure gauge was temp aligned so now calculation needed. FYI if it's in the blue you probably have a leak. Red means overcharged, stop go to a service facility. This shouldnt happen with one can unless you are at the top of the gauge in which case you need to go in to a center anyway and have the refrigerant removed and refilled.Name:  gauge.jpg
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Ok if you dont need to go to a service center go ahead and turn the nozzle all the way down. Once it cannot turn anymore began to agitate the can, doesnt need to be vigorous just keep moving every so often. If you sit it down make sure it is upright but try to keep moving it. Depending on the can size it take between 5 and 15 minutes to empty. So after about 5 close the nozzle and see where you are on the pressure gauge. If the can begins to feel empty turn it upside down for a couple seconds. Once finished pop off the quick connector and close the cap and the hood. Grab some tiger blood and enjoy the cold air... Oh and recycleName:  green.jpg
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If the can is not empty or you reached the desired pressure the canister must be stored with the hose connected. I left it on a shelf and it was fine if you move the can though the refrigerant activates again and may start coming out, so be mindful if storing. DO NOT STORE IN VEHICLE.
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      06-19-2011, 04:45 PM   #7
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Nice DIY. Thanks! Found a lot of good information and DIY video on the IDQ website:

http://www.idqusa.com/index.html

Last edited by AlanAZ; 06-19-2011 at 06:56 PM.
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      06-20-2011, 12:24 PM   #8
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This is awesome, good to know how these things work when you live in hot climate like Texas. Thanks OP for a great DIY and Alan for the link. I also been researching this topic in general (not BMW specific). I wanted to throw something out here to get your opinion since I am noob at this.

I read that there are many different additives in the refrigerant (like sealant). I was told to avoid these type of additives. I have not been to the store to look at what is on the shelf.

Also, if you don't know which line is low pressure and which is high pressure, you turn on AC max and which ever line is cold, that is the line you should use to add refrigerant (low pressure line). Someone confirm this as general way to test.

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      06-20-2011, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
I read that there are many different additives in the refrigerant (like sealant). I was told to avoid these type of additives. I have not been to the store to look at what is on the shelf.
Correct, avoid those with sealer. Based on other threads I've read, the one shown above, "Arctic Freeze R134a+", appears to be the best for our cars.

The Bentley manual didn't provide any additional information on recharging other than what's on the sticker under our hoods.

Other things I've gleaned so far: Run the system for 5+ mins for it to stabilize, the compressor must be engaged while you recharge, set for max cold with the windows open. The max pressure is based on outside air temp, see chart on can or IDQ website, or your gauge may have that. I've seen somethings written on burping the hose or line, but haven't resolved what that means yet.

Last edited by AlanAZ; 06-20-2011 at 02:42 PM.
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      06-20-2011, 02:42 PM   #10
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Subscribed. OP, thanks for the DIY with pics. Also, thanks for posting experiences. There are no dumb moves, especially when you are helping other members skate around potential problems.
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If no codes are being thrown use Chevron Techron fuel injector cleaner (concentrate). It solves rpm fluctuating upon cold start-up. Also, for most BMW problems start off by scanning your car with the Peake Research Tool. It contains the actual BMW codes. If you want to register a newly installed battery for free (just buy a $10 cable) and google/download BMWLogger
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      06-20-2011, 05:57 PM   #11
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"burping" a line, is when you remove the air, somebody else told me that but I am not sure how to do that with the refrigerant. It usually is for radiators, brake lines things like that where you vent the air.
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      06-23-2011, 03:23 PM   #12
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Does "burping" refers to the practice of opening the can's valve slightly so the refrigerant gas displaces the air in the hose, before the hose is attached to the service fitting?
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      06-23-2011, 03:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuknnj View Post
Not really clueless, I used to work at a mechanics shop. However, I remember them screwing on for some reason....
Worked in a shop during the R12 years?
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      06-24-2011, 07:09 AM   #14
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How much PSI should be added into the AC if I emptied out a 12 oz of Artic Freeze refrigerant.

Before adding refrigerant, I had 34 PSI in the system. After adding I now have 38 PSI. I only gained 4 PSI from the 12 oz can, normal or something wrong with my AC?

AC feels really cool (MAX output) inside the garage...but I think it might be a psychological mind thing since I just added refrigerant...
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      06-25-2011, 01:48 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bufasion View Post
Does "burping" refers to the practice of opening the can's valve slightly so the refrigerant gas displaces the air in the hose, before the hose is attached to the service fitting?
Possibly, I believe that is what people were referring to but I wasnt willing to try it because of the way it sprays out when you pierce the can. I could see myself wasting another can...


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Originally Posted by bufasion View Post
Worked in a shop during the R12 years?
I dont think so, unless somebody was breaking the law lol. I started there in 2001 but I could be remembering the connecter wrong

Quote:
Originally Posted by txusa03 View Post
How much PSI should be added into the AC if I emptied out a 12 oz of Artic Freeze refrigerant.

Before adding refrigerant, I had 34 PSI in the system. After adding I now have 38 PSI. I only gained 4 PSI from the 12 oz can, normal or something wrong with my AC?

AC feels really cool (MAX output) inside the garage...but I think it might be a psychological mind thing since I just added refrigerant...
My result was about the same 4/5 psi, but it is a hell of an improvement so I only did one can. Before it was like only the fan was running now the air is nice n cool.
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      06-25-2011, 10:06 AM   #16
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Just a warning to those who want to try this. I just did mine and now the AC barely works at all. I followed the instructions to a T, used the exact same refridgerant, etc and instead of getting better my system somehow lost pressure while filling. The quick connect was definitely on right so I don't know what the hell happened. I noticed when I was shaking the can that my engine fan was spinning harder and harder and instead of the pressure on the gauge going up, it seemed to be going down. Now the only setting that is kind of cold is on 60 degrees and the engine fan sounds like an airplane or something when the compressor is engaged. FML

I just spent 50 dollars to break the AC.

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      06-26-2011, 10:47 AM   #17
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Yikes, mental note, don't do this unless absolutely necessary.
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If no codes are being thrown use Chevron Techron fuel injector cleaner (concentrate). It solves rpm fluctuating upon cold start-up. Also, for most BMW problems start off by scanning your car with the Peake Research Tool. It contains the actual BMW codes. If you want to register a newly installed battery for free (just buy a $10 cable) and google/download BMWLogger
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      06-26-2011, 11:34 PM   #18
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wow!, I've been looking on google to see if anybody had that happen; how much has the psi dropped? I'm going to call my old shop to see if they've ever seen this..
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      06-27-2011, 07:19 AM   #19
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Just curious, how much is your PSI after the charge? It has been a week now and I just took the car out for a weekend drive around 11 am to 2 pm and AC still working good. I will need to check my pressure again to see if it dropped (since the air is cold so the charge should be holding for me - fingers crossed).
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      06-27-2011, 08:54 AM   #20
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I think what happened was that even though the gauge I was looking at was reading low at the time, I actually went too high on the pressure. I hooked the gauge back up later on that day because I could hear the compressor trying to kick on but it kept turning right back off. Once I got the gauge on there, I saw that when the compressor kicked on for a second that the pressures were spiking to around 65-70 psi. Then when it kicked back off, it would drop to around 35 or so. Frustrated, and not wanting to break my compressor, I vented some of the pressure from the low port. (Yes, I know.. not the best thing to do, but I was desperate.) After venting, and checking the pressure again, I got the system working better, but still not as good as before. There are no more spikes in pressure, and the compressor stays on, and the air will get cool now, but it takes longer than before and the fan is still running a lot faster than it was before. When I get a chance I'm going to take it to a shop and have the system vacuumed and recharged by a pro.
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      06-28-2011, 02:55 AM   #21
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You could have overcharged. Recharging A/C with only low-side reading is like shooting in the dark. It's ok with the orifice tube system found in most domestic cars since the low-side pressure controls the compressor. The expansion valve systems in imports are trickier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by axis View Post
I vented some of the pressure from the low port. (Yes, I know.. not the best thing to do, but I was desperate.)
Don't feel too bad. R134a is the same chemical used in canned air and airsoft guns. It's not illegal to release if it's not released as a refrigerant.

Have your system evacuated and recharged is probably the best idea now. At least you should have the pressure on both sides checked.

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Originally Posted by axis View Post
I just spent 50 dollars to break the AC.

For $49.99 you could have bought an AC gauge set and charge it properly. The compressor is probably not broke. Most are protected by overpressure switch. The rest of the AC is just pipes.

Last edited by bufasion; 06-28-2011 at 03:24 AM.
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      06-28-2011, 05:46 AM   #22
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The problem with doing AC work is the availability of the tools you can get. Because the refrigerant is regulated, a private citizen can only buy small bottles of it at the auto parts store, which come with cheap-ass gauges and connectors.

Sears tool catalog sells a nice gauge set with a manifold for attaching the can. The gauge set reads both the HP and LP sides of the system. It's over $100.

By law all AC shops must recoupe and recycle the refrigerant, so they have expensive recovery automated machines that make changing refrigerant a piece of cake.
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