I wanted to share with you a situation that happened at our shop recently. One of our customers, we’ll call him Bob, had a situation with his air conditioning system. It was not cooling but that is not an unusual situation during this hot weather. Even systems that are in good condition can lose up to 4 ounces of Freon a year. He shopped around looking for an inexpensive option and ended up taking his car to another repair facility to fix it. They added the Freon but within a day or so it was still not cooling. This shop did a thorough examination and found that the condenser had a leak. They gave Bob an estimate of $650 to replace and recharge it.

Bob decided to try other options that he had heard about and researched online. He had read about sealers and decided to try it. He chose one for $200. He wasn’t sure it would work but felt it was worth it if he saved $450. Sadly, it didn’t work.

He then brought the car to us to see what we could do. When he told us the scenario we were concerned because we had seen the results of other quick fixes with sealant in the past. We checked out the vehicle and found the problem. He had used an extreme overdose of sealer. Many do-it-yourselfers feel that more is better when using a sealant but actually, it is just the opposite. The sealer is designed to become a solid when it comes in contact with air and that is why only a small amount is needed. When too much sealer is used, the results, as with this vehicle, is damage to every part of the air conditioning system.

Instead of replacing the original condenser as the first shop advised, it now needed the condenser plus a compressor, expansion valve, switches, and most of the hoses. That $650 estimate is now a cost of more than $2500!

Most of the time when your A/C isn’t cooling it is just a case of adding Freon. That is the good news. When it involves more though, A/C failures are one of the most expensive automotive repairs because it is challenging to find small leaks. Only large leaks can be found with a visual inspection.

We truly understand why Bob tried to fix the leak(s) himself. He hoped to save money but I will tell you that when it comes to this type of repair, we don’t recommend you try it on your own unless you have a lot of automotive experience. If you do decide to try it yourself though, please proceed with caution and don’t overdo the sealer. Too much can be a very costly mistake.

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