Will this retro air conditioning kit work?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

My local friendly discount auto parts store has been sending out flyers
saying that they have R-134a air conditioning retrofit kits. The flyer says
it includes "all fittings and the full amount of R-134a oil and refrigerant
needed to retrofit all cars 1976 and newer" for only $39.95. I'm no expert,
but everything I've heard and read says that you need to have a completely
new air conditioning system installed -- one that was designed to handle
134a -- in order to make a conversion. And that usually costs several
hundred dollars. My wife thinks that for 40 bucks, we might as well give
this retrofit kit a try. I told her we might as well just throw our money
out the window. What do you guys say? -- Bob

RAY: I'd tell her you'll try it, Bob. Then take the 40 bucks and go buy
yourself six cases of Mountain Dew with the money and tell her it didn't

TOM: There are two problems with this kit. First of all, although R-134a is
believed to be more environmentally friendly than Freon, it's also less
efficient. So when you switch to 134a, you also need a bigger evaporator
and a more powerful compressor -- in addition to the fittings, oil and

RAY: If you just put the 134a in your current system using this kit, it'll
work, but it won't cool very well.

TOM: But the second, and more important, reason for not using this kit is
because it's immoral, if not illegal. Federal law requires that you dispose
of your existing Freon properly (service stations have to buy very
expensive machines to collect and store the stuff for later pickup).

RAY: And if you buy this kit, how are you going to dispose of the Freon
that's in your current AC system? You're just going to just dump it out,
right? And that's illegal. So in my opinion, this kit shouldn't even be
available for sale to individuals.

TOM: And that's why we recommended the Mountain Dew. Not only is it more
environmentally friendly than releasing Freon into the atmosphere, but
it'll also do more to keep you cool this summer than this bogus retrofit

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