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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Its taken just on a year since re-gassing for air con gas pressure to drop sufficiently to stop the system working. Compressor still spins up so there is still some gas in the system. I'd had the car around two years before the re-gas so it looks as if there is a small leak on its way to being a bigger one. Car is 4.0 HSE model year 2000 with 84,000 (ish) on the clock. Far as I can see all air con components are original, the front heat exchanger looks rather sad but no obvious damage or heavy corrosion. Low mileage user, this old fart doesn't go out much, around 3,000 miles a year which should I think still be enough to keep things moving around.

Way I see it there are three fixing options:-

a) Book it into the repair shop, Halfords look best option for me, for diagnostics and subsequent re-gassing after replacement of leaking component. Assuming they can find the leak.

b) After repair shop diagnosis replace faulty part myself and go back for re-gassing.

c) Get it de-gassed which I can get done round the corner. Pray that its not the compressor or inside evaporator thats the problem and replace all the old underbonnet stuff i.e. heat exchanger, pipes and drier as they are all getting old together so probably close to end of life. Take it back to the repair shop for vacuum check and re-gassing. Not much extra work compared to changing one thing and extra money on parts pretty much balanced by savings in labour if repair shop just fixes one thing.

Whatever I do if its the compressor or inside evaporator its gonna hurt! A lot.

Option a) means two lots of 12 mile return trips and hanging around on an industrial estate for the afternoon. But I get a warranty for work and parts.

Option b) saves me a bit of money and not quite so long hanging around compared to a) but I have to find time to do the work and no warranty at the end. Doesn't look good.

Option c) is only one lot of hanging around and nets lots of nice new parts so hopefully I don't need to worry for several years. Also accords with my preferred way of working which is to change out old stuff in one hit rather than peicemeal as each part breaks.

What does the team think.

Clive
 
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assuming in the Uk there are specialised Airco services as well..... why would you let Halfords touch your car instead?

depending on your time, and technical talents... B would be an option for A... C is not an option in my book, you don't replace a whole system to be allmost sure you will have the faulty part swapped as well.... so first check where the leakage is to be found, then renew that part (or have it done)
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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I'm sure you used to be able to buy leak dye detection kits for a/c. you just inject it into low pressure port run the system for a day or 2 then check with some glasses and an ultra violet lamp in the kit, the dye shows up as Yellow and this will be where your leak is.

Sometime on older systems even your mileage might not be enough to keep the seals soft and prevent a leak. I would say that if it has taken a year to leak out out its more likely a seal than a hole or split in a core or pipe.

I wouldn't be worried about having an ac company finding a leak for you and then you repairing it and going back, they will just be glad of any business with the current climate, might work out cheaper than a UV kit as well
 

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Banned
1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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Most places put the leak detection dye in anyway when they regas. Then they just need to shine a UV light on it. Mine had leaks, thatcould be seen under UV but not with the naked eye, on the crimp joint on one of the hoses that comes off the compressor and from the bottom corner of the condenser.
 

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2013-2015 Range Rover Evoque
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339 Posts
Do you see an oily residue around any of the fittings? The leak could be due to bad seals. Regardless the system's Freon will have to be evacuated to replace the seals.
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Cheers. Thanks for the advice, more food for thought. I can't see any oily residues anywhere and, unfortunately don't have access to a UV lamp to check if there is any leak evidence should Halfords have left the testing stuff in when re-gassing last time. Everything just looks old under the bonnet which is why changing everything is attractive to avoid the "chasing a new fault every year or two syndrome" as components successively age out.

Its a major pest not having an air con specialist within easy get home distance. A couple of local places with the machine so basic gas extraction and re-gas is possible but not really up for detail fault finding and proper evaluation of how much life is left in the "still good right now but getting old" parts.

Main thing in Halfords favour is that they have got up-to-date gear and staff training along with big company warranty support.

Clive
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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3,952 Posts
No, it's still usually known as Halfrauds over here and is an absolute last resort before giving up. If my local branch is anything to go by, they are just about capable of fitting a wiper blade but would far rather sell you a new head unit and sub woofer so you can make your ears bleed with your banging choons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My experience of Halfords service centres is that they seem to be rather better than the shops. At least until the new wears off. The Tunbrige Wells one hadn't been up and running all that long when I put the P38 in to have the air conditioning looked at last year. Very much a desperation choice as being well familiar with Halfords shop reputation. Pleasantly surprised as it was clean, decently equipped, organised and the guys clearly knew their stuff. As always its the chap doing the work that matters.

Shops are a different matter. Handy when they have abargain deal on something, like £100 off my last GPS, but try asking them something difficult like what anti-freeze for a P38. Three different answers depending on which info system you use.

Clive
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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Faced with the same dilemma, I decided to invest in a set of gauges and a vacuum pump so I could check out my system properly. I pull a vacuum and leave it overnight to make sure it is tight. I decided not to regas it myself. It is not economically viable. The last 2 occasions I have taken it into Quickfit for a regas and got a 12 month guarantee on it. One of the schraeder valves leaked but I got a free regas after 10 months.

From my experience with my 2000 DSE, the condensor is the biggest culprit for leaks. I went through about 4 until I got an OEM one.
 
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I drive into the village, about 5km from here, drop it at the Airco specialist, have it tested and if nothing that takes long repaired, if the repair will take over an hour, i do that myself and return the car afterwards for testing and refill..

last time I had taken the coolerblock out for the engine change and after that was ready, I fitted the new dryer myself and brougt the car for testing and refill.... including the dryer less than 150 euro
 

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I have a similar problem with getting a new to me P38 and having no gas in the air con.
I have called a specialist aircon friend, He added leak detect and regassed system. I will look for a UV globe at the nearest electrical wholesalser if the gas leak out in the near future.
Dave the aircon man also mentioned that it takes high pressure to seal some of the O rings so when the pressure goes low the systems will lose more gas.
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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Ian, you need the special UV torch to detect a leak. It is made for the job. They sell them on Ebay,similar to this one:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AIR-CON-U...=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item33943ac335

Make sure you also get some yellow safety glasses as well, the beam can damage your eyesight.

I am not an expert on aircon but I have read about pressurising the system with Nitrogen after pulling a vacuum to ensure it is tight. I did think about sorting out some fittings as I have a Nitrogen cylinder and regulator for welding. However when I pulled a vacuum on mine, it held.

In the UK, the penalties can be high if you deliberately let the R134a freon go to atmosphere and the authorities find out.
 

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LEGACY VENDOR
1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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The leak detector dye in my system was visible to the naked eye where it was dribbling out down the side of the compressor...

Found that the compressor was duff, so had gas recovered... replaced compressor with a known good one, but forgot to replace the O-rings, just re-lubed the old ones with a bit of compressor oil and job done....

Took it back to the aircon guy near me, he hooked it up to vacuum for awhile, seemed ok... did nitrogen test as nitrogen will apparently find even the tiniest leak to escape out of... all fine..

recharged with gas/oil + dye... ice cold air :)

For 2 weeks... get out one time and hear 'bubbling' - open bonnet and see leak detector dye dribbling down the side of the compressor... a few choice words were said and since then I haven't had the chance to get the rest of the gas removed and then replace the O-rings..

however, I now have a set of O-rings to go in there, and I figured I would treat it to a new receiver/drier (and associated O-rings too) when I do get the gas removed as I think the current drier is original....

I'd even ticked the aircon off my list of things to sort out too :( then had to put it back on the list...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Best laid plans of mice and men. Actual fix strategy was so far out of left field that it didn't even rate an option!

Rolling back home after doing the weekly shop this morning in a moderate state of annoyance from being made half an hour late for dinner by a chatty acquaintance on the "see twice a year (if unlucky)" list I saw the guy across the road and two doors up having his air con system attended to by a mobile service. Parked up a bit sharpish and ambled across to see if the young lady doing the job was willing to come and check my air con out when she had finished his. Turned out she had time so dinner was really, really late but hey what's a bit of hunger and chatty acquaintance ear ache compared to a working air conditioning system.

Gotta revise my opinion of Halfords as pretty much first question after connecting the gauges and discovering the was still gas in the system but not quite enough was "Who did it last year?" "Halfords." "Thought so. Bunch of shysters. Never put enough gas in, especially not on a big system like this."

Apparently the P38 takes nearly twice as much gas as most other vehicles and you have to run it up with the bottle still connected to fill it properly. Mine took around 350 grams more once the compressor was running. Which apparently is pretty typical. She reckoned that Halfords have a machine that does pretty much all the work of testing and filling whilst the operator catches up with coffee, smokes and Page 3. I say nothing wrong with a machine if it does things proper like but apparently it doesn't. You'd be lucky to get more than 800 or so grams into a P38 that way so it might work for a couple or three thousand miles. As mine did. Also Halfords clearly didn't leak test it as they were asked to, no dye in the system. I shan't be going back service but should I be their way in the near future I might drop in and express my dis-satisfaction. I'm far too old to tolerate the all mouth and no trousers types.

My little something for the weekend tho' is to find out why the elecric fans didn't spin up as they should once the system is significantly above normal running pressure. Apparently if the fans don't spin up in stationary or slow moving traffic the pressure may get high enough to hurt the condenser.

For anyone else in my neck of the woods National Air-Con based at East Grinstead are the firm. Part of a franchise outfit so its all down to how good your guy or gal is. http://www.AirconSouthEast.co.uk

Thanks for the help and suggestions.

Clive
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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When I had mine re-gassed after replacing the bits with leaks, they used a similar machine. The guy setting it up actually commented on the amount of gas it took. There should be a label on the slam panel and it's something like 1250 grammes. Most cars use around 800 and the machine defaulted to that so he had to tell the machine how much to put in. Then he switched it on and left it to do its thing. Much the same as it sounds like Halfords do except they don't bother looking at the sticker to see how much they need to put in and just leave it at the default.

The only time I've ever known my fans to come on was idling after a 800 mile blast through France in 38 degree heat and the AC on flat out.
 
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if I remember correctly, mine (DSE) has gotten 1100 grammes R134a when I got it refilled after the engine swap...

The machine is never better than the person operating it... The technical info on the P38 surely will say there needs to be more than 800 grammes in it, so if they don't tell the machine there needs to be more putten in, the machine won't put in more than the (probably standard set) 800 grammes...

regarding the pressure damaging your condensor..if the fans don't work, and pressure gets (too) high, i assume there is a pressureswitch which switches off the compressor to prevent the pressure getting higher than that the system was designed for
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Sticker on mine says 1340 grams. No wonder it didn't care for default 800 grams. Young lady who did mine also reckoned that about 800 grams was what was put in. I shall definitely be having words and if that was all that Mr Halfords did put in they had darned well better be sending some money back my way!

Checked out fan operation with a jumper lead as recommended in other posts. They spin up fine so, given the general skeptism as to whether they ever come on in normal use I figure all is good to go.

Clive
 

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LEGACY VENDOR
1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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The Thor ones take a little bit more then the GEMS ones and a lot more than the diesel...

RAVE says:
1380 +/- 25 grammes for 99MY on
1250 grammes for 1994-1999
1100 grammes for diesel

Also states the quantities of lubricating oil aswell:
180cm3 from 99MY on
150cm3 up to 1999 MY
140cm3 for all Diesel

When I took mine to be done, the guy doing it was also surprised at how big the system was... he said most smaller cars he does are around the 600-800gramme mark, so the RR system was pretty much double what he's used to... He also had to set the machine to pump in the increased weight of refrigerant.

Definitely sounds like the Halfords guys just put in what they usually do, without actually looking at the slam panel for the actual figures!
 

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Can't comment on other models of RR but the P38 has a high pressure relief valve in line near the condenser just in case the pressure gets too high. Other more modern systems have a relief valve on the back of the pump.
Once the valves have blown and dumped the pressure (R134 in the atmosphere???) they will reset and the system will be sealed again.
My A/C fans run as soon as the air con is turned on and i'm standing still, can't tell if they turn off on the road but would think the airflow would mean that they are not needed.
 
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