My question concerns air conditioner freon and the EPA regulations...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

My question concerns air conditioner freon and the EPA regulations. My 1988 Dodge Dynasty has an ineffective air conditioner. I suspect it's because it's low on freon. My dealer tells me that if it is leaking freon, there is an EPA regulation that requires him to evacuate the entire air conditioning system, which will leave me no choice but to authorize a $700 repair. I have asked him to furnish documentation about this EPA requirement, but he has not, even after several phone and written requests. What do you think?

RAY: The reason he can't provide you with documentation is because there IS no such regulation, Jim.

TOM: What the mechanic probably means is that IF you want him to FIX the leak, he'll have to evacuate all of the freon before he takes apart your air conditioner. That's just so HE doesn't let the freon leak out. But there's absolutely no regulation that says you have to let him fix it.

TOM: Right. If your air conditioner is losing freon, you have the constitutional right to just leave it alone and let it leak. You can also choose to have it "topped up" with more freon, or decide to have it repaired. It's completely up to you.

RAY: The only EPA regulation you need to be aware of is this: If you DO want to have work done on the air conditioner, it must be done by an EPA certified technician because theoretically, these certified technicians are supposed to know how to add and remove freon without releasing it into the atmosphere or frosting their shorts in the process.

TOM: If you have any other questions about the EPA regulations regarding air conditioning systems, you can call the EPA's "Ozone Information Hot Line" at 1-800-296-1996.

RAY: They wanted to get a cute number, but 1-800-CARL SAGAN, wasn't available.

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