High side, low side.

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

On a hot day in rural Michigan, we needed to recharge our otherwise stalwart pickup truck. That is, it needed some refrigerant. Why? There might be a very small leak, or some other complex complication. Bottom line was, on a mid 80 degree humid afternoon, you want some cool air blowing in your face.

Having had something similar happen a decade ago with our venerable (what’s with these adjectives? Venerable! Stalwart! Driven hard!) Ford Explorer in yet another hot and humid July in Michigan. When we got it back to Atlanta a quick trip to a local auto parts place gave me cans of R134a refrigerant and this hose doohickie that attached to what was a lot like a spray can without a nozzle and dispatched the stuff into the low side of the vehicle air conditioning system.

Yes, I did some reading up on the internet. And a decade later, I did much the same browsing, learned about all kinds of subtle things that might be wrong. I paused a moment, and said, you know what? The heck with it, let the folks who are doing our oil change (it was time for the truck’s oil change) do the recharge and they’ll probably charge a premium but they’ll do it right.

An hour or so later, I came upon our truck in one of the bays, hooked up to this device on wheels whose job was apparently to flush and fill refrigerant in precise amounts. The first service guy and called the older service guy over, and they got the manual out and started scratching their heads. Yes, the manual for the device on wheels. A third guy joined them. Apparently the filters on the device had recently been changed and it was beeping and reporting an error message. They had accomplished nothing in the refrigerant department.

So apologetically, I told the service “advisor” I had to go, and paid for the oil change, we disconnected, and I left them poking at their defective device.

And (see above), I went to the local auto parts place here and got cans of R134a refrigerant and this hose doohickie. Once I carefully checked which was the high side connector and which was the low side connector, I hooked it up and dumped in the stuff. In a matter of seconds, cool air was blowing into my face.

So far so good. At least good enough until we can take it to a dealership in Stone Mountain and let them use their fancy beeping devices on wheels to check it out.