Andrew Pollack's Blog

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Lots of fun tomorrow - Its heavy car repair time

By Andrew Pollack on 08/16/2004 at 09:57 PM EDT

Well my 98 Durango with nearly 100k miles on it needs a bit of work. The good news, is the replacement of the part itself is about 15 minutes. The bad news, is that to get to the part needing replacement and then to put it all back its going to take pretty much all day. The air conditioning evaporator core needs to be replaced. Apparently, Dodge has a problem with these in that they don't drain the compartment well enough and they tend to rust out over time. So, tomorrow the driver's seat, dashboard, and steering column have to get disconnected and removed or dropped out of the way so the part can be replaced.

The dealer wants $800 for this job plus the two days I'll need to rent alternate transportation. NAPA has the part for $150 and cans of r134a refrigerant are about $4.00 a piece for 13oz. (I'll need 2.8 pounds). r134a has a 96% lower impact on global warming based on its breaking down into CO2 and other greenhouse gasses (compared to the old r12 -- we all used prior to 1994) so I'm much less concerned about the danger of any in the system at present. The MSDS data sheets on r134a show it to be fairly safe stuff actually, the biggest hazard in a large release is that it displaces oxygen and tends to be heavier than air so a massive spill could be dangerous.

The current evaporator core leaks terribly and won't hold a charge for more than a few hours anyway, so I'm quite sure there isn't much in the system. I'll remove the schrader valve (valve stem like on a tire) from the low pressure side to be sure, but the gauge already reads zero pressure. The evaporator core is by definition on the low pressure side of the system. The new unit is sealed from the factory to avoid contaminants and I'll blow a little bit of refrigerant into it before final installation to displace any plain old air. Any way, while I've got the whole dashboard pulled apart, I'll probably wire in a power circuit to the top of the dashboard for the red light so I don't have to plug it into the lighter socket and leave a cord dangling. I'll also wire a mic input line to the steering column so I can mount a directional mic there and make my own hands free cell phone system.

Looking forward to all this work.....not.

-- AP

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Time to break out the leatherman ;-)By Richard Schwartz on 08/17/2004 at 10:27 AM EDT

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