306 Evaporator

Post your Cit/Peu/Ren air conditioning queries or advice.

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306 Evaporator

Post by popperjoe » 24 May 2005, 19:42

Hi folks,
The air con on my 1999 306 stopped working about 2 months ago. I finally got round to taking it to an air con specialist today for diagnosis and hopefully a regas. I left the car with them and walked in to the town centre to do a bit of shopping, but within half an hour they phoned me on my mobile to tell me that they had found a problem. They used a fluorescent dye and found that the evaporator is leaking. The guy at the garage says a replacement evaporator would be about £400 !!! and then a further 6 to 7 hours labour to remove the dashboard to fit it. Total cost around £700. The garage seemed quite straight with me and only charged £30 total for the pressure test and diagnosis. I just wondered if this estimate of repair sounds about right to you fellows. Also would a dye be used during a pressure test, or would that be carried out as a subsequent test following a failed pressure test? I only got charged for 15mins labour.
I did read on another forum where someone had posed a question about air con problems in a 306, that the evaporator on this model very rarely fails. Assuming the diagnosis and estimate is correct then I will just have to get used to driving around with the window open. Any thoughts???

alan s
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Joined: 26 Jan 2001, 16:53
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Post by alan s » 25 May 2005, 04:12

In all my years of working around fridges and air cons, I must admit that I have seen very few leaky evaporators. Not impossible mind you, but extremely rare.
I would have to wonder at the time frame from when you left the car to when he contacted you with a diagnosis. By this I have to wonder at just how far into the system did he get to actually see the leak with his UV light detector.
I am constantly telling owners to give these guys full clear access to as much of the system as possible so that they have clear view of the suspect area because in lots of cases, looking through a confined space is deceptive in pin pointing the exact ocation. Two recent instances I have encountered were a BX that appeared to have a split bellows on the T/X valve that turned out to be a fitting with a dodgy "O" ring that was leaking all over the top of the T/X whilst in another, the covers were taken off the evaporator in a Lancer which exposed a fitting that had never had an "O" ring fitted to it and had been leaking badly all its life. The Lancer took at least a half hour just to get access to.
I haven't worked on a 306 but I have heard they are a bit of a bugger to get to and an even bigger one to replace the matrix on, so I have reservations on the time frame due to this. I would be inclined to strip everything out from around the evaporator and have a good close look yourself as any leak will show as an oil stain and the tracer will make it just that much easier to locate. If need be, then get the repairer to take a closer look with his UV light if deemed necessary. The point with evaporators is that they are in a protected environment and apart from corrosion or getting rubbed through are pretty bomb proof. I have had them MIG/TIG welded in the past as they don't get exposure to really high pressures and even a second hand one would be viable to use.
Prices for evaporators are pretty exhorbitant. It can be a DIY job at a pinch that will then also require anew receiver/dryer to be fitted prior to evacuation and recharge.
Alan S

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Joined: 11 Nov 2004, 00:30

Post by tonespeed1999 » 29 May 2005, 04:18

there price sounds about right! the full dash board need to be removed.just doing the common heater matrix takes about eight hours from start to finish!!.you need a lot of time and patience!.