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Do I need more Freon/refrigerant in my car?

Posted on 05/16/2018

Do I need more Freon/refrigerant for my Japanese car?

Do you need more freon/refrigerant?

First off let me educate you on what Freon is. Freon is a trade name, kind of like Mayfield is to milk. More accurately, it is referred to as refrigerant by all air-conditioner technicians. And, there are about a dozen different types of refrigerant.

Is refrigerant the same as coolant?

While both of them are responsible for absorbing heat, they both do it in completely different systems for completely different reasons in completely different ways. Coolant is a liquid and comes in a bottle and is not pressurized until it is put in a radiator with a pressurized radiator cap. The refrigerant is a gas until it reaches either 40° below zero or about 250 pounds of pressure; whereupon the refrigerant gas then becomes liquefied.

I know that's technical, but when someone calls up and says to me or one of the service writer's "I need some coolant"... That is when the questions from us begin. Typically, we are going under the assumption that they see a green or red liquid under the car and the vehicle is experiencing an overheating problem.

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Not a thing to do with them sweating their butt off while going down the road.

The automotive cooling system and the automotive refrigeration/HVAC system are completely different animals and the only common area between the two is typically used by the engine control module to determine whether or not it is going to allow the air conditioner to come on based on coolant temperature. If the car has overheated due to a cooling system issue, the engine control module will not allow the air conditioner to come on when temperatures exceed about 250°F. Other than that, there is no link between the two.

So what refrigerant do I need?

In automotive use right now there are only three types of refrigerant or Freon, and two of those are about as rare as hen's teeth. So, this discussion is going to be about R-134A.

R-134A is the refrigerant which replaced R-12 in 1996. The R-134A is less destructive to the ozone layer than the old R-12 was.

The next is the stuff that's going to be in all of the automobiles by about 2022. It is called R1234yf refrigerant. And boy is that new stuff ever expensive! But enough with this technical stuff.

So it is based on your car, the age of your car, and if your Japanese car has had a complete refrigerant change to the R-134A. It is most likely R-134A but without information on the last time your system was charged your just taking a guess and could potentially do more damage than good.

How often do I need more freon/refrigerant?

Every Japanese automotive air-conditioning system I've ever seen in the past 44 years is going to lose refrigerant over time.

How much it loses is the hundred dollar question.

The refrigerant can leak out in a couple of different places. It can leak past the seal in the compressor. It can leak past the charge ports where the system is serviced. Or it can leak past any of the O-rings which connect all of the components.

But, it's going to leak a small amount over an extended period in even the best conditions. What makes this such the potentially costly problem is that when it leaks refrigerant, is also leaking the lubricant which protects the moving parts of the compressor. And that will cause the compressor to fail. And sometimes when the compressor fails, it will damage/clog up other components, typically the condenser.

The condenser is that "second radiator" that is in front of the other radiator. And when the compressor and condenser fail, it can have a snowball effect.

So how often you need more freon/refrigerant can vary from vehicle to vehicle. Though having it tested by a professional can help you gauge where you currently stand and if it is time. If your car is blowing warmer air then normal, it is most certainly time.

How do I know the amount of Freon to add?

Now if you consider adding your own Freon/refrigerant you must remember, too much refrigerant in a system will also cause problems. If that extra can of refrigerant is added without the correct ratio of lubricating oil, that can have the same disastrous effect as running it low on refrigerant and oil.

Excessive refrigerant- even with the correct ratio of oil will cause the system to run at much higher than designed pressures which also leads to component failure. Quite a balancing act here, don't you think?

Is it worth the risk of adding the Freon/refrigerant myself?

So, you still have this notion to go to the parts store and grab a can of "Freon" (because your uncle/brother-in-law/want to be mechanic friend down the street thinks it's a good idea) and have a whack at it yourself, let me warn you about one last thing.

Most of those cans on the store shelves have this nasty little ingredient known as "stop leak" added in the can.

When this stuff is introduced into your air-conditioning system, it also has the capability of wreaking havoc on your system. There are a bunch of very tiny holes in a bunch of different components in your car's air-conditioning system that doesn't need to be stopped up.

If they do get stopped up, your air-conditioning won't work- no matter how much or how little refrigerant is in the system.

This stuff is so bad that every single automotive manufacture I am aware of has all sorts of written warnings about this stuff and how it will void any and all manufacturers warranties on anything and everything related to your air-conditioning system if this stuff is found when a part is submitted for a warranty claim.

I think that pretty well spells out why that stop leak stuff should be kept away from all automotive refrigeration systems.

Conclusion: Get a professional

So, does your Japanese car need more Freon/refrigerant? Here's my best advice: bring it to us! We have the training, the tools, the chemicals, the know-how, and most importantly, the ability to accurately determine what it's going to take to have cold air coming out of those air-conditioning vents in your ride.

Christmas Gifts for Car Enthusiasts

Posted on 12/01/2017

 

With the holidays approaching it’s time to start planning on which presents would make our loved ones happy. If you have a beloved friend or family member who is a car enthusiast, consider gifting them something connected to their passion. Here are some gift suggestions for the car-loving people in your life:

 

Driving Gloves

Leather gloves allow drivers to have a firm grip on the steering wheel. There are many options for practical and stylish gloves that will surely entice anyone who spends time in their vehicles on the winter days and nights. If the person who you are gifting gloves to has a car with touch-sensitive controls, there are fingerless varieties of gloves.

 

Tire Inflator

The colder weather can leave tires underinflated and eventually lead to blowouts. The good news is that proper inflation can be done easily with a portable tire compressor.

 

Engine-Block Coffee Table

Having car parts in your living room could be functional and stylish! A coffee table made out of an engine is sure to be a conversation starter when visitors come over. There's a surface above the engine to place, food, drinks, books, and anything else that one would put on a coffee table.

 

Universal Cell Phone Air Vent Car Mount Holder

In addition to phones being utilized for texting and calling friends and loved ones, they also have GPS abilities for navigating. Knowing exactly where your phone is while driving can be challenging.This universal cell phone holder allows the driver to keep theirs within reaching distance.

 

Bluetooth Cassette Adapter

Older cars are behind the curve when it comes to technology. Update a loved one’s automobile without all the costs with a Bluetooth cassette adapter. A portable Bluetooth enabled device can play all their favorite tunes. They can even make calls through the speakers.

 

Car-Seat Warmer

If the person you are needing a present for doesn’t have a car with factory heated seats, they’ll appreciate a seat warmer to keep them toasty when the weather is frigid.

 

Let Japanese Motor Works know if you need any more gift suggestions. Also, before you hit the road, we’d be happy to do preventative maintenance so you feel more secure on the winter roads. Contact us to schedule an appointment. Japanese Motor Works is located at 200 Firefighter Court in Athens, GA 30607. We look forward to your visit!

Thanksgiving Travel in the Car? How to Keep the Kids Occupied

Posted on 11/01/2017

The question that every parent hears during road trips from their little ones is, “Are we there yet?” With holidays approaching, it’s wise for parents to do some advance planning on how to keep their children occupied during their travels. The team at Japanese has some suggestions that could keep the kids quiet and busy during the holiday escapades!

 

Tablets, phones, and laptops allow the young ones to have a variety of options to stay content in the car.Prior to your trip, download games, educational programs, shows, and music. Audiobooks are also good to have available to fight boredom. Some of the books you can even listen to as a family. Local libraries often provide free rentals.

 

There are also many creative activities that will occupy and entertain your child. For example, dry erasable pens and a whiteboard give them the opportunity to write notes to each other, play hangman, tic-tac-toe, and many other games. Then they can wipe it away and start all over! Instant film cameras also provide much entertainment for kids. This gives them a chance to take images for a vacation notebook. Also, who doesn’t love silly putty?! It’s squishy, stretchy and because it’s elastic, it won’t get stuck on the seats. Colored pipe cleaners are also a good creative choice that gives kids the chance to make crazy shapes, jewelry, and animals.

 

Parents can get creative with things to play with. In a shoe box, put legos, Matchbox cars, card games, and other items. The top of the box can be used as a playing surface and can be decorated with crayons and markers. Magna Doodles and Etch A Sketches will keep your kids busy for miles! If you pop into a restaurant on the highway, have a “fun box” with coloring books, crayons, and blocks.


The team at Japanese Motor Works want your holiday travels to be safe and fun for the whole family. Some of these suggestions to keep the children busy during road trips should make your time on the road more seamless. If you'd like preventive maintenance before you take off on your vacation, contact us and schedule an appointment. Japanese Motor Works is located at 200 Firefighter Court in Athens, GA 30607.

History of Speed Limits in America

Posted on 10/01/2017

 

Whether you like them or not, speed limits play a crucial part in American history. In 1901, Connecticut was the first state to pass a speed limit law. This made the legal speed limit only 12 mph in cities and 15 mph on roads in the country. New York City introduced America’s first comprehensive traffic code in 1903.

 

The price of fuel prices rising caused a lot of states to begin applying a speed limit laws to save resources and money. In 1974, President Richard Nixon agreed and the 55 miles per hour law went into effect. Traffic fatality rate greatly decreased after the speed limit change. Because fuel prices became less of a problem in the 1980’s, the speed limit on interstate highways was increased to 65 mph. In 1995, the U.S. Congress allowed individual states to determine its maximum speed to drive. Since that time, 35 states raised their limits to 70 mph or higher.

 

If you know the saying, "everything's bigger in Texas," this idea extends to how fast we’re allowed to drive in the Lonestar State too. Texas boasts the greatest overall top speed when you average the speed limits on urban interstates, rural interstates, and other limited access roads. A 40-mile stretch of a toll road between Austin and San Antonio is the fastest road in America that legally lets drivers go 85 mph. As cars have become faster and as roads have become safer, speed limits across the country have changed.

 

What other states have the fastest and slowest speed limits?

Slowest Speed Limit (55 mph or lower)

  • Alaska

  • Connecticut

  • New Hampshire

  • District of Columbia

  • Hawaii

  • New York

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

  • Massachusetts

Fastest Speed Limits (75+ mph)

  • Arizona

  • North Dakota

  • South Dakota

  • Idaho

  • New Mexico

Regardless of how fast you’re allowed to drive, it’s crucial that your car is in top-notch shape regardless of the speed limit. At Japanese Motor Works, we are passionate about automobiles, and we hope you feel inspired to trust our auto repair capabilities and our highly-skilled team of ASE-Certified auto technicians. To schedule an appointment, call us at 706-549-5222. Japanese Motor Works is located at 200 Firefighter Court in Athens, GA 30607.

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