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Greetings, hope someone can make a suggestion or two for us.
Our Vehicle: 2003 Town & Country Limited
Purchased used, last August, 2010 with 89,000
Current Mileage: 106000
We like this vehicle. When we bought it, the air was working beautifully. Right before the 3000 warranty was up from the dealership, the air stopped working. A funny hissing sound started coming from the dash (where one turns the AC/Heat on) when the power for air/heat would be turned off.
We took it back to the dealership (100 miles away) and they filled it with freon, but could not find a leak, or other problem. I paid 95.00 for this service, as there was a $100 deductible on our limited warranty. They put some type of dye in there, and still could not find the leak. They asked me to use the air as much as I could (October in Wisconsin) and bring it back 30 days later. I did. The air was still working fine, but we had used it very little, because of the cold month, and they said that they could not see a leak from the dye. I expressed my concern that the problem was going to continue, the warranty was now up, even thought I brought it in under warranty, and the problem is still not fixed.
Late April came around and we needed AC, it pooped out almost immediately, the first day we needed it for more than 2 hours. The hiss sound from the dash was there again. (It may have been there earlier, I can't remember if it ever went away completely. It happens when the air power switch off.)
Now, I've called the dealership and told them, my fear has been confirmed...now that the warranty is up and it didn't get fixed, the freon seemed to have disappeared over the winter and we have no cool air.
They've said, bring it in, maybe they can "help" with the cost, IF the dye shows where a leak is or IF they can find the problem and BELIEVE it to be the same from before. However, if they think the problem has developed since then (such as a stone hitting and ruining the condenser, or other), then I will be responsible.
I don't want to drive 100 miles 1-way on so many IFs. The mechanic suggested that maybe I should try to find out what the problem is locally before driving it over...in other words, is the condenser working at all (because we know it was working in October.)
1. How can I check myself to see that the condenser is working?
2. Does anything I've told you make you suspect that this dealership may have loaded our car with freon right before we bought it, covering up a larger problem that they were hoping not to fix?
3. Is there a good, mechanical excuse for them not being able to find the problem both times I brought it in before?
4. What should I do now....just forget them and go get it fixed locally...or take it back to them and insist that they fix the problem?
Thank you so much for your help, I will monitor answers closely today and tomorrow, as my appt is on Thursday to take it back to the dealership.
Any help or strategies in negotiating with them, would also be very helpful. We obviously are not very mechanically inclined and I do believe this puts us at a disadvantage.
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Your condenser is attached to the radiator. Buried in your dash where it cannot be seen is the evaporator. After you turn the AC off, you will hear a hissing sound for a short time as the refrigerant equalises in the system. The problem with the dye test is you have to see the evaporator. Try this. Pop the hood and locate the compressor. Start the car, and when you turn on the AC, you should hear a click from the compressor and a slight change in idle speed. If you hear the click, continue idling and listen for more clicks. If it continues clicking on and off (cycling), you are low on refrigerant.
Ok, I see that I keep calling the compressor a condenser...no wonder it was telling me that I was spelling condensor wrong! It's message just didn't click with this old brain the until I re-read your message again!
Thank you so much for your help, we tried the procedure but weren't able to hear the clicks, so we took it over to a local mechanic and he told us that it just needed the refrigerant.
So, now the question is this...is it normal for us to have to get new refrigerant for this vehicle every 4-6 months...or is there a problem here that we should be insisting that the dealership take care of?
You have a leak that is far from acceptable. It is not uncommon for an AC system to go several years without significant loss. There are three methods for checking system integrity. The first is by pulling a vacuum on an empty system. This is normally only used when the system is violated, and the vacuum purges the system of air, water, and other gasses. It is the fastest way to determine if there is a leak, but does nut tell you where. The dye test you mentioned, will show a leak over time, but unless the leak is really bad, it is a check later. The dye also has to be in a visible place. The third is to use an electronic leak detector. This device has a probe that is moved around underneath fittings, seals, and other suspect places and immediately lets the mechanic know where the leak is. This is all I have ever used on a charged system. This problem should have been pinpointed before, when you had warranty left.