One of the more time-consuming repairs performed on an air conditioning system is the replacement of a damaged or failed refrigerant line. A line joint fitting may be corroded and will not break free, or a rub through condition on the line itself may have occurred. The vehicle may be at your repair facility for a collision repair, and one of the refrigerant lines requires replacement.
When there is this type of failure, there are a few options available.
- Complete line replacement
- Mechanical crimp splice
- Compression nut and body
- Line terminating cap
Complete Line Replacement
A complete replacement line is one option to make the repair. However, depending on the vehicle manufacturer, and what line is damaged, the replacement refrigerant line may be several feet long or it may be in a difficult to access location, as those going to the rear air conditioning system on a full sized van or sport utility vehicle.
The downside to this repair option for your customer is the cost of parts, labor and vehicle down time. For the repair facility, the downside is the amount of time the service bay and technician are occupied to replace the line.
Here is a cost and time breakdown to replace the rear air conditioning lines on a 2009 Chevrolet Suburban. The refrigerant lines on this truck are under the body.
The customer is looking at a bill of at least $800.00 to get the air conditioning system operating.
On an older vehicle, your customer may hesitate to have the air conditioner repaired because of the cost. If this is an older vehicle or a custom-built chassis vehicle such as a conversion van, recreational vehicle or even a farm implement, a replacement line may no longer be available.
Tanks. You're welcome.
When comparing the benefits of a mechanical crimp splice to complete line replacement, the mechanical crimp splice is lower cost and a repair can be made in less time. This type of splice uses a connector spliced into the refrigerant line. The splice is highly effective although it requires use of a special clamp and crimping tool to install the connector.
The failed section of line is cut out and a replacement section of line is installed using two connectors. Depending upon the location of the failure, this tool may not work due to the size of the tool. A portion of the refrigerant line may need to be removed from the vehicle to make the splice.
Fuel Modules and Pumps
A new type of line splice that is available is a compression nut and body splice kit.
Like the mechanical crimp splice connector, the failed section of line is removed. This repair can be made on vehicle and does not require special tools. The repair can be made in a minimal amount of time compared to the complete line replacement and the mechanical crimp splice connector repair. It is also the lowest cost option.
This line splice kit can be used almost anywhere along a damaged refrigerant line. If corrosion caused the line to leak, install the splice kit at the damaged area of the line. If a section of a line has to be replaced due to other damage, remove the damaged section of line and use two splice kits to install the new section of line.
The manufacturer of the compression nut and body splice kit also has a kit of aluminum air conditioning line tube inserts which can be used with the splice kit. The kit has multiple quantities of different diameter inserts and can be used to replace sections of failed refrigerant line(s) on the vehicle.
Recently released for automotive air conditioning repair is a line terminating cap. The line terminating cap is a practical alternative for your customer whose vehicle has a leaking rear evaporator and does not want to invest the money to replace the rear evaporator, but still want air conditioning.
A line terminating cap serves the same purpose as cutting then brazing closed the refrigerant lines going to and from the rear evaporator. When comparing the line terminating cap to brazing the lines closed, it is safer, quicker and it can be installed at a lower cost.
Installing the line terminating cap involves cutting refrigerant lines going to and from the rear evaporator, then installing a line terminating cap on each line, followed by recharging the air conditioning system and leak checking the connections.
There is a customer benefit of the line terminating cap over brazing the refrigerant lines closed. In the future, if your customer decides to have the evaporator replaced, the line terminating caps can be removed and using line splice
kits, splice the refrigerant lines on the vehicle to those on the new evaporator.