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How much should an air con repair cost ? Refilling valve faulty and NLA ?


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I`ve had my Focus (a 2006 Ghia model) for 5 years and the air con has always been fine, but it then stopped working. I took it into Kwik Fit to be regassed (£60 and it came back OK. I wasn`t convinced it was good as it used to be (though that could have been rose tinted spectacles) but it did undeniably cool the air significantly. However, within 2 or 3 weeks it ceased functioning again. Back to Kwik Fit it went and they regassed it but said it appeared to have a slow leak from the refilling valve. Unfortunately they could not give me a price and said it`d have to come back for their specialist to see it, then quote me, then order the part then take it back yet again. Alternatively they`d refund me for the regas, which I went for because at least two more inconvenient visits to Kwik Fit was not appealing.

I phoned a local Sheffield garage that does air con repairs (there don`t appear to be that many.....) and over the phone he said you can`t get the Schrader valve inserts any more* and you have to buy the whole pipe and if the pipe is corroded into the condenser (“common on that car”) that`d have to replaced as well. If it`s the low pressure pipe the whole job would be £200 to £300, if it`s the high pressure pipe, which, he said, was awkward to fit and required the bumper etc removing, maybe up to £400 or £500. Does this sound about right ?

 

* I have always bought Fords, mainly because they`re supposed to be cheap(er) and easy(ier) to repair, but, this, amongst other issues, is convincing me they no longer are. So it`s probable my next car will not have a blue oval badge..... Ford should take notice of this, I`m sure I`m not alone in feeling this way.

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1 hour ago, pragmatix said:

Regardless of the make aircon repairs aren't cheap, in my limited experience of aircon repairs, those price aren't to bad, but I would get a second opinion .

Funnily enough, when only the most expensive cars had air con, I assumed that it`d be unreliable and expensive to repair. However, these days most cars have air con so one would assume the price and reliability would have improved. Let`s remember that a fridge (the same basic concept ? ) is one of the most reliable of domestic appliances, I have one at work which must be over 20yrs old and has never gone wrong.

In this particular case, if the fault is simply a leaking valve, then the fact that will potentially cost hundreds of pounds to fix, is an appalling indictment. Why, if it really isn`t available, is that valve NLA ?

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The prices do sound about right if you need major pipes replacing, they are awkward to fit and genuine new ones are expensive to buy.

The Schrader valve must be a standard size though, and you can buy a pack of various sizes online for a tenner...  I don't know if there's anything unusual about the Focus one (unlikely!) but that would be worth a try I reckon...  It might even be that it's just loose and needs tightening!

 

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2 hours ago, TomsFocus said:

The prices do sound about right if you need major pipes replacing, they are awkward to fit and genuine new ones are expensive to buy.

The Schrader valve must be a standard size though, and you can buy a pack of various sizes online for a tenner...  I don't know if there's anything unusual about the Focus one (unlikely!) but that would be worth a try I reckon...  It might even be that it's just loose and needs tightening!

 

One would have thought the garage would know if a standard valve would fit ! ? ! Speaking from experience, my business used to repair TVs, we`d much prefer a job, even a lower profit job, where the parts are cheap and, even better, would fit more than one set. High price jobs with expensive parts were NOT our favourites, you can never be sure if the part will defn fix the set and/or if it has more than one fault. Then you`re left with an unhappy customer and even worse, potentially, an expensive spare part you may never use......
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I know yours is a MK2, but just had my Aircon condenser replaced and the system regassed ( Mk3 ) £ 390 all in . Done at the main trust ford dealers

@£130 for parts , similar for labour and the rest was VAT

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7 hours ago, Justin Smith said:

Let`s remember that a fridge (the same basic concept ? ) is one of the most reliable of domestic appliances, I have one at work which must be over 20yrs old and has never gone wrong.

As someone who has been involved with refrigeration on a more industrial scale, I can say that a fridge runs 24/7 (not the compressor obviously) in usually a good environment. A car AC is used a few times in the summer and left to sit (so the seals on the compressor dry up (which is where they usually fail). Not leaving them out in harsh conditions for the pipes to potentially corrode is another thing fridges have over cars. I'm not sure about domestic fridges, but ours have all the hard-line copper pipes are lagged to reduce condensation and we don't use flexible pipes with those crimped connections either. Also far less vibrations than on a car, which causes one or two leaks I bet.

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@Luke4efc  re aircon use mine stays on all year maybe that's why I have so little trouble with it, the one problem I did have was a stone through the condenser.

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16 hours ago, Luke4efc said:

As someone who has been involved with refrigeration on a more industrial scale, I can say that a fridge runs 24/7 (not the compressor obviously) in usually a good environment. A car AC is used a few times in the summer and left to sit (so the seals on the compressor dry up (which is where they usually fail). Not leaving them out in harsh conditions for the pipes to potentially corrode is another thing fridges have over cars. I'm not sure about domestic fridges, but ours have all the hard-line copper pipes are lagged to reduce condensation and we don't use flexible pipes with those crimped connections either. Also far less vibrations than on a car, which causes one or two leaks I bet.

I`ve heard this before, so why don`t all cars automatically switch on the air con for, say 10 seconds, every time the car is started ? Would that not eliminate the problem.

On the subject of corrosion, manufacturers can get round that quite easily, albeit at slightly increased cost, by using components with a thicker zinc coating or, ideally, stainless or some other non corrosive metal. This is a bug bear of mine, people saving a relatively small amount of money then landing the customer with a big problem a few years down the line.

 

 

Coffee and cream 300W L10 24kB.JPG

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Cold engines use more fuel and produce more emmisions.  Switching on the AC at start up really isn't ideal for the environment. 

It also needs to be run for several minutes for the gas and lube oil to circulate, 10 seconds would probably do more harm than good.

But that's only part of the issue.  The movement of the car and engine is the main issue...your fridge isn't vibrating constantly or bashed over potholes every day.  And it's not pelted by 70mph stones.  

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1 hour ago, TomsFocus said:

Cold engines use more fuel and produce more emmisions.  Switching on the AC at start up really isn't ideal for the environment. 

It also needs to be run for several minutes for the gas and lube oil to circulate, 10 seconds would probably do more harm than good.

But that's only part of the issue.  The movement of the car and engine is the main issue...your fridge isn't vibrating constantly or bashed over potholes every day.  And it's not pelted by 70mph stones.  

Fair enough, so switch it on for just 5 minutes (or whatever is the minimum time required to prolong the life of the air con) when the engine is warmed up ? I wouldn`t have thought it that difficult, in these days of computer controlled cars, to only do that every few days if that`s all that`s needed.

It would seem that in the case of my car, the issue is a faulty valve, apparently. There`s an even simpler remedy, manufacturers to use commonly available valves*. And, if the worse comes to the worse, and a cheap components non availability is going to cost their customers a shed load of money, when the valves are about to go out of production order in more than they would ever need. But, of course, that would make the manufacturer as much money, though it would promote brand loyalty.

I can remember, in the days when I actually liked driving (they`ve long gone....) when I rebuilt my Westfield`s gearbox, a Ford Cortina one actually. I replaced all the synchro hubs and all the bearings, apart form one. That was a specific Ford size, nobody else sold it, and it was HORRENDOUSLY expensive (I wonder why......... * ), so expensive that I didn`t bother with it. Sod`s law being what it was that was the one causing the gearbox noise.

* I`m a cynic, so my theory is Ford could charged that amount just because they knew it couldn't be obtained anywhere else. RIPP OFF.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I eventually managed to find an air conditioning specialist in Sheffield, Neil Grayson. He was sceptical if it was the filler valve, he said they didn't tend to fail on Fords, the condenser was usually the issue. He was right as it happens, he did the leak test and then put a new condenser in for £215 + VAT(£258), with a 12 month warranty.

It just shows you, go to a specialist.

Incidentally he said an air con system which needs refilling every two years has got a leak, they shouldn`t need that if working OK. Indeed a lad from work had a Fiesta which was 12 years old and had never had anything done to the aircon, yet it still worked OK. He also said he hardly ever used it, which is the opposite of the normal advice that unused aircon systems are more likely to fail ! 

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