2007 Vauxhall Corsa Air conditioning

Tiny
MARVEL1UK
  • MEMBER
  • 2007 VAUXHALL CORSA
  • 1.6L
  • TURBO
  • MANUAL
  • 34,000 MILES
My air conditioning is not working, will it damage the car or it's engine? The air conditioning unit pipe is split and the connections have split apart.

I have been quoted £600 to fix by Vauxhall dealers, which I think is a rip off.
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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 AT 9:00 AM

2 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
It shouldn't hurt the engine or anything.
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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 AT 10:05 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Yup. That's what we do is tell you up front what the repairs will cost so there's no surprises.

A non-functioning air conditioning unit simply won't run, just as if you turned it off. As long as there's nothing wrong with the clutch on the compressor and it can spin freely, there's no harm in leaving it like that. Be aware though that if you should decide to have the system repaired in the future, it will probably be necessary to replace every metal part including the condenser in front of the radiator and the evaporator in the dash. You can expect the repair bill to many times higher.

There's no way to know which of the many pipes, hoses, or connections you're referring to so I can't look up the part prices. I don't know how your currency compares to dollars, but here in the U.S. Thanks to our politicians and environmentalists, all air conditioning work costs about five times as much as it needs to or did 20 years ago. Refrigerant used to cost around $5.00 / pound. Now it's closer to $50.00 / pound. That increase is all due to taxes. The typical system takes three pounds. Hoses for air conditioning systems have special nylon liners because the newer refrigerant R-134 has smaller molecules that can leak out through the porous rubber. R-134 is not as efficient as the older R-12, so the system pressures have to be higher to do the same amount of cooling. That means more expensive reinforced hoses and fittings. The compressor has to be stronger to develop those higher pressures. All of this means everything about air conditioning system repair is expensive.

The equipment needed by shops here in the U.S. To work on AC systems costs many thousands of dollars. You know they can't afford to buy that stuff and keep it maintained if they don't include a tiny fraction of that cost in every repair bill. That's a normal and expected part of every repair.

The concern here is even though we don't know exactly what split, that does not happen to multiple parts on its own. Something caused that to happen, and if that cause is not found and addressed, it's going to happen again. Your mechanic needs to do something to be able to figure out that cause. Unless he can do that in five minutes, he's going to have to charge you for the diagnostic time. I'm pretty sure YOU don't work for free, and he doesn't either. That diagnostic time is included in the repair bill.

Any time the system is opened due to a leak or for repairs, outside air can get in along with the humidity in it. Moisture mixed with refrigerant forms an acid which is very corrosive to the system's metal parts. To get that moisture out, the mechanic uses a vacuum pump to draw the system into a vacuum for at least half an hour. At that point water boils at 77 degrees F. And can be removed. It is also standard procedure to replace the "receiver / drier". That's a filter all AC systems have that include a desiccant to absorb up to ten droplets of water that might remain in the system. Do-it-yourselfers always cut corners and don't replace this unit, then wonder why the performance is less than ideal. If your mechanic is willing to do the repairs and not replace this assembly, he doesn't have your best interest at heart. He may be looking out for your wallet in the short term, but experienced professionals want you to be happy in the long term.

To save on labor costs when building the car, many AC hoses are built as two together so when you need one, you're actually forced to buy two. Special refrigerant oil circulates in the system, and when any hose or other part is replaced, the specified amount of oil must be added before adding the refrigerant. Charging the system requires special equipment that weighs the refrigerant container, and pumps the refrigerant in under pressure. Refrigerant is extremely dangerous to work with. Professionals wear safety glasses, a face shield, and gloves. Escaping refrigerant can cause blindness and frost bite. The hoses on the equipment have special fittings to prevent any refrigerant from escaping when they're disconnected from the car. That gave the manufacturers an excuse to triple their cost.

Here in the U.S, $800.00 to $1000.00 repair bills for air conditioning work is very common. Most independent repair shops don't even do it because they can't make a decent profit, and the cost of adhering to the reams of government regulations is prohibitive. There are so many taxes and fees added on because the government found things they can tax that consumers don't know about. Those costs all get rolled up in your bill.

If you still think you're being ripped off, try doing the repair yourself. You'll need about a $4000.00 charging station. You'll have to buy it. This isn't something you can rent. A vacuum pump is a few hundred dollars. To be legal you'll need to enroll in an air conditioning servicing class and pass the test. Our class is 180 hours long but there are shorter, less in-depth classes. Of course the government collects the licensing fees, and they collect the ridiculously huge fines when you're caught doing AC work without a license. Those fines are large enough to put small shops out-of-business. Don't forget the safety equipment. Now you're prepared to replace the broken parts and recharge the system. You still haven't identified or addressed what caused the initial failure. If your mechanic overlooked that, you'd call him incompetent, and you'd be right. Unfortunately, you think his expertise is a rip off. That's why we drive expensive cars and wear designer clothes. We just don't know what to do with all that money we take from out loyal customers.
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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 AT 10:10 AM

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