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Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer
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#5744 of 6400 '96 Air Conditioning
Mar 20, 2007 (10:22 am)
I spent $680 18 months ago to have the AC fixed in my 1996 Ford Explorer. Now that the warranty on that service has expired it has stopped working again. They replaced the accumulator and seals and some new refrigerant.
Could it need more refrigerant again? Is that something that has to be done by a shop or can I do it at home? I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for something I can do myself. I didn't have any hose work done last time so maybe I need to have the hoses replaced now.
#5745 of 6400 Re: '96 Air Conditioning [kenimator]
Mar 20, 2007 (7:00 pm)
Sorry for your troubles.
If you took the time to learn about A/C, you could have done that work for about $100.00 and it would probably still be working now. You can do the work at home if you learn to do it SAFELY and CORRECTLY, and it's not that hard. First, you need to be mechanically inclined, you need to have a basic knowledge of how cars and mechanical things work and know how to use tools. I would not recommend you try to do A/C, unless you have sucessfully done things like replace alternators, water pumps, radiators, brakes, ball joints, electrical diagnosis, etc. Next, get on the internet and Google Auto Air Conditioning Repair, and get yourself a very good book about repairing auto a/c and learn all about it FIRST. Then get your BASIC tools, Dial temperature gauge with probe - about $10 (looks like a meat thermometer, reads from about 0 degrees F to about 220 degrees f) stick it in you dash vent to read Vent Temps, a manifold guage set with hoses and push on connectors - $100 or less to read system pressures, a good vaccuum pump - about $200-$250 to evacuate the system be fore you charge it, an electronic leak detector - about $200 to find leaks, then some special tools for whatever car you may be working on, like Spring Lock disconnect tools, an infrared thermometer is helpful but not necessary. Google Auto Air Conditioning Tools.
You can buy that Explorer Accumulator for about $50 - $60, the seals usually are cheap, depending on what kind and where, the 134a refrigerant is going for about $8 a can (2 or 3 cans will fill most cars).
Using the guages will tell you if you need refrigerant, and what the problem might be. If Refrigerant is low, you have a leak, and you use the leak detector to find the leak, and when you find it, you repair it, and replace the leaking part, either it's a hose, connection or a part. If you have to "open" the system to replace a part, and the system still has gas in it, you will need to take it to a garage so they can "recover" the refrigerant out of the system. It is illegal to intentionally discharge the refrigerant into the atmosphere. The pressures in the system will vary some according to the outside "ambient" temperature. The low side pressure should run between 20 to 35 pounds, the closer to 20, the colder the "Vent" Temperature will be. The high side pressure should run about 200 to 240, again depending on the ambient temperature. Rule of thumb Guideline for High side pressure is at idle it should be about 2.3 to 2.5 times the ambient temperature, and at fast idle it should be about 2.6 times the ambient temperature.
Example: Outside temp is 95 degrees, at idle low side should be about 25-30, high side should be about 220-238. At fast idle low side should be about 25-30, high side should be about 245-247. If the high side is low, you are probably low on refrigerant. Charge slowly to get the high side to the correct pressure, but be sure NOT to over charge. It is better to have a little less pressure in the system, than too have to much. Too much pressure will desrease cooling and quickly wear out the compressor.
If the low side is high and the high side is low, you probably have a weak compressor. If the low side goes very low, even into a vaccuum, and the high side is normal to a little low, you probably have a restiction at the orifice tube or expansion valve.
Hope that helps to get you started.
#5746 of 6400 Re: '96 Air Conditioning [electricdesign]
Mar 22, 2007 (8:11 pm)
Thanks for the detailed information. I'm mechanically inclined and willing to learn, but am not very experienced. From your estimates I'd have to spend at least $300 just to have the proper tools to diagnose the problem. I'm not sure I'm up for that, but if I do it I have a couple more questions.
Does replacing a hose constitute "opening" the system? If I get to that point I suppose I'd have the garage open it rather than spend $250 on a vacuum pump.
Is there a recommended brand/model of leak detector or are they pretty standard?
#5747 of 6400 2000 mountaineer outside door handle linkage
Mar 23, 2007 (5:25 am)
I have replaced the outside drivers side door handle on my 2000 mountaineer, I am having trouble connecting the linkage to the door on the inside. I have no problem with the door panel I just can't get the linkage connected.
#5748 of 6400 Re: '96 Air Conditioning [kenimator]
Mar 24, 2007 (9:04 pm)
Tools are an INVESTMENT. First you have to decide if you want to do that type of work, and if you will continue to do it. You would NOT spend $500 for tools to do ONE job. It depends on what you want to do in the future. As an example in my case, I've always had lots of cars to work on, my cars, my wife's cars and my daughters car's, so I am always using all kinds of tools. I probably use my AC gauges 2 or 3 times a year, adding or checking refrigerant and do AC repair work maybe once a year or less. But the tools ARE very handy, they are there right when you need them. I have a large 2 car garage/workshop with over $10,000 in tools that I have accumulated over my lifetime, welders, hydraulic presses, floor jacks, stands, tons of hand tools, big rolling chests, and lots of specialized tools for AC, Electrical, Transmissions, Front Ends, Suspension, etc. Like I said, it's an investment. And when I die, I am quite sure that someone will put them to good use.
Yes, replacing a hose is definetly opening the system. Anything that you do that allows refrigerant to escape to the atmosphere is "opening" the system. AC work can get very expensive. I have done a complete "AC Front End Replacements" where the parts and materials cost almost $1000. You can spend $1500 for a complete "AC Front end Replacement" which includes replacing everything under the hood. I had to do this on each of my early Explorers (91 & 93) because of Fords sorry compressors that suffered from "Black Death". My newer Ford Explorer compressors (97 & 2000) are holding up fine so far.
Recommended Brands - As I said before, the best and cheapest way to find the tool you need is do a Google Search for them, type in "Automotive Air Conditioning" or "Air conditioning tools". You will find a wealth of good information. Their are two big Automotive AC sites, and you will find them with Google, and they have everything that you need at the right price. Buy a good Automotive AC repair manual first, that will help you decide what tools to get and what you think you can do. The AC manuals are it the same sites as the tools, and also lot of other sites. The best leak detector is an electronic leak detector. You can also buy that fluorescent dye that you put in the system, but it usually takes a long time to find the leak that way. My Leak Detector is a TIF 5050A, I paid about $200 for it in 1999.
#5749 of 6400 Re: O/D light flashing [bsinkbeil]
Mar 26, 2007 (12:04 am)
I am looking for a diff for my ford explorer 2000 XLT. Where did you get your diff from?
#5751 of 6400 Re: '93 suddenly wont start [70ss454_man]
Mar 26, 2007 (2:00 pm)
I got fed up with the no starting, so I finally broke down and went to the dealer. They said that the main "brain" was showing no activity at all. So they flashed it for me, and after that it started no problem. Strange thing, but glad all is better!
#5752 of 6400 Re: '99 Explorer trouble accelerating in heat! [steph4591]
Mar 27, 2007 (12:00 pm)
I have experienced the same exact problem with my 98 Explorer and it only happens during hot weather (if I use the air-conditioner ... I'm asking for trouble). After its turned off for 30 minutes or so ... I try to start up and it will barely idle. It quits if I try to put it in gear. If I just shut off car and sit for awhile (or try to keep it idling, turn off, then it usually starts up fine (it seems as if something is stuck and then it opens up)?! I asked my former "Ford mechanic" friend ... he said it has nothing to do with the airconditioning and it could be one of six different things which didn't do me any good. Since I don't want to put any money into the thing I keep driving it, when thr problem occurs I just deal with it. I sure don't feel like going to Ford Dealer and have them fix 6 different things and then have it still not work. It might happen 4 times a year and its been doing it for about 3 years now and hasn't left me stranded anywhere. Everytime I get tempted to take it in I remember how frustrating it is to take it to dealer for repair and I don't do it. If you figure this one out let me know!!
#5753 of 6400 Re: 2001 explorer starting problems [chadp1]
Mar 27, 2007 (12:20 pm)
I have similar problems with my 98 Explorer and its been doing it maybe 3 times a year (for the past 2-3 years). It hasn't progressed by getting any worse. It normally happens when outside temp is very hot. If I let it sit after attempting to start it (won't idle, I have to keep it reved up for awhile, then turn off, let it sit). It usually starts about 5 minutes later - as if nothing happened?! I get home and then it doesn't do it for months which keeps me from the repair station. They usually find 50 other things to repair that I don't want. I figure you experienced no start at all and its a different problem.