Remember me mentioning that ours is a “vintage” motorhome? And although it’s long on years, it’s short on mileage with only 37,000 original miles? Well, as relates to the low miles, there’s a reason. IT HASN’T BEEN DRIVEN OFTEN OR MUCH. And as everyone knows, just sitting is not good for anything or anybody. This is particularly true for RVs, and especially motorhomes.
In preparation for our Great Escape coming soon to a theater near you, we are attending to at least two victims of “just sitting” …tires and in-dash air conditioning.
We decide to attack the A/C first. The truth is that it’s been pushing out non-cold air for some time. So, even the fact that the A/C’s dysfunction was due to neglect was itself neglected. This week I finally decided to do something about it. But what? I’m a DIYer (do-it-yourselfer) by nature. I hate spending money for something I can do. But to quote my favorite philosopher, Clint Eastwood, “a man’s got to know his limitations”. Recognizing that when it comes to automotive air conditioning, I’m out of my element, I decide to have it checked and repaired by a professional. But even finding a local “professional” is not easy. Particularly in California where “the people’s republic” makes it difficult (expensive) for shops to service R-12 refrigerant systems. Since the mid-1990s, the refrigerant system of choice on pretty much ALL vehicles is R-134. Our 454 engined, GM chassied Bounder has an R-12 system.
I decided to stop by a local shop that seems to have a consistent following of RV clientele, at least based on the number of rigs I had noticed. I asked if they worked on R-12 systems. The owner said that they do, and after hearing my tale of woe said, “sounds like you need a complete air conditioning service”. In my experience the word “complete” generally means license to steal. He described that a complete service included evacuating the system and then repressurizing the system with dye to check for leaks, and then recharging with R-12. I asked what that would cost. He said $670, and added “then we have you drive for a week or so to see if everything holds and it continues to produce cold air”. I told him I’d get back to him. I’m willing to be a guinea pig, but not for $670. And where does THAT number come from anyway?
Next, I decided to talk with the shop that smogs my vehicles and provides other general services. Do you service R-12 systems? He said “No! Not enough business these days to make it worthwhile. Why don’t you convert it to 134?”. I asked what that entails. He said “new compressor, new dryer…and maybe a new condenser.” I asked how much and he said “about $1100-$1400 UNLESS it needs a condenser. Then, about $2000”. I said I’d really prefer to stay with R-12. And he said “well we don’t do R-12, have you tried Charlie at Broadway Radiator? He’s the only one I know of around here that does R-12”.
I mentioned that one of his competitors also does R-12. The one I went to originally. He said “I guarantee you he’s taking it over to Charlie”.
In the end, I went to Charlie. His “complete service” was the same as the first guy I went to EXCEPT he charged $260 out-the-door AND, although he found minor leaks, he fixed them. We both agreed that although it’s working fine now, only time and driving it will tell. But for now, WE’RE COOL!
Next: New Tires…coming next week. Betcha THEY won’t be $260. 🙂