Chevy Impala SS Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I have a '92 wagon that needed 6 ounces of R-12 4 years ago. The Air Conditioner is just now starting to not cool as well. I'm hoping it just needs R-12 again. Problem is, I'm new to Cleveland, and am having trouble finding a shop that still has R-12.

I'd rather not convert if it only needs freon. I'd rather stick to the chemical that the system was designed for. Does anyone know of a shop that may do this within a reasonable distance?

Thanks in advance to anyone that can help!

Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Gone are the days of being able to top off your A/C unit. The fines are tremendous and jail time is possible for dispensing R-12 into a system that is known to leak. I looked at over a dozen places around here and each place needed to find the leak and fix it before they'd even consider adding R-12. So you are then stuck with 4 possible senarios:

1) you find a guy on the side that has some stockpiled before the restrictions and in most cases they want big cash, but not as big as a pro shop might...a pro tank of R-12 costs more than an ounce of gold...LITERALLY!

2) Find a pro, pay for the repair and then pay through the a** for the R-12 and pray it does not leak again, cause R-12 costs more each day.

3) You convert to 134a which in some cases is less expensive than fixing or paying for R-12, but I admit does not cool as well as ol R-12 did.

4) You deal without having A/C

I think that when the '80 Olds A/C comes time to repair or install R-12, I am going to go with an R-134a system because I am sick of dealing with the R-12 B.S. The GM systems always leak. Both '96s have kept their charge of 134a, but the old R-12 systems on all of our GM cars dating back to the 70's always leaked....which means you could be throwing your money into the atmosphere.

Good luck!


Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Or you can SWITCH to R12A, a product made to completely replace R134a without changing oil, or making any changes to your system. And you can swap out an R12 system by removing the oil and changing out the high and low pressure fittings ( I would find that leak though ).

( R12 oil is still considered 'illegal' so it must be purged from the system before using R12a... )

R12A is 100 percent legal in the USA, but hard as hell to find. I am running it in my 90 Camaro RS, and it CHILLS just fine!
I use a brand made by Durocool.

R12A uses about 1/2 the charge weight of R12. Its non-combustable, and NOT a hazardous material as is R134A.

I purchase it from a local antique car guy, who uses it in all his vintage cars, as do all his buddies. Its made in Canada, but there are distributors around.

I will be glad to give you the email address of the gent I get mine from. A case of 12 cans ( 6 ounces each ) is like $90. 6 ounces is the weight they chose since it only takes half the charge weight of R12.

I don't know WHY more people aren't aware of this product. It will even replace your R134a if you are worried about that FLAMMABLE and HAZARDOUS liquid sitting in front of you....


Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I just did a Google search with the terms R12a + refrigerant.

A TON OF info and sites are now out there.

Here are a few.

ONE Page down to the section on Automotive Air Conditioning


And what seems to be a good one:


Cool. :cool:

Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys for the information!

Since it only leaked 6 ounces in 7 years originally, I was thinking the leak would not be perceptible by any common testing means. It did leak again, though, in four years, so maybe we can find a leak... I was just thinking it was a normal amount of seepage.

I will research the R12A. I sort of hate to change over to a new chemical, but it looks like I may be able to do it easier with this stuff...

Thanks again!

Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wagon Collector

I do not have any R-12 left at all at my shop in Medina, but call North High Auto Service (buddies shop in Wadsworth) and see if he has any left. If you have tried an alternative refrigerant, do not call him. We will not service a system with alternatives in them due to possible contamination of our machines. His no. is 330-334-1317.
If you want to convert, give me a call at 330-725-4238, or in Ohio 1-800-728-4238. At my shop in Medina, ask for Scott or Brian. I am there mostly on Saturdays.

Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I checked out the site and it really reads like snake oil. I'm not saying it is. That's just how it comes across.

R134a flammable? I wish they would explain more about this, as it's not something I've ever heard of.

As to the use of HydroCarbon refrigerants in automobiles, this is from the EPA Faq on HC Refrigerants.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> May hydrocarbon refrigerants be used to replace CFC-12, commonly referred to as "Freon® ," in cars?
No. It is illegal to use hydrocarbon refrigerants like HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a® as substitutes for CFC-12 in automobile or truck air conditioning under any circumstances. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
This pretty much says it all for R-12 systems.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>May hydrocarbon refrigerants be vented?
No. Since November 15, 1995, the Clean Air Act has prohibited the venting of any refrigerant during the service, maintenance, repair, or disposal of air conditioning and refrigeration systems. When working on a system containing a hydrocarbon refrigerant such as HC-12a® or DURACOOL 12a®, the technician must recover the refrigerant into a suitable container and safely dispose of it. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The above paragraph presents a major snag for a shop working on a vehicle that has been converted to HC refrigerant. I'm not aware of too many shops, if any that have HC specific recovery tanks. Failure to disclose that a system had HC in it would contaminate whatever recovery tank it was placed in.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>What other regulations restrict the use and handling of hydrocarbon refrigerants?
In addition to the prohibition on use described above, and the federal law banning the venting of all refrigerants, there are also state and local statutes and regulations that relate to certain uses of hydrocarbons. As of the printing date of this fact sheet, EPA is aware that the following states prohibit the use of flammable refrigerants in automobile air conditioners: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Is it legal to replace HFC-134a in a motor vehicle with hydrocarbon refrigerants such as DURACOOL 12a® and HC-12a®?
In certain circumstances, the replacement of HFC-134a in a motor vehicle with hydrocarbon refrigerants might be permitted. At a minimum, in order to avoid violating the Clean Air Act, the motor vehicle A/C system must have either been originally designed for use with HFC-134a refrigerant, or must have been previously retrofitted from CFC-12 to HFC-134a refrigerant, AND no sham retrofit must have occurred to convert the system to the hydrocarbon refrigerant. In order to avoid violating other laws, the replacement of the refrigerant must not violate any state or local prohibition on the use of flammable refrigerants in motor vehicle A/C systems.
The following 18 states ban the use of flammable refrigerants such as HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a® in motor vehicle air conditioning, regardless of the original refrigerant: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

EPA and hotline staff will not, based solely on facts given in a phone call or letter, determine the legality under the SNAP program of using a hydrocarbon refrigerant in a motor vehicle retrofitted to use HFC-134a, because the determination depends on many factors, including the nature of the retrofit from CFC-12 to HFC-134a, the reason for the retrofit, and the exact procedure and timing involved.

If you plan to change a car from HFC-134a to a hydrocarbon refrigerant such as HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a®, you should consider that auto manufacturers have stated that changing the refrigerant in new vehicles designed for use with HFC-134a will void the warranty and may damage the system. If the air conditioner on a new car or truck is not working, consult a qualified mechanic or your dealer.

Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Charlie for the local info. I need to get with you on a gear change as well (planning to do a T56 conversion soon). I think I may get some 4.10 gears, a posi and a new driveshaft installed and drive it with my automatic tranny for a while until I get the T56 parts togeather.... but first I need to get the wife's air conditioner working! I'll give you a shout on Saturday.


Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Only my .02 worth. I think a 4.10 with the auto is too busy, to coin Dan95, but it is up to you. I will be there in the morning, then going to meet another SS'er to buy some parts. Call between 9 and 12.

Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Go to k-mart, buy the retro kit for $30. Let all your freon out. It is legal if you are not a mechanic. Go somewhere and have them vacuum your system duwn but not add anything and put the 134 in yourself. There is no need to change the ac oil or anything like that. Don't be scared. I worked at an ambulance company and we switched over 50 ambulances. At first they were getting oil drained and driers replaced but then we were just switching them and I even put r 12 in with the 134 in the same system and it blew just as cold as the rest. These trucks were going 5000 miles in 2 weeks and in the 2 years i worked there none of the ac systems had any unusual problems related to the switch. Since then I have done at least 100 other cars with no problems. I did my wagon last year and still cold. My 85 Camino in 1999 and still cold! 69 Chevelle in 2000 and still cold. Just do It!!!!

Discussion Starter · #12 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Wayne Bengston:
I checked out the site and it really reads like snake oil. I'm not saying it is. That's just how it comes across.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Some VERY interesting research. I suppose my source needs to re-evaluate what he is being told by the guys in the R12a business. Yes, I agree that some of these sites make their particular product sound a little TOO good to be true. And if the Duracool R12a is considered a hydrocarbon that the EPA has restricted, them I've been completely in the dark about it.

As always, the research power of this forum usually gets to the bottom line answer. Seems a shame that such a good product like R12a has to be just like R134a as far as recovery etc, and illegal for swap out!

Wayne, thanks again for pointing out the R12a legal issues. I was not aware of them, and its always good to recover refrigerants that that EPA says you have to!

Sheesh, just when I thought I was onto something. Guess I need to go back to my distributor and ask some hard questions.



Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Wow, digesting that EPA site will take me like a week or two! :D

So what I'm reading into this, and its just my interpretation, is that R134a and R12a both being flammable, my Virginia law won't let me run it, caveat that with something like R134a being put in the system by the OEM ??

Sheesh, government goobly-****, double speak, obviously written by a typical and well paid bureaucrat. :rolleyes:

I'm sure someone with a clear head may understand it, but that sure leaves me out! :confused:


Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've been doing some research and the claims that R-134a are flamable are VERY misleading. As I said above, they don't explain much on the subject...

UL classifies HFC-134a as "practically non-flammable." In other words, the conditions to cause it to ignite are very specific, and extremely unlikely to occur, except under lab conditions. Also, R-134 has less than 1/2 the heat energy of HC-12a. HC-12a is classified by UL as flammable. That means that it is more likely to ignite under normal conditions.

This of course is all moot. We carry a couple hundred pounds of gasoline around with us. A pound or 2 of HC refrigerant should not be that big of a concern...

Personally, the main problem I see, is that few, if any reputable shops would deal with a system that has been switched to an HC refrigerant. If you were to not mention it and contaminate a holding tank, I'd assume that you would be responsible for the cost of the refrigerant. That would be a pretty penny for R-134a. That would be jaw-dropping for, say 20Lbs of R-12...

Discussion Starter · #15 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Wagon Collector:
I'm hoping it just needs R-12 again. Problem is, I'm new to Cleveland, and am having trouble finding a shop that still has R-12.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I've been checking around here in Virginia and most all the shops have R12 to some level. From what all these shops tell me the rule/law has changed about topping off R12 systems. It used to be illegal to top off an R12 system, but apparently thats changed.

I was told to expect to pay $25-30 a lb for R12, which I think is reasonable, given the history of R12 pricing.


Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just had a fellow (A\C Tech for 25 years for a Transit company) do my '91 Wagon with Dura-Cool (R-12A) and it runs real fine, and real cool. He has used it since it first came on the market and has never had a problem. As far a combustion point? Oh about 1200 Degrees with flash it, but at that temp everything else is also toast! ;)
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.