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ac gauges?

 
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Old 03 Jul 2011, 11:47 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 59
Default ac gauges?

Does anyone know how accurate those gauges are that auto part stores sell with the cans of free-on. I had mine checked last year it was fine. This year ac was not working to great went to charge it myself and the gauge said it was in the danger zonw without even puting any im?
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Old 07 Jul 2011, 01:16 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 199
Default Re: ac gauges?

I assume you're talking about the green/yellow/red (good/low/high) gauges, yeah? They are generally functional, but not good. The problem with "repairing" AC using a gauge that only measures from the low pressure side of the system is that it doesn't tell you the whole story, and is only generally (not specifically) applicable to every vehicle.

Each vehicle has specific characteristics, and while R134a has certain performance criteria, what's *perfect* on one vehicle is probably not perfect on another. Additionally, what you see on the low side is only half the story, since you can't see what pressures look like on the high side, and it's the high side that is actually indicative of what's coming out of the vents.

To better deal with AC you need a full set of manifold gauges and a good thermometer. Those are cheap tools that, when used right, will significantly help you do the job - certainly under $100. If you've got a couple post 1996 vehicles they'll pay for themselves within a couple years.

If you're seeing high pressure ("danger") on the low side, it probably means the compressor isn't running. Be sure the AC is on full blast (recirc off, fan on full speed, ac on) with the windows down on a warm day. If you've got all this and are still seeing high pressure on the low side, it *probably* means the compressor isn't doing its job. This is where a real set of gauges becomes useful - without seeing what the high pressure side looks like, it's impossible to make a further diagnosis.
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