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Old 01-28-2012, 05:52 PM   #1
josephi
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Recharging AC refrigerant with Arctic Freeze product

The other day I noticed that the two AC vents on the passenger side of my '02 330i seemed to be blowing slightly warmer air than the driver's side vents. I know that this is one possible symptom of low AC refrigerant, so I bought a can of Arctic Freeze Ultra Synthetic R134a (the blue can) with the built in pressure gauge.

I watched some of the videos on YouTube and read the directions on the can, started the car and let it run with the AC set to 59 F and the fan on high, then attached the valve to the low pressure port. According to the directions, the correct pressure at my ambient temperature of 75 F should be between 35-45 psi, but I was showing just about 30 psi, so I tried to fill it. I squeezed the trigger on the can for maybe 30 seconds, and the gauge slowly went up to about 35 psi, but then went back down to 30 psi when I released the trigger. I squeezed it for about another 20-30 seconds, but it wouldn't move, so I decided to stop. The can was getting cold, so I knew that some refrigerant was being dispensed, but I didn't know how much. I checked the AC inside the cabin and it was blowing very cold air out of all vents, so I figured I should just monitor it for now and recheck the pressure later to see if there is a leak.

I was wondering if anyone out there knows what the correct pressure for our cars should be. Also, if you have used this Arctic Freeze product, were you able to get a higher pressure than 30 psi, and how long did it take? Nearly a minute of filling the system with just about no increase in the pressure showing on the gauge made me feel a little uncomfortable because I have heard that overfilling the system can damage it, and I spent about $2800 two years ago to replace a leaking AC evaporator inside the dash.

Any help or comments are appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 01-28-2012, 07:57 PM   #2
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I couldn't read past the first sentence. No.

Not worth saving $50 on a system that costs thousands. Youtube is good for some things, but unless you have a real machine for AC work, don't risk it. Just coz you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Let a real mechanic, with know how and proper machine do whatever you need.

Oh, F, scanned a little further...you did it.

The correct pressure isn't given...it's given in lbs. of 134a. Mine is, iirc, 1.86 plus or minus .05 lbs. Evacuate and add the amount in weight...with an expensive machine for $50-75

Seriously. over or underpressure does put that system of yours at risk. Sorry.

Oh, I'm not a mechanic, but not making this up either.

Youtube, a can, doesn't replace what a good shop with good mechanic can bring to the table. You should study harder and when you start seeing negative stuff mentioned, look into it harder.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:00 PM   #3
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Excuse me, but your hypothisis is not correct. There is no reason that vents on one side of the car would blow warmer or cooler than on the other side. Well, there are lots of reasons, but the amount of refridgerant is not among them.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
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Excuse me, but your hypothisis is not correct. There is no reason that vents on one side of the car would blow warmer or cooler than on the other side. Well, there are lots of reasons, but the amount of refridgerant is not among them.
Actually, you are wrong. Many, many, many BMW owners have had issues with vents blowing warmer than others when their refrigerant is low. It is well documented and I have seen it many times.

OP, the issue with what you did is two fold. 1. The can mounted gauges are notoriously inaccurate. 2. That arctic stuff usually has "stop leak" in it and that stuff should NEVER be put in your system. It causes more problems than it fixes.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:31 PM   #5
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It is illogical that the level of the refridgerant will affect one side of the car, but not the other. There is only one evaporator, and all of the air passes over it. But, what do I know? Warm air is surely one of the indicators of low refridgerant.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:46 PM   #6
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It is illogical that the level of the refridgerant will affect one side of the car, but not the other. There is only one evaporator, and all of the air passes over it. But, what do I know? Warm air is surely one of the indicators of low refridgerant.
Illogical or not, it happens. And it happens EVERY summer to people on these forums and my customers. I know how many evaporators their are, I install them all the time.

Also, the OP proved it. He added refrigerant, and now all the vents blow cold.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:48 PM   #7
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I couldn't read past the first sentence. No.

Not worth saving $50 on a system that costs thousands. Youtube is good for some things, but unless you have a real machine for AC work, don't risk it. Just coz you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Let a real mechanic, with know how and proper machine do whatever you need.

Oh, F, scanned a little further...you did it.

The correct pressure isn't given...it's given in lbs. of 134a. Mine is, iirc, 1.86 plus or minus .05 lbs. Evacuate and add the amount in weight...with an expensive machine for $50-75

Seriously. over or underpressure does put that system of yours at risk. Sorry.

Oh, I'm not a mechanic, but not making this up either.

Youtube, a can, doesn't replace what a good shop with good mechanic can bring to the table. You should study harder and when you start seeing negative stuff mentioned, look into it harder.
I understand the risks involved with using these off the shelf AC recharge products, and up to now have never considered them. But I just paid $1600 to have my driveshaft replaced right before noticing this problem with the AC, so that probably clouded my judgement. Seems, though, that a lot of folks have used this product without any problems, so I was willing to take a chance on it. I hope it doesn't turn into one of those "penny wise, pound foolish" moments for me. Thanks.
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:04 PM   #8
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Excuse me, but your hypothisis is not correct. There is no reason that vents on one side of the car would blow warmer or cooler than on the other side. Well, there are lots of reasons, but the amount of refridgerant is not among them.
I understand what you're saying, and that did seem strange to me too, but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence out there to suggest that when the refrigerant level gets low, the AC system can somehow direct most of the cooler air to the driver's side vents. Perhaps something with the ducts? IDK. The air blowing out of my passenger vents was definitely warmer than the driver's side, so something seemed to be happening. Both are very cold now, so I hope my problem is solved. Thanks.
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:12 PM   #9
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Actually, you are wrong. Many, many, many BMW owners have had issues with vents blowing warmer than others when their refrigerant is low. It is well documented and I have seen it many times.

OP, the issue with what you did is two fold. 1. The can mounted gauges are notoriously inaccurate. 2. That arctic stuff usually has "stop leak" in it and that stuff should NEVER be put in your system. It causes more problems than it fixes.
Yeah, I had to wonder about the accuracy of a gauge attached to a can, but I guess I figured that with a 10 psi range (according to the instructions) I might be safe if I stayed on the low side. Maybe seeing "NASA" on the label also clouded my judgement. Hey, if they developed it for the space program, it MUST work for my little car here on Earth. Anyway, I'll monitor the AC, and if the problem reoccurs, I'll probably dump the can and take it to the experts. Thanks.
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:16 PM   #10
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Yeah, I had to wonder about the accuracy of a gauge attached to a can, but I guess I figured that with a 10 psi range (according to the instructions) I might be safe if I stayed on the low side. Maybe seeing "NASA" on the label also clouded my judgement. Hey, if they developed it for the space program, it MUST work for my little car here on Earth. Anyway, I'll monitor the AC, and if the problem reoccurs, I'll probably dump the can and take it to the experts. Thanks.
Totally off subject, where do you live that you are running the A/C in winter? Australia?
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:39 PM   #11
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smoick, every time you turn your defroster on you are running the A/C. And there is no reason not to run the A/C in the winter with the temperature knob set for 68 to 72 degrees, you will get the heat, and at the same time pull moisture out of the air within the cabin, like wet snow, faster than with just the heat on, besides the added benefit of keeping the A/C Compressor Clutch Seals lubricated. They are usually the main source of leaks, as they rely on the refrigerants oil to keep them soft and sealing.
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:26 PM   #12
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Totally off subject, where do you live that you are running the A/C in winter? Australia?
Hawaii. It was 80 today. BTW, what's "winter?"
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:01 PM   #13
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Unhappy Don't believe instructions on the can!!!

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Originally Posted by josephi View Post
The other day I noticed that the two AC vents on the passenger side of my '02 330i seemed to be blowing slightly warmer air than the driver's side vents. I know that this is one possible symptom of low AC refrigerant, so I bought a can of Arctic Freeze Ultra Synthetic R134a (the blue can) with the built in pressure gauge.

I watched some of the videos on YouTube and read the directions on the can, started the car and let it run with the AC set to 59 F and the fan on high, then attached the valve to the low pressure port. According to the directions, the correct pressure at my ambient temperature of 75 F should be between 35-45 psi, but I was showing just about 30 psi, so I tried to fill it. I squeezed the trigger on the can for maybe 30 seconds, and the gauge slowly went up to about 35 psi, but then went back down to 30 psi when I released the trigger. I squeezed it for about another 20-30 seconds, but it wouldn't move, so I decided to stop. The can was getting cold, so I knew that some refrigerant was being dispensed, but I didn't know how much. I checked the AC inside the cabin and it was blowing very cold air out of all vents, so I figured I should just monitor it for now and recheck the pressure later to see if there is a leak.

I was wondering if anyone out there knows what the correct pressure for our cars should be. Also, if you have used this Arctic Freeze product, were you able to get a higher pressure than 30 psi, and how long did it take? Nearly a minute of filling the system with just about no increase in the pressure showing on the gauge made me feel a little uncomfortable because I have heard that overfilling the system can damage it, and I spent about $2800 two years ago to replace a leaking AC evaporator inside the dash.

Any help or comments are appreciated. Thanks!
I had the exact issue. Even used the same freon. According to the instructions with an ambient temp of 85, low side pressure should be 50. Starting pressure was 30, after the whole can was emptied, pressure stayed at 30. Although the cabin temp was now ice cold from all vents! Me being the OCD dumba$$ that I am, determined that if the instructions said I need 50 lbs, then by gosh, I'll add another can. Put most of the 2nd can in and my compressor started cycling - a lot, I think it was the high pressure switch shutting off the compressor; pressure shot up to over 100 lbs when the compressor cycled off, back down to 30 when on. Oh SH1T! I let this run only for about 2 minutes then turned off the engine. Let it cool for a bit, then purged some of the apparent excess. The pressure at the low pressure fitting was 90 with the engine off. I let out gas until it dropped to 40. Restarted the engine, let it run with the A/C on full blast for 30 mins or so, pressure stayed at 30, never moved even when the compressor cycled on and off. Close call - I almost cost myself some $$$$.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:02 PM   #14
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May have blown my blower? After adding too much R134a and then purging some, everything ran just fine, last night and this am.
Drove an hour in 90 heat, A/C worked perfectly.
Came back out from an appt about an hour later, started er up and no blower.
Won't blow set to A/C or heat.
Checked fuses and all looked good.
I may replace them anyway just in case.
Any ideas? I don't much believe in coincendences, thinking I screwed up something.

Thanks!
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:10 PM   #15
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DIY w/ cans/lack of expensive/proper equipment + training + proper disposal methods is ghetto. Further, purging the system is irresponsible and illegal.

Take it to a reputable tech and have it done properly once every two years.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:14 PM   #16
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You need to dry the system too. There's lots that must be done for it to be done right. You can get the proper parts fairly easily and probably from a pawn shop for fairly cheap actually. You basically will need a can of refrigerant, A/C gauges, a vacuum pump, the right levels the A/C should be at for the E46, and you must be very careful to not let any of the refrigerant escape as it is harmful to the atmosphere. It's really not worth the hassle considering the cost is only about $100 max, and you only need it done if your A/C isn't working, which takes a long, long time unless you already have a leak. Just go to any cheapo auto chain and have it done. They've all got basically automated systems to do it. It's pretty hard for them to screw it up since all car A/C systems are essentially the same to recharge. This is probably the one thing you can go to Jiffy Lube to do.

Every 2 years for A/C is beyond overkill, especially for something that isn't even remotely critical. Just do it when it's not working the way it supposed to, such as right now.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:25 PM   #17
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You need to dry the system too. There's lots that must be done for it to be done right. You can get the proper parts fairly easily and probably from a pawn shop for fairly cheap actually. You basically will need a can of refrigerant, A/C gauges, a vacuum pump, the right levels the A/C should be at for the E46, and you must be very careful to not let any of the refrigerant escape as it is harmful to the atmosphere. It's really not worth the hassle considering the cost is only about $100 max, and you only need it done if your A/C isn't working, which takes a long, long time unless you already have a leak. Just go to any cheapo auto chain and have it done. They've all got basically automated systems to do it. It's pretty hard for them to screw it up since all car A/C systems are essentially the same to recharge. This is probably the one thing you can go to Jiffy Lube to do.

Every 2 years for A/C is beyond overkill, especially for something that isn't even remotely critical. Just do it when it's not working the way it supposed to, such as right now.
Just a few months ago you were PMing me asking for help on easy first-timer DIYer tasks. Not sure you're qualified to be shooting my advice down or giving any advice of your own, quite frankly.

Every two years is cheap insurance for a several-thousand dollar system and recommended by professionals. Stop giving out your cheapskate advice. Kia dealership awaits you
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:40 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by johnnygto View Post
May have blown my blower? After adding too much R134a and then purging some, everything ran just fine, last night and this am.
Drove an hour in 90 heat, A/C worked perfectly.
Came back out from an appt about an hour later, started er up and no blower.
Won't blow set to A/C or heat.
Checked fuses and all looked good.
I may replace them anyway just in case.
Any ideas? I don't much believe in coincendences, thinking I screwed up something.

Thanks!
From what I remember the compressor has a fail-safe, whereby it does not engage if the system pressure is too high/low.

That said, the fact that your blower doesn't work leads me to believe that you have a faulty FSR (final stage resistor), or some other issue lurking behind, but not the compressor.

Also, system pressure with the engine off and AC system disengaged is a tottaly different reading. For me, it has always been more than double the PSI as opposed to with the AC on.

For what its worth, the 10+ year old cars which have slowly lost cooling capacity of their AC system I don't feel terrible about using a top-up can of R134a. It takes some common sense, which I understand a lot of people probably don't have. If the problem persists though, you have a leak and need professional diagnosis/repair.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:53 PM   #19
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I appreciate the advice, and the entertainment
However, what do you think about the blower?
Is there any way the adding R134a could affect the blower?
If was working just fine and then stopped. Sounds like a fuse.
I would expect some other / early symptoms if the blower or last stage relay was going bad.

Thank you!
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:01 PM   #20
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Recharging AC refrigerant with Arctic Freeze product

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Is there any way the adding R134a could affect the blower?
No


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