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Are there any common leakage points in Fiesta Air-Con systems?


quaffa
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Hi all.

I have a late 2018 Fiesta.

Because of the pandemic it has done very few miles, and currently has just 7,250 on the clock.

It was MoT tested in December 2021 at the Ford dealership I bought it from, and I elected to have the air-con system 'refreshed' at that time. According to the MoT Certificate the mileage on that date was 6,458, so it has done just 792 miles since then. It looks pretty well brand new under the bonnet and there is no visual wear and tear at all.

Assuming that the air-con was actually tested by the dealership when they 'refreshed' it, it must have been working then. But last week when it was a bit warm I switched it on and no cool air came out. I contacted the dealership and they told me that it would cost me £300.00 for the system to be re-gassed with 'new style gas', so I took it to a local back street garage instead and they re-gassed it for me for £70.00. It worked fine when I collected it.

But... just four days later and the system is putting out no cool air again, suggesting that it has a fairly serious leak somewhere. I have looked at the condenser, and it looks in pristine condition to me, and I certainly don't remember hearing any stone impacts since December.

I am a bit worried that rectification of this leakage is going to be very expensive if the condenser, or any other inaccessible components of the system, need replacing, and so I'm wondering whether there are any 'weak spots' in the Fiesta system, where a connecting hose or pipe may have a leak for example, that I can point my back street garage at?

Has anyone any info on this please?

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If it's only lasted 4 days, the garage didn't test the system properly in the first place.  You may be able to see fluorescent dye around the condenser, compressor or one of the joins...but of course, much of the pipework is hidden.

A system 'refresh' is a bit of a con really, it's just a disinfectant spray they put in through the vents, not a regas or AC system test at all.

Honest advice would be to find someone that actually knows what they're doing with AC systems...  On a car of that age, I would suspect a pin-prick leak on the condenser rather than anything more serious though.

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Thanks Tom.

I learnt that the 'refresh' was a waste of money as soon as I collected the car.

I take your point about my man not testing properly, but he seemed to know what he was talking about, and of course he was a lot cheaper than the dealer.

And, even if it is only a pin-prick in the condenser, to lose all its gas in a few days suggests it might be a big pin-prick. And even if it were a small one I am led to believe that a replacement condenser would still be required, with all the work that entails.

I'm taking it back tomorrow, and I am really hoping it is a cheap o-ring or connection or pipe that is at fault...

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57 minutes ago, quaffa said:

I'm taking it back tomorrow, and I am really hoping it is a cheap o-ring or connection or pipe that is at fault...

Fingers crossed, but over the years, I've had repairs done to 5 different cars for A/C, the most common fault was the condenser, not disastrous, but an expense you can do without. On 2 cars it was the compressor, on both occasions a used eBay item did the trick. (On one, a Celica GT4 the dealer wanted £1200 for a compressor, eBay got me one for £50 which lasted 7 years till I sold the car still working). My current Focus also had a £30 eBay compressor on it fitted 3 years ago, still icy cold. Oh, and a new condenser as well!

As Tom already said, the key is to get a proper A/C guy as you don't want to be paying for the learning curve of a general mechanic, they've seen it all and can usually diagnose pretty quick.

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12 hours ago, quaffa said:

Thanks Tom.

I learnt that the 'refresh' was a waste of money as soon as I collected the car.

I take your point about my man not testing properly, but he seemed to know what he was talking about, and of course he was a lot cheaper than the dealer.

And, even if it is only a pin-prick in the condenser, to lose all its gas in a few days suggests it might be a big pin-prick. And even if it were a small one I am led to believe that a replacement condenser would still be required, with all the work that entails.

I'm taking it back tomorrow, and I am really hoping it is a cheap o-ring or connection or pipe that is at fault...

Well, I hope it's an easy fix for you, do keep us updated.

The price sounds too cheap really, did they definitely put the correct stuff in?  And enough of it?  R1234YF gas does cost a lot more than the old R134A...even at a backstreet garage I'd be expecting £100-£150 for that.

You're right, if the condenser is damaged in any way, it can't really be repaired.  Though they're not all that expensive or labour heavy on these cars fortunately.

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Thanks Tom.

My man at the garage told me that 'old style' gas worked just as well, and so that was the reason why it was so much cheaper than the 'new style' at the dealer. He was right; it worked perfectly... for four days.

Sadly it IS a problem with the condenser; I've seen a photo of the UV dye drip. So the car is booked in for two days to have it replaced.

My man said Ford were wanting £264.00 plus VAT for the condenser, (so less than for the gas!), and, while there will undoubtedly be a big bill for labour, it won't be as big as it would be at the dealer.

I do prefer to deal with a real mechanic face to face rather than with an anonymous female telephonist at dealer HQ, which is the best I've been able to do recently when trying to contact them.

How to motor manufacturers life their parts so that they only fail just after the warranty expires...?

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3 minutes ago, quaffa said:

Thanks Tom.

My man at the garage told me that 'old style' gas worked just as well, and so that was the reason why it was so much cheaper than the 'new style' at the dealer. He was right; it worked perfectly... for four days.

Sadly it IS a problem with the condenser; I've seen a photo of the UV dye drip. So the car is booked in for two days to have it replaced.

My man said Ford were wanting £264.00 plus VAT for the condenser, (so less than for the gas!), and, while there will undoubtedly be a big bill for labour, it won't be as big as it would be at the dealer.

I do prefer to deal with a real mechanic face to face rather than with an anonymous female telephonist at dealer HQ, which is the best I've been able to do recently when trying to contact them.

How to motor manufacturers life their parts so that they only fail just after the warranty expires...?

Hang on...so they have put the wrong gas in it!?  It is illegal for them to do that, as well as to fill a known leaking system.  But worse than that, it will reduce the life of the components in the system as well.  Good luck I guess... :unsure:

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Not sure what you mean about illegal, but it was certainly a lot cheaper.

But you have scared me now, and so I have booked the car into the dealer for the repair. You might have cost me a lot of money... or you might have saved me from damaging my car. One or the other... 😄

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5 minutes ago, quaffa said:

Not sure what you mean about illegal, but it was certainly a lot cheaper.

 

The gas formulation was changed thanks to the environmental nutters - refilling with incorrect gas that did not come with the car is illegal, and no reputable mechanic would have entertained the idea.

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3 hours ago, StephenFord said:

The gas formulation was changed thanks to the environmental nutters - refilling with incorrect gas that did not come with the car is illegal, and no reputable mechanic would have entertained the idea.

Should be impossible to put the wrong gas in. The connectors on the car are different size to stop connecting the wrong equipment. Will say under the bonnet on a sticker what type of gas it should be . 

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2 minutes ago, iantt said:

Should be impossible to put the wrong gas in. The connectors on the car are different size to stop connecting the wrong equipment.

There are adapters to override that...

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12 minutes ago, quaffa said:

There are adapters to override that...

I don't know what your point is. You can put 'red diesel' into a diesel car - doesn't make it legal though...

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The whole point of using r1234yf was to save the dolphins and polar bears. r134a is 350 times worse for the atmosphere than r 1234yf. So if thethe gas escapes from a newer  car that's 349 less cars worth of damage. 

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When the antifreeze needs changing, just put tap water in . It's cheaper. Does the same nearly. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

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5 hours ago, quaffa said:

But you have scared me now, and so I have booked the car into the dealer for the repair. You might have cost me a lot of money... or you might have saved me from damaging my car. One or the other... 

😄

Probably both... :laugh:

An AC specialist might have been cheaper than the main dealer!

The intention wasn't to scare you, just give you more information to make your own choice.  The lubricating oil used in the old gas isn't compatible with the seals in the later system.  The pressure/temperature values are also different.  So while it will work in the short term, there's a high risk of damage in the long term.  As it's still a fairly new thing, we don't have much long term evidence to determine just how much risk there is so far.

As others have said, the legal implications come because of how damaging the old gas is for the environment, which is why it's particularly sad that garages continue to regas systems without proper leak checks first. 

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That rate of leakage sounds like the valves on either the high pressure/ low pressure sides or both are leaking (either because they weren't tightened or just failed) the valves are a common failure point on AC systems in general

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