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Old 06-18-2001, 01:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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A/C Doesn't Run Well When Car is Idle. Runs Well Only When Car Is In Motion.

A/C Doesn't Run Well When Car is Idle. Runs Well Only When Car Is In Motion.
Anyone else out there with similiar problems? I just got my A/C running again and the thing doesn't blow that cold of air when the car is not moving. Kicks in real good when the car is in motion tho.

Any ideas? The entire A/C system runs fine by the way(no leaks, plenty of refrigerant), so I'm thinking other elect problems possibly?

Alternator not kicking in nuff juice?

My car is a 93 vtec w/ 70k miles, no after market pullies so that can't be it.
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Old 06-18-2001, 01:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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for one thing.. AC doens't get enough power when the engine is not running fast enough.. just like how your headlights are brighter when you rev your engine, and dims a bit again when the revs drop.

also your car's not getting enough cold air when the car is not moving..
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Old 06-18-2001, 01:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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eh..so i guess it's just inefficient A/C i gotta deal w/.

My 97 lude used to blow such cold air whenever and wherever. the A/C system on the 5th gen kick ass.

thanks anyway. any other suggestions?
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Old 06-18-2001, 03:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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hmm.. just when you say that.. "gen5 a/c better designed then gen4 a/c" i remember reading an artical about the gen5s when they 1st came out.. one of the better improvements mentioned over the last generation IS the A/C...
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Old 06-18-2001, 06:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Could be a few things:

- You really are low on refrigerant. How did you check? Being low will cause very poor performance at low RPMs.

- Your condensor fan isn't kicking on. You need airflow across the coils to make the AC work effectively. Make sure the second fan kicks on when the compressor cycles on and off.

- Do you have R134 or R12? I'm not sure on Hondas, but I know first gen R134 systems used R12 hardware and pressures; as such they sucked. R134 needs to be run at higher head pressures to be as effective as R12. I highly doubt Honda did this or designed the 4th gen's AC poorly.

- Do you have an underdrive pulley? They reduce the power robbed by accessories, but in some cases, like the AC, they will cause them to work poorly at idle.

Don't think the problem is electrical- otherwise it would more likely be all the time. I would suspect the pulley (if you have one), then refrigerant, and fan (in that order).
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Old 06-18-2001, 09:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci
Could be a few things:

- You really are low on refrigerant. How did you check? Being low will cause very poor performance at low RPMs.

- Your condensor fan isn't kicking on. You need airflow across the coils to make the AC work effectively. Make sure the second fan kicks on when the compressor cycles on and off.

- Do you have R134 or R12? I'm not sure on Hondas, but I know first gen R134 systems used R12 hardware and pressures; as such they sucked. R134 needs to be run at higher head pressures to be as effective as R12. I highly doubt Honda did this or designed the 4th gen's AC poorly.

- Do you have an underdrive pulley? They reduce the power robbed by accessories, but in some cases, like the AC, they will cause them to work poorly at idle.

Don't think the problem is electrical- otherwise it would more likely be all the time. I would suspect the pulley (if you have one), then refrigerant, and fan (in that order).
Marcucci,

Thanks for replying again. How's the S2k?

Ok, I've eliminated all but one of your suggestions.

1.can't be the refrigerant cuz I just had it filled(unless my mechanic lied to me).
2.can't be underdrive pulley cuz I don't have one.
3.I got the R134 and was afraid of reality-that my A/C just sucks compared to the one on my 5th gen, due to the factors you've listed. I wonder if I can switch to r-12, since I hear that r-12 works better, in terms of cooling(except that it hurts the ozone). Oh, and r-12 is $$$.

Ok..now, the question about the condensor fan. Just making sure which fan this is. This is the driver side located fan located adjacent to the radiator fan, correct? Yes, it does come on and off as you turn the A/C on and off.

Now, this morning, I did a lil experiment following a tip from Overdose. At a stoplight, I revved up the car to 2.5k, and noticed that the A/C started coming out cooler. I will try this again coming home from work, when temps will be in the 90's.

I'm starting to think that his is a combo of poor A/C design and extreme temps in the SoCal valley.

Thanks for the tips, all of you guys. and keep them coming!
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2.97' Prelude Typesh w/ a few mods - Got Hit in 99', severe front end damage
3.93' Prelude VTEC w/ a few mods - What I Got Now and I am keeping this one! (knock on wood)
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Old 06-18-2001, 09:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by pkw1
hmm.. just when you say that.. "gen5 a/c better designed then gen4 a/c" i remember reading an artical about the gen5s when they 1st came out.. one of the better improvements mentioned over the last generation IS the A/C...
yah..correct. the A/C on the 5th gen ludes kick so much ass that I remember one editor from Car and driver(i think maybe yates) saying that even at lowest setting, the A/C was "painful".
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1.93' Prelude Si w/ sh*t load of mods - Got Stolen in 96', found in East Los Angeles with nothing
2.97' Prelude Typesh w/ a few mods - Got Hit in 99', severe front end damage
3.93' Prelude VTEC w/ a few mods - What I Got Now and I am keeping this one! (knock on wood)
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Old 06-18-2001, 12:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by johnsoncranium


Marcucci,

Thanks for replying again. How's the S2k?

Just great. The car absolutely rocks. No regrets!

Quote:
Ok, I've eliminated all but one of your suggestions.

1.can't be the refrigerant cuz I just had it filled(unless my mechanic lied to me).
I'm overly cynical but I wouldn't rule this out. On the reciever there is a sight glass; with the engine running and AC on, clean off the glass and look for bubbles. Not sure where it is on the 4th gen, but it should be somewhere towards the front on either side of the rad. You should recognize it when you see it, two AC lines coming out and a glass bubble on top. With the AC working, a few bubbles indicates low refrigerant.

Quote:
3.I got the R134 and was afraid of reality-that my A/C just sucks compared to the one on my 5th gen, due to the factors you've listed. I wonder if I can switch to r-12, since I hear that r-12 works better, in terms of cooling(except that it hurts the ozone). Oh, and r-12 is $$$.
If you upgraded to 134 (that's what you meant, right?) from R12, then your performance would suffer and you could really only go back to improve on it. If you have 134 and the car came with it DO NOT put R12 in!!! R134 systems that are designed for 134 run at pressures high enough to detonate R12 and you will blow something!

I doubt Honda would have used any R12 components in even their first R134 system, they tend to do things right the first time. If your system was made for 134, I would look in other places for a prob.

Quote:
Ok..now, the question about the condensor fan. Just making sure which fan this is. This is the driver side located fan located adjacent to the radiator fan, correct? Yes, it does come on and off as you turn the A/C on and off.
Not sure which fan it is. Unless you've been sitting in traffic or idling for 10 or 15 minutes, the radiator fan shouldn't come on. The AC fan is the one that toggles on and off with the AC. If one fan does this, then that's the AC fan. The radiator fan is independent of the AC system (this is NOT true for cars with only one fan or some other makes/models).

Quote:
Now, this morning, I did a lil experiment following a tip from Overdose. At a stoplight, I revved up the car to 2.5k, and noticed that the A/C started coming out cooler. I will try this again coming home from work, when temps will be in the 90's.
This is common with low coolant. I still think this is the problem. Look for those air bubbles in the sight glass, you may very well just have a leak. O-rings are a common point of failure, you may have one bad that your mechanic missed. Make sure your mechanic has a sniffer for the refrigerant, he should be able to spot the leak and fix it easily enough.

Quote:
I'm starting to think that his is a combo of poor A/C design and extreme temps in the SoCal valley.
I beg to disagree. I won't say the 4th gen design is better or worse than the 5th gen, but I would expect it to be adequate even at idle. Look for bubbles, you may have a leak. If no bubbles, I'd suspect the R134. If you car was made for it, there is likely little you can do. If you converted it, I'm sorry, 'cause it will be a LOT of $$ to switch it back!
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Old 06-18-2001, 12:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci
[B]

[B]

I'm overly cynical but I wouldn't rule this out. On the reciever there is a sight glass; with the engine running and AC on, clean off the glass and look for bubbles. Not sure where it is on the 4th gen, but it should be somewhere towards the front on either side of the rad. You should recognize it when you see it, two AC lines coming out and a glass bubble on top. With the AC working, a few bubbles indicates low refrigerant.

[B]





If you upgraded to 134 (that's what you meant, right?) from R12, then your performance would suffer and you could really only go back to improve on it. If you have 134 and the car came with it DO NOT put R12 in!!! R134 systems that are designed for 134 run at pressures high enough to detonate R12 and you will blow something!

I doubt Honda would have used any R12 components in even their first R134 system, they tend to do things right the first time. If your system was made for 134, I would look in other places for a prob.




[B]

This is common with low coolant. I still think this is the problem. Look for those air bubbles in the sight glass, you may very well just have a leak. O-rings are a common point of failure, you may have one bad that your mechanic missed. Make sure your mechanic has a sniffer for the refrigerant, he should be able to spot the leak and fix it easily enough.



I beg to disagree. I won't say the 4th gen design is better or worse than the 5th gen, but I would expect it to be adequate even at idle. Look for bubbles, you may have a leak. If no bubbles, I'd suspect the R134. If you car was made for it, there is likely little you can do. If you converted it, I'm sorry, 'cause it will be a LOT of $$ to switch it back!
hmm..

i have trouble finding this glass.. is it ON the aluminum ac lines? does it face up, side ways, toward the front? does it have a cover?

can you point it out on this diagram?

http://www.hondaautomotiveparts.com/...ernext1=282318

thanks.

oh, and the car came w/ 134 and is using 134.

i will go ahead and try to find this glass. thanks for all the help marcucci.

so since the A/C works fine at driving speeds, can i rule out the compressor and such?
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I'M ON MY THIRD PRELUDE!!!
1.93' Prelude Si w/ sh*t load of mods - Got Stolen in 96', found in East Los Angeles with nothing
2.97' Prelude Typesh w/ a few mods - Got Hit in 99', severe front end damage
3.93' Prelude VTEC w/ a few mods - What I Got Now and I am keeping this one! (knock on wood)

Last edited by johnsoncranium; 06-18-2001 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 06-18-2001, 02:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by johnsoncranium

hmm..

i have trouble finding this glass.. is it ON the aluminum ac lines? does it face up, side ways, toward the front? does it have a cover?

can you point it out on this diagram?




It's item #11, the reciever. It's on the top of it (facing up), a little glass window that's between the two lines on it. It's likely dirty, you'll need to wipe the grime off of it, but it should be there.

Quote:

oh, and the car came w/ 134 and is using 134.

so since the A/C works fine at driving speeds, can i rule out the compressor and such?
If the car came w/134 (and wasn't converted) I would rule out the "design." You should spend a few bucks and pick up an A/C thermometer. Stick it in the dash- you should get I think a 25 or 30 degree differential (at least) between the vents and ambient (outside) temps with everything working right. If not, you've definitely got a problem, somwhere.

So is it icy when it's revved up and lukewarm when idling? What does it feel like? Better, measure the temp, look at the sight glass, and report back.

I would think it's safe to rule out the compressor, short of a leak in it or one of the fittings. I haven't heard of a compressor failure yet, so I suspect it to be a fitting or O-ring on one of the lines. If it's anything, you will be low on freon. If you don't see bubbles, you shouldn't be low, and well, you may just be expecting more than it can give.

Oh, and you're welcome
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Old 06-18-2001, 02:16 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Ok..! I’ve found the sight glass. For all you 4th gen owners out there wondering where it is, it’s right near where the intake filter is. It comes up from the refrigerant canister.

Marcucci,

When I first turned on the system, there were many bubbles. Tiny bubbles and the fluid did not seem steady, as there was much turbulence. From what I understand, if the AC was operating at norm, it should be just clear, no turbulence, no bubbles, correct?

As I left the A/C on for about 5 min, the turbulence and the bubbles dwindled. At one point, nothing. Just clear sight. But I guess having bubbles at any point is bad, correct?

Now.. I guess this either means,

1.I got a leak
or
2.I’m low on refrigerant. (But I just had it filled a month ago, so I guess the mechanic missed a leak.)

You mentioned the O-rings leaking. Is this something that is just tightened up or does it require more? Cuz I’m gona try to tighten em at home if it’s possible.

Oh..what do those light green plastic caps cover? I opened up both and it seems like the place where you fill it w/ refrigerant. As I opened em, it let out a slight air pressure. I hope I didn’t do anything stupid. But this was the only thing I messed w/ and the AC seemed to be working good at idle. Maybe it just didn't get hot enough.

While on that topic, how hard is it to buy one of those 134 refill kits and do it at home?

By the way, the condenser fan were working as they should, coming on when AC was on, turning off when AC was off.

Thanks IN ADVANCE!
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I'M ON MY THIRD PRELUDE!!!
1.93' Prelude Si w/ sh*t load of mods - Got Stolen in 96', found in East Los Angeles with nothing
2.97' Prelude Typesh w/ a few mods - Got Hit in 99', severe front end damage
3.93' Prelude VTEC w/ a few mods - What I Got Now and I am keeping this one! (knock on wood)
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Old 06-19-2001, 07:03 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by johnsoncranium
When I first turned on the system, there were many bubbles. Tiny bubbles and the fluid did not seem steady, as there was much turbulence. From what I understand, if the AC was operating at norm, it should be just clear, no turbulence, no bubbles, correct?

As I left the A/C on for about 5 min, the turbulence and the bubbles dwindled. At one point, nothing. Just clear sight. But I guess having bubbles at any point is bad, correct?
I'm by no means an AC expert, but... my guess would be that some bubbles may be OK at startup but 5 minutes sounds excessive. I know this is in the service manual, which I don't have here at work. Email me offline (and I'll check it when I get home) or have someone look in the service manual for what's "normal." My guess is that bubbles for 5 minutes is not.

Quote:
Now.. I guess this either means,

1.I got a leak
or
2.I’m low on refrigerant. (But I just had it filled a month ago, so I guess the mechanic missed a leak.)
Very possible. Did he even leak-test it? Many won't, they will just refill it and send you on your way. Especially with R134; with R12 they are legally obligated to find leaks and fix them, it's illegal to put R12 knowingly in a leaky system.

Quote:
You mentioned the O-rings leaking. Is this something that is just tightened up or does it require more? Cuz I’m gona try to tighten em at home if it’s possible.
I wouldn't. The fittings are all Al and will strip easily with too much force. Tightening usually doesn't work, either, as the seals degrade with time and non-use of the AC. The best thing would be to go and have it diagnosed. There are also a lot of them that are hard to get to... I'd leave it to the AC guy. If you strip one of those fittings, you're probably looking at new lines; did you see the prices of them on that link you gave?!

Quote:
Oh..what do those light green plastic caps cover? I opened up both and it seems like the place where you fill it w/ refrigerant. As I opened em, it let out a slight air pressure. I hope I didn’t do anything stupid. But this was the only thing I messed w/ and the AC seemed to be working good at idle. Maybe it just didn't get hot enough.
Uhhh... you almost did. That IS where you add refrigerant and check high/low side pressures. You just let out a little R134. I just wouldn't do it any more, that's just more R134 to lose.

Quote:
While on that topic, how hard is it to buy one of those 134 refill kits and do it at home?
I haven't used one, but I'm not sure I'd trust it. The problem is that if you're low, after having it refilled, you have a leak that needs to be found. It won't take but probably 3 or 4 cans before you could have just paid to have it fixed and working right. I can't speak for the bubbles going away in 5 minutes, but the number of bubbles you mentioned sounds like you are at least a can low (that's the way it was with my truck). You should take it in and have it checked.

The problem with those kits is that they usually don't come with gauges. You need to check both the high and low side pressures. Just hooking up a can with one of those kits can be dangerous if you overfill, you can blow compressor seals or line seals (those O-rings). In fact, if your mechanic overfilled, that may have happened. The A/C system is relatively simple but can be damaged. I wouldn't mess with it unless you have "real" gauges (which are expensive) and knew exactly what you were doing.
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Old 06-19-2001, 09:46 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci


I'm by no means an AC expert, but... my guess would be that some bubbles may be OK at startup but 5 minutes sounds excessive. I know this is in the service manual, which I don't have here at work. Email me offline (and I'll check it when I get home) or have someone look in the service manual for what's "normal." My guess is that bubbles for 5 minutes is not.

OK, I'll be emailing you. Thanks for all your help by the way. You came through once again. Damn Texans.

Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci



Very possible. Did he even leak-test it? Many won't, they will just refill it and send you on your way. Especially with R134; with R12 they are legally obligated to find leaks and fix them, it's illegal to put R12 knowingly in a leaky system.


haaaa..see, the guy swears he leak tested it. here's what happened. I took it to an independent honda place that's pretty reputable around my house. my A/C was cutting in and out, no middle ground. cold air or no air. period. after about 3 months of this shinanigan, i got nothing. no cold air period. So i thinks i'm out of freon. the guy at the honda indep shop fills it, does a leak test, the A/C works fine again. I get the car back, works fine. next day, no A/C. I bring the car back to indep shop, the guy at the independent shop sent the car to an A/C specialist. The A/C specialist found a bad ground in the heater/A/C control unit(located on the dash). Problem Fixed. So it was a combo of low freon and bad ground. I got the car back, A/C kicks ass. But this was also when temps were in the 80's. As soon as temps hit 90's, i start noticing this "cool" air only when car is going slow or at idle. It's not even cool air, really. Yesterday, temps hit high 90's in the valley in Socal, and man, stuck in traffic, the A/C did lil good. So I called the A/C specialist and will take my car there this Saturday to see what's up.


Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci


I wouldn't. The fittings are all Al and will strip easily with too much force. Tightening usually doesn't work, either, as the seals degrade with time and non-use of the AC. The best thing would be to go and have it diagnosed. There are also a lot of them that are hard to get to... I'd leave it to the AC guy. If you strip one of those fittings, you're probably looking at new lines; did you see the prices of them on that link you gave?!

got ya. I'll leave them lines alone. see, just as you said, there are many lines that are hard to get to. so i'm thinking if they did the leak test, how do i know the guy tested all places? i'm sure he used the uv method, as he has all the new equipment, but ..eh..

Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci


Uhhh... you almost did. That IS where you add refrigerant and check high/low side pressures. You just let out a little R134. I just wouldn't do it any more, that's just more R134 to lose.

oh. my bad. heheh.

Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci


I haven't used one, but I'm not sure I'd trust it. The problem is that if you're low, after having it refilled, you have a leak that needs to be found. It won't take but probably 3 or 4 cans before you could have just paid to have it fixed and working right. I can't speak for the bubbles going away in 5 minutes, but the number of bubbles you mentioned sounds like you are at least a can low (that's the way it was with my truck). You should take it in and have it checked.

The problem with those kits is that they usually don't come with gauges. You need to check both the high and low side pressures. Just hooking up a can with one of those kits can be dangerous if you overfill, you can blow compressor seals or line seals (those O-rings). In fact, if your mechanic overfilled, that may have happened. The A/C system is relatively simple but can be damaged. I wouldn't mess with it unless you have "real" gauges (which are expensive) and knew exactly what you were doing.
yah..i'm gona stay away from them and see what the A/C specialist can do. Thanks.
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I'M ON MY THIRD PRELUDE!!!
1.93' Prelude Si w/ sh*t load of mods - Got Stolen in 96', found in East Los Angeles with nothing
2.97' Prelude Typesh w/ a few mods - Got Hit in 99', severe front end damage
3.93' Prelude VTEC w/ a few mods - What I Got Now and I am keeping this one! (knock on wood)
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Old 06-19-2001, 12:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by johnsoncranium

- snip -
my A/C was cutting in and out, no middle ground. cold air or no air. period. after about 3 months of this shinanigan, i got nothing. no cold air period. So i thinks i'm out of freon. the guy at the honda indep shop fills it, does a leak test, the A/C works fine again. I get the car back, works fine. next day, no A/C. I bring the car back to indep shop, the guy at the independent shop sent the car to an A/C specialist. The A/C specialist found a bad ground in the heater/A/C control unit(located on the dash). Problem Fixed. So it was a combo of low freon and bad ground.
If the A/C quit altogether, and they had to refill it with freon (and it worked fine after), you had a leak. You don't lose it unless there is a leak, period. The system is closed, there's nothing for it to "leach" out of or leak from intentionally. As seals age they start to lose pressure, and older cars will have slow leaks. Though it's common, it's not right- any bad o-rings should be replaced and the system should hold freon.

Quote:
yah..i'm gona stay away from them and see what the A/C specialist can do. Thanks.
Sounds like a good idea. If they never found a leak, but put freon in, you have a leak somewhere. The ground wire sounds like a fluke, I've never heard of a Honda having or developing a bad ground (at least one someone didn't cause ).

Have someone use a sniffer and the dye. The sniffer is good for stuff you can't see... like the coils under the dash. It's expensive, but a good shop should have one.

Good luck...
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