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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bought this 2005 325Ci convertible 2+ years ago with 87K miles on it and I love it. Had to replace an internally leaking rear view mirror. Other than that, it's been perfect and I love the car, especially since we moved to FL. I had the car shipped and the first day I drove it in FL, the A/C stopped putting out cold air. Brought it to a local shop that specializes in German cars (the nearest BMW dealer is 40 minutes away) and they diagnosed a bad Schrader valve which they replaced and then recharged the system adding dye. When I picked the car up, they said to bring the car back if I have any problem with the A/C and they'll fix it for nothing. Sure surprised me. I looked in the excellent set of repair records that came with the car and noticed that the Schrader valve had been replaced before about 20K miles before I got the car. Took the car out the other day and guess what. No cold air. There is no sign of any dye around the Schrader valve. I don't see any coolant on the garage floor. I've never had to replace an A/C Schrader valve before on any car. Has anyone got any ideas? I've got an appointment tomorrow with the same shop and, amazingly, they volunteered that there would be no charge for the repair. The cynic in me says I'll believe that when I see it. All thoughts are welcome. Thanks.
 

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Just because a parts been changed doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t fail again, especially if cheap aftermarket parts are used.

And it’s possible you could have more than one leak in your ac system, and now you’ll find the next one with the dye.

Either way seems like the shop will sort it out for you, and any leak will be found easily with the dye they added
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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Service ports (schrader valves) are a somewhat common leak.
You will not "see coolant" as the cooling media (Freon) is a gas that disappears into the atmosphere. One needs a UV light to see the fluorescent dye.

Typically the most common leak (by far) is the evaporator (A/C Radiator buried inside the dashboard) itself. Most are just annoying, requiring a refill every year. Sounds like your leak is much larger than that.

I'd be curious as to what they find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the great responses. Just got the word from the garage. They saw no visible freon leak which means the leak is internal to the evaporator or compressor. They can't tell which without taking them apart. So, here are the choices. I replace both the evaporator and compressor and lots of other stuff once everything is taken apart at a cost of $5.3K. That will fix the problem and probably last for the remaining life of the car. Or, I can roll the dice and hope it's the evaporator in which case it'll be about $1.2K for the job. Of course, even if I luck out and it is the evaporator, the compressor could fail the next day. Or, I can keep the car A/C-less in FL and enjoy it during fall, winter and spring. The irony of that choice is not lost on me. Before we moved to FL, the car spent RI winters in the garage. Or, I can sell it for about $2-4K if I'm lucky and either forget about my dream Bimmer or try to find another one whose A/C is likely to fail when it hits 10 years old (according to the BMW dealership that my shop consulted). The BMW dealership says, a few months ago they had 75 A/C evaporators/compressors in Stock. They are now on back order. It seems they've had a rather significant number of failed A/C systems lately. The first question they asked my garage guy was, is the car more than 10 years old?
 

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Not sure if what i’m saying is possible but im just throwing ideas out there. After removing the final stage resistor, or the blower motor, the evaporator is visible. On a dark night with a UV torch you might be able to see leaks in there if any are present.

It’s not much work to remove either part and it is definitely a DIYable job.


here’s some info on those jobs
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just another thought. While it may sound sacrilegious to do this to a BMW, what do you think about trying an A/C sealer as shown in the following videos?



What do I have to lose? Would this increase the cost of doing a proper fix (evaporator and compressor) if it fails? The most "practical" options appear to be the following.
1) Pay $5.3K and have both the evaporator and compressor replaced.
2) Pay $1.2K and have the evaporator replaced and try the sealer shown in the videos if it doesn’t.
3) Try the sealer and if it doesn't work have the evaporator replaced for $1.2K (the reverse of 2 above).
4) Try the sealer and replace both the evaporator and compressor if it doesn't work (can't see myself doing this - like my marriage too much).
5) Sell the car for whatever I can get for it and use the empty garage bay to work on my golf game.

One important question: if I try the sealer and it doesn't work, am I any worse off than I am now?
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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We've added R-134A stop leak into some cars with success. However those had slow leaks. (A/C would start to underperform in a month) I do not think that will fix a leak of his (presumed) size?
He has nothing to loose....
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We've added R-134A stop leak into some cars with success. However those had slow leaks. (A/C would start to underperform in a month) I do not think that will fix a leak of his (presumed) size?
He has nothing to loose....
I would think my leak would be considered slow. I had the A/C charged on April 25 and the A/C worked fine until June 17.
 

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Give it a go. The hardest part is evacuating the system and then filling with the correct amount out of those stupid little cans.
Adding a charge on top of static air, will leave the system with less of an ability to cool properly in Florida summers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just spoke to the guy at my BMW garage and sent him some YouTube videos and excerpts from E46 Fanatics including the name of the product that had a 75% success rate. He agreed that I have nothing to lose by trying. I would describe my leak as quite slow. The last charge lasted from May 2 to ca. June 15 (6 weeks). He said that, even with a waiver, its against shop policy to use sealers on A/C systems. He recommended that I wait until the A/C gets warm again (they did recharge it at no cost - wow!) and then use the freon with sealer. My wife, aka, the Saint. just said, "Look, you've wanted this car all your life. You just joined the Convertible Car Club. Spend the money and have it done right." I'm more blessed than I deserve. Heading to pick the car up now. It should be fine for my brother's visit next week. And when it fails, I'll use the sealer and see what happens. Thanks again for all the great responses.
 

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2005 330xi Auto, 2006 330ci Vert Auto
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Just spoke to the guy at my BMW garage and sent him some YouTube videos and excerpts from E46 Fanatics including the name of the product that had a 75% success rate. He agreed that I have nothing to lose by trying. I would describe my leak as quite slow. The last charge lasted from May 2 to ca. June 15 (6 weeks). He said that, even with a waiver, its against shop policy to use sealers on A/C systems. He recommended that I wait until the A/C gets warm again (they did recharge it at no cost - wow!) and then use the freon with sealer. My wife, aka, the Saint. just said, "Look, you've wanted this car all your life. You just joined the Convertible Car Club. Spend the money and have it done right." I'm more blessed than I deserve. Heading to pick the car up now. It should be fine for my brother's visit next week. And when it fails, I'll use the sealer and see what happens. Thanks again for all the great responses.
Since no one asked, I will :). Are you a DIY'er or do you always use a shop? The answer affects the recommendations that you would get on this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I used to do stuff like this but my vision now prevents me from doing this kind of work.
Let me be more specific. There was never a time when I would take an engine apart. But I used to do brakes, oil changes and other minor stuff. My vision prevents me from doing that now.
 

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Ac a common issue on these cars?
I would say "no". The 10 year estimate (+/-) is about right for any car before the compressor wears out, a seal randomly leaks or the condenser corrodes through the tubing (especially areas with road salt). I'm going to jinx ourselves, but our 2005 325Ci AC is still working and it is 17 years old but it was garage kept and only has 63k miles. 2009 VW Tiguan 167k miles, 13 years before the compressor seized.1995 Ford Probe GT 105k miles and 16 years before the compressor failed and some seal dumped all of the compressor oil out. 2000 BMW M Roadster, this one had a weak AC system when I picked it up (used). It only lasted 10 years and about 85k miles
 

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I had a career in HVAC for a while, and I'll apologize for not having read all the thread here .. but I have a couple questions.
1.) Was the AC working when you drove it home from the shop?
2.) Has the disiduous earth filter ever been replaced in your log (aka dryer) ?
3.) Has any other work been done on your AC ever?

The BMW AC is one of the simplest ever.

So you want to eliminate obvious electrical, confirm there IS a leak , and determine if the pressure sensor is allowing the compressor to engage.

So I would do a reality check before anything else. (because I don't know anything about the shop)

Start car, turn on ac to full.
1.) locate the compressor (you can look down at it from the passenger front). Observe if both pulley and center of pulley are spinning.
-if both are spinning you don't have much of a leak. There's about 20 oz of gas there. Its gone fast if you have even a small leak. The center of the compressor won't engage (turn) if the pressure is low, or if the fuse is popped even when you have the AC "on" . We can be fairly sure they checked the fuse but if the engages you have both electric AND gas leak eliminated.

So what else is there?
- a moisture / dryer problem
This happens when moisture finds its way in to the system. It freezes in the expansion valve and won't let freon flow.
The job of the dryer is to catch & retain that moisture before it gets that far. Your car is aging gracefully, but we all forget there's a dryer in there, with 2 O rings for the hoses that eventually leak. , its in front under the passenger fender if I recall).

- non functional Expansion valve

I would remove the shraeder cover and very briefly push on the tripper (1.4 second) Did you hear gas come out?
they may have told you .. but you didn't mention if any gas was actually gone from the prior day's fill. Maybe if u r friendly with them I would ask.

I don't know if I helped .. but I hope so.


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