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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
TLDR -

Context - 2013 LE, located in Central FL
Background - Blows lukewarm air in Driver Side, and Rear AC. Passenger cold. (lukewarm out of cabin filter slot though)
1. DIY Refrigerant added, says it's in the green
2. Blend Actuators appear to be working correctly
3. Condenser doesn't seem too clogged (see photo)
4. Gauges read as follow (see pic)

I've never any AC stuff so this is all new to me - after googling, (which mostly brought me here) I checked the blender motor on the driver and then passenger side. I visually verified the gears were lining up and turning the link correctly. I even disconnected it on the driver side and manually pulled the link myself, and while the temperature did change, it was still lukewarm on the cold setting. (But to me, this means the blend door motors that I checked were working correctly)

I've heard though there might be another blend door that is shared somewhere else, but I'm not sure.

At 80 degree, if I'm reading these gauges correctly (and I'm not sure I am) -I am 5-10 psi LOW on the LOW pressure side, and about the same on the High Pressure side. So if it is low, it's not THAT low. (which explains why the DIY refridge can read green.) Maybe it's a simple as having some moisture in the lines and needed to evac the system and recharge it - but I've never done that and the auto parts stores didn't have the kit to do it. (Sorry to anyone in Central FL, this kit I used broke, you can see the high side valve knob cracked, so I can't use that one to recharge the system)

I visually saw the compressor working and it definitely is compressing SOME refrigerant because the passenger side IS cold. But I noticed this ; If I turn the heat on the passenger side, it SEEMS like it gets a bit colder on the driver side. It's not a clear cut thing but I'm open to suggestions.


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It is hard to tell with the shade in your pic but it looks a bit stained there ( oily residue) If so chances are you have a slow leak. Confirm that is what you are trying to show. The low readings suggest that you are low on freon. Add some freon and monitor the drivers side temperature. It should get cold as freon is added , be patient. Add the freon as a vapor ( can up) to the low pressure side ( open blue side valve with can connected to yellow hose) .Keep the red valve closed. When the temp on drivers side and passenger side feel about the same stop adding freon. When I had a slow leak on my condenser this is how I would recharge my system on my 06. Eventually , you need to find out where the sytem is losing freon and fix that. For me it was replacing the condenser.
 
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At 80 degree, if I'm reading these gauges correctly (and I'm not sure I am) -I am 5-10 psi LOW on the LOW pressure side, and about the same on the High Pressure side. So if it is low, it's not THAT low. (which explains why the DIY refridge can read green.) Maybe it's a simple as having some moisture in the lines and needed to evac the system and recharge it - but I've never done that and the auto parts stores didn't have the kit to do it. (Sorry to anyone in Central FL, this kit I used broke, you can see the high side valve knob cracked, so I can't use that one to recharge the system)
Your gauges show 30 psi low, 140 psi high. FSM says 22-36 psi low, 199-228 high, at ambient temp of 86-95 °F. However, there's a couple things the FSM outlines for this test:
  • Engine warm
  • All doors fully open
  • A/C on full cold
  • Blower at full speed
  • Air inlet selector set to recirculate mode
  • Air temp at air inlet 86-95 °F
  • Engine running at 1500 rpm
At 30 psi on the low side, you're well in the range of 22-36 psi outlined in the FSM, especially as pressures will increase with ambient temp and you're a little below the specified ambient air temp for running this test. The high side is significantly low, however; if you're not running the engine at 1500 rpm while reading the pressures, this will be low!

If you don't have enough refrigerant, then BOTH the high and low pressures will be low. But your low pressure is in range. Without further context, I'd bet on the engine speed being at idle and not 1500 RPM when testing. Once this is at the right speed the low side pressure will likely decrease somewhat. If so, please re-check while holding the RPM at 1500 psi. This may be easier to do with two people, one to hold the RPM and one to read the gauges. Verify you have the rest of the settings and ambient conditions correct as well as outlined above.

Maybe it's a simple as having some moisture in the lines and needed to evac the system and recharge it - but I've never done that and the auto parts stores didn't have the kit to do it.
Specified symptom in FSM for moisture is that the air conditioner periodically cools then fails to cool. On gauges this is seen as pressure on low side when compressor is running cycles between normal and vacuum, or vacuum indicated continuously.
 

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This may be easier to do with two people, one to hold the RPM and one to read the gauges.
I cut an appropriate length if 3/4x2 inch stick and put one end on the gas pedal and the other end on the fore part of the arm rest. I slide the seat forward ( powered seats) tilt it forward a tad then micro adjust with the forward rearward seat adjuster till a good engine rpm is met. This is on my 06. It may or may not work for you.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is hard to tell with the shade in your pic but it looks a bit stained there ( oily residue) If so chances are you have a slow leak. Confirm that is what you are trying to show. The low readings suggest that you are low on freon. Add some freon and monitor the drivers side temperature. It should get cold as freon is added , be patient. Add the freon as a vapor ( can up) to the low pressure side ( open blue side valve with can connected to yellow hose) .Keep the red valve closed. When the temp on drivers side and passenger side feel about the same stop adding freon. When I had a slow leak on my condenser this is how I would recharge my system on my 06. Eventually , you need to find out where the sytem is losing freon and fix that. For me it was replacing the condenser.
The guy at the Oreilly's told me I'd need oil if I vacuumed the system - right now I need to buy some time, I don't have time to replace any main parts - so I'll hope that I can top it off using the pump (it wouldn't take the DIY can, but I learned more about the RPM's and spraying the condensor with water to simulate driving - I've never added oil to an AC before, not sure how you'd measure it, from what it says I think the system takes around 2 oz, but the can is 3?
 

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I've never added oil to an AC before, not sure how you'd measure it, from what it says I think the system takes around 2 oz, but the can is 3?
I haven't either, but presumably the same way you recharge an AC system from scratch. By weight. Weigh the can, add oil, weigh the can. Continue until 2 oz, or whatever is spec'd, is removed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I hooked up the gauge is and open the valves making sure that they were closed at the top. Started the car. Here are my pressures today, temp around 90 ambient, when I started the vehicle.

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I hooked up the yellow line to the can with the tap on it.

It didn't seem like anything was happening at all, then I slowly saw the needle rising.

I did this for about 15 minutes and while it did get colder in the rear and driver side it's still not to where it should be. However I'm leery of overcharging the system so I stopped and just wanted to show you these values. This is with the van idling at 1500 as well as all the other correct measuring conditions.

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It just seems like it doesn't want to take anymore a couple of times I did invert the can for a second I saw the pressure increase but I was told by some that I shouldn't do that and it makes sense in terms of having too much pressure. This still looks like it is a bit too low, is this something that I should hook the vacuum pump up to and boost the pressure into the system? It's like the pressure from the can is not enough. I feel like that's an ignorant question to ask but I want to make sure that there's not something fundamental I'm missing in my understanding
 

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My understanding of inverting the can is that’ll flow liquid into the system. But the low pressure side is vapor, and the compressor isn’t designed to pump liquid. So pulling in too much liquid refrigerant could damage the compressor.

Is the refrigerant can getting very cold? As it evaporates, it’ll cool the can. If the can gets very cold the pressure may come down to the low pressure side pressure and it won’t flow.

If this is the case you could stick the can in a bowl of hot tap water to warm it back up.

The vacuum pump won’t allow you to boost the pressure of the system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
How the heck do I tell if it is working - the pressure shoots up to high when I open the refrigerating can
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Otherwise, when I disconnected the can and put it to 1500 rpms, it showed me this
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It's colder but not quite there
 

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How the heck do I tell if it is working - the pressure shoots up to high when I open the refrigerating can View attachment 57030


Otherwise, when I disconnected the can and put it to 1500 rpms, it showed me this View attachment 57031

It's colder but not quite there


90F ambient should be 50/260

it appears that the system is low on charge

Do you have the new style self sealing can and proper fitting to connect to that style can?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·


90F ambient should be 50/260

it appears that the system is low on charge

Do you have the new style self sealing can and proper fitting to connect to that style can?
So I was reading that right! I know it's slow but it's not taking any. I bought a t-valve that was next to the can and it opens and closes fine although I can hear it leaking when I invert it. Here is the picture of it...



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So I was reading that right! I know it's slow but it's not taking any. I bought a t-valve that was next to the can and it opens and closes fine although I can hear it leaking when I invert it. Here is the picture of it...



View attachment 57040
That looks like the old style puncture valve, not the style used on the new "self seal cans", which is printed on the can in the photo.

Do you remember if the valve had a needle point or just a blunt end on it?

You could probably unscrew that valve to check, chances are the can will seal, if not it'll leak out.

The puncture valve is not compatible with the self seal cans, so that would explain why you are getting very little flow if any at all.

 

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Shit. I forgot to talk to my coworker today who used to be an HVAC tech about this. I don't disagree that the R134a chart shows 50/260, but that's definitely above what the FSM says the pressure should be. I meant to ask him about this.

I think the answer may be superheat. The R134a chart is the saturation temp of the R134a. The saturation temp is NOT what the system pressure should be at the point you measure it, due to superheat/subheat. See the following article. It explains how with charging by pressure, you need to also measure the refrigerant temps, and need to know if it's a fixed oriface or a thermostatic expansion valve. Why Can’t You Just Measure Pressures to Check a Refrigerant Charge?

The "most appropriate" way to charge an AC system is to pull a vacuum on the entire system, and then charge it by adding the design amount of refrigerant by weight. With what little I know, I would personally not recommend trying to charge the system until the pressures you read match the R134a saturation chart, but would use the pressures in the FSM instead.

If these vans had a sight glass it would be so much easier...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
An update - so I tried to do things the right way this time instead of just adding. Took it to an AC shop and had me back it, they didn't charge me and said they took about half a pound out so I was definitely low.

I checked the sticker and went to go add to the system after I vacuumed it for 5 minutes, check the system after an hour and it lost about three or four PSI in the vacuum so like -26 maybe. So if there's a leak it is hopefully a slow one AKA I can get through the summer on this charge.

The first can I added had UV die mixed in it and with the food scale I had I added the 29 oz as per the sticker. However this process took about three or four hours I mean this thing took forever to fill up. I know it's a big system but yeesh.

But now I'm pretty sure my compressor is not coming on the entire time it never seem to get any colder. But I knew I was adding something because the system was on the gauges and the freon had to go somewhere.

I checked with a UV light and didn't see anything so I'm assuming the system took the freon that I actually added.

I pulled the AC clutch relay and tried to check it with a multimeter for continuity and it didn't register - the smaller 7.5 fuse was fine when I checked it. I've never checked the relay that this type before so I don't know if I'm doing it right but neither of the poles seem to have continuity so I don't know if it's bad or not. Once I finish with this last 5 oz I'm going to drive it around to see if I can get the AC compressor to kick on. Don't know how I added the refrigerant if the compressor was not kicking on at all - if the clutch fuse is bad does that mean the compressor is moving but just really really slow, which is why it took so long to add?

Edit - yep after doing all this work the problem is worse than it was now I have no AC at all. That made sense when I evac the system because it was empty but now it is not empty I added the correct amount and it is not cooling at all. I cannot tell in this vehicle where the f** compressor is but if I'm looking down where all the belts are all I see is belt spinning so there's that. I don't hear it compressing gas though when I turn off the vehicle on and off. I'm hoping it's ac clutch relay that somehow just magically after I evac, vacuumed and refilled the system.

The compressor was working before all this started and maybe I should have been satisfied with some cooling effect. I hate going on shift with something like this hanging over my head and not knowing.
 

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So with the gauges connected after you filled, the high pressure gauge always read the same as the low pressure gauge? Or did you not have the gauges connected?

The compressor is located below the alternator. You can see the pulley from above if you have the right angle and a flashlight. This picture, taken below from my water pump swap this last weekend, shows the pulley of the compressor in the bottom right of the picture. You can tell if the compressor is engaging by looking at the pulley. If the compressor is off, the center of the pulley does not rotate, only the ring with the belt grooves does. When the compressor engages, the entire pulley will rotate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update - The compressor is definitely not running, though the clutch does rotate freely if you spin it. - wife went to auto store while I was working at Fire Dept and she swapped out the relay, no change. But one thing to mention that I noticed just now, the radiator fans are not engaging at all either. (hopefully that is a good sign) - I topped off the coolant - it took more than I thought it would but was by no means empty or even half empty (maybe took a 1/3rd of a jug)

Granted, that was just a quick 2 minute drive, but they should have come on. I got about 3 hours of sleep last night so I'm going to take a nap before I attempt to diagnose it -
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So with the gauges connected after you filled, the high pressure gauge always read the same as the low pressure gauge? Or did you not have the gauges connected?

The compressor is located below the alternator. You can see the pulley from above if you have the right angle and a flashlight. This picture, taken below from my water pump swap this last weekend, shows the pulley of the compressor in the bottom right of the picture. You can tell if the compressor is engaging by looking at the pulley. If the compressor is off, the center of the pulley does not rotate, only the ring with the belt grooves does. When the compressor engages, the entire pulley will rotate.
Sorry just saw this - with both gauges connected, the pressure reads low - zero on the high side and low side.

I AM COMPLETELY BAFFLED.

How can the system read NO pressure when I just filled it with 28 oz of refrigerant????? I know because I weighed the cans...that refrigerant had to go SOMEWHERE. And if somehow it wasn't making it's way into the system, I would see/hear it, because the first can had UV dye in it, so I would find that somewhere. (I looked at night w/UV light, couldn't see evidence of a leak anywhere (and the system held most of the vaccum after an hour, so if there was a leak, it'd be slow) anywhere. And to reiterate, it took FOREVER to fill the system. (3-4 hours)
 

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Okay, so if it's reading zero, then it either all leaked out, or most of it never made it in for some reason. That would also explain the AC compressor not kicking on I think, cause the low pressure switch would be tripped.

Also I don't deal with ACs, but I do deal with vacuum systems at work and loosing 4 psi of vacuum in a hour is a LOT of leakage. I personally would not have gone ahead and filled at that point. You need to find and fix that leak. Assuming the leak is proportional to pressure difference, which they usually are, and also assuming it's proportional with pressure vs vacuum, which it may not be, but assuming it is for comparison, we can say a couple things. So if you lost 4 psi of vacuum in an hour with about 1 atmosphere of pressure difference (atmosphere to vacuum), then if the system is charged and the compressor is off, and both sides have equalized to say 100 psi, then you'd loose like 27 psi an hour. That's not really accurate since a lot of the refrigerant will be liquid, so for a while it'll hold, but that's how much pressure you'd loose with just gas in the system. That's a BIG leak. So the leak probably got a lot worse. Which isn't hard to believe, as leaks don't get better on their own.

So step one is finding the leak. You had UV dye. Did you check everywhere? Condenser is outside, so it's easy. But you've got the evaporator under the dash, which will require digging to get to to check. There's also lines that run all the way to the evaporator in the back, which also will require digging, and crawling around on the ground below the van checking the lines that run below.

If you don't find anything, probably a pressurized check is the best way. Generally you'd want to do this with a dry gas, like nitrogen, CO2, etc, something that comes in a compressed gas cylinder, so it doesn't have moisture. Pressurize and watch the gauges, listen for gas leaking. On a leak this big, you could probably hear it. Once the big leaks are found, you can re-pressurize it and leave it pressurized and check for pressure drops overnight, and if it's still going down then use soapy water. Finding leaks in an A/C system by pressure-testing

You're also going to need to replace the receiver-dryer, cause you've gotten air in there, with moisture, plus with this leak you will need to open the system up to fix it, once you locate it, to change an O-ring or other leaky part, and standard practice to to replace this anytime the system gets opened. 2014 Toyota Sienna A/c receiver drier - 8847408010 - Genuine Toyota Part

Sorry man, this sucks. Working on AC systems is no fun. There's a ton of parts, half of it is buried away and impossible to inspect without tearing a ton of shit apart. The most I've done so far is on a 2004 Envoy I've had, bought with the AC not working, I bought a can of refrigerant with a gauge, checked and there was no pressure. I filled it and it blew cold. Then the next day a little less cold. And within a few days no cooling at all. Bought a proper set of AC gauges then, and hooked it up, and the high pressure was sky high. The can had leak-stop. This works by hardening when it contacts moisture. So in a dry system, it's supposed to work by hardening at a leak with the moisture in the air. But once the system has lost pressure and moisure starts coming in, now it just hardens everywhere. Like the expansion valves, plugging up the system... I just drove with the windows down until the transmission started slipping 15k miles later, then sold it as-is. I'm decently familiar with the theory of them though, as we covered heat cycles in multiple engineering courses in college. That was mostly math though, not practical work.

I did mention this to my co-worker today who used to be an HVAC tech, and while he said the FSM pressures seemed low for R134a, he also admitted he didn't know how car AC systems worked, since he only dealt with building AC systems. Those don't have compressors running at random speeds and cycling on and off like car AC compressors do, so the design is different between them.
 
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