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A/C questions. Evaporator & Compressor - Fair Prices? DIY?

Joined
28 September 2003
Messages
354
Location
Honolulu Hawaii
AC went warm. Took it to local Acura dealership to diagnose/fix. They charged me $101.02 for the kit to switch from R-12 to R-134a plus another $99.00 for labor. Then they charged me another $99.00 to do a "leak/performance test" and another $43.00 for freon.

Diagnosis was the evaporator coil & drier need to be replaced. They quoted me $1,936.00 installed.

Also, they said the compressor was leaking and also need to be replaced. Quote on that was another $1,431.00.

$3,500 for an AC fix?!?

Are these prices fair? What kind of price could I buy the parts for myself? Any reason this couldn't be a DIY install now that I know what parts I need to replace? I've had the interior of the car apart myself down to the dash. Only thing left would have been the steering column & dash. Now are those two parts of the interior all that difficult? What about the evaporator once I get the dash apart? Could I do this over a weekend? I'm mechanically very competent, but never actually worked on an AC system.

How about the compressor? Much harder to get to IMO from what I've seen laying under the car. I was thinking the big crossmember under the car might have to come out. Any advice on trying the compressor myself?

Aside from the evaporator, drier, & compressor, what other parts would I need when doing this? Any special tools necessary? Since the car is a 1991, would you suggest changing anything else while the car is apart?

If it's too much to tacle myself, I was thinking of just ordering the parts myself from one of the guys I buy from normally. He gives me a very good deal straight from Acura, where my local dealership normally slaps you for full pop on parts (and I'm assuming they are doing just that in my quote). I can always just order what's needed and take it to my mechanic who normally works on the car. His labor rate is less than the dealership too and he worked there a long time before starting his own shop. He owned an NSX before and has worked on mine as well as the many that came through the dealership, so he is experienced with the car. I didn't this time since he was booked and my AC was HOT. I wanted quick results, but only found disappointment. But I could schedule something with him this time if needed since I'll have to wait for parts to ship anyways.

Any help or ideas would be really helpful. Thanks!
 
Let me try to give you some insight, coz i have been down the route you mention.
Can't comment to much on the pricing, coz we pay different rates for parts and labour here, and knowledge on NSX and AC systems at dealerships in general is far less then in the US.

AC went warm. Took it to local Acura dealership to diagnose/fix. They charged me $101.02 for the kit to switch from R-12 to R-134a plus another $99.00 for labor. Then they charged me another $99.00 to do a "leak/performance test" and another $43.00 for freon.

As far as i know, the mysterious conversion kit is nothing more then 2 adapters which screw on the filling plugs, so that the new R134a system can be connected to the old R12 charging system (i call it mysterious, coz there always seems to be a debate what is included in the kit, or maybe there are different kits?).
I tried to get a orignal NSX conversion kit at the time here in holland, but wasn't able to, they simply don't have them here at Honda. When i spoke to some parts guys at Acura dealerships in the US, they told me this information, which is exactly what has been upgraded on my AC to go from R12 to R134a. If i remember correctly the guys in the US asked about 64$ for the set at the time, but this was a few years back.
My AC guy put a set on for free. Installation time was about 1 nanosecond.
But maybe there is more to the kit, since your dealer charges some serious.

Diagnosis was the evaporator coil & dryer need to be replaced. They quoted me $1,936.00 installed.

Apparently the coil rubs against some soft linning in the box its build into, which causes very small leaks at the side of the coil (common, might not be your problem though). There are three options, repair the holes, or replace the coil with a new one, or replace the coil with a used one.
The price you was quoted exists out of a few parts, which is the parts and labour.....
Look here for an impresion how much work it is. I did it myself as well, and i would do it again, but its a lot of work. At the time i was quoted about 1000 euro's for the new coil from the dealer ($1260), so at that time i got the ac guys to repair the coil with epoxy, which did turn out a god job, coz its still going well.
In the link you can read about time, so you get an idea where the cost is comming from.
The dryer is just stupid expensive for the NSX. Maybe you can get an aftermarket dryer, which i couldn't at the time, so i got the genuine dryer from honda which set me back about another $310.

Also, they said the compressor was leaking and also need to be replaced. Quote on that was another $1,431.00.

A leaking AC compressor is not very common on the NSX afaik, but its possible. You can get all sorts of revision sets for AC compressors, so maybe thats an option. I had to replace my compressor, and i took another compressor apart, and mixed and matched parts from the 2 of them, and that worked just fine.

$3,500 for an AC fix?!?

If your lucky, this will be it, if your unlucky it can cost even more
As i explained above, i took on a few parts the short route. Repairing the coil, repairing the compressor. Thats something i normally don't do. I only replace parts with genuine parts from Honda, but the cost of the AC parts pissed me off so much, that i went the short route on this one.

Are these prices fair? What kind of price could I buy the parts for myself?

I got parts from ERZ, but that went a nightmare. Repairing as an option.

Any reason this couldn't be a DIY install now that I know what parts I need to replace? I've had the interior of the car apart myself down to the dash. Only thing left would have been the steering column & dash. Now are those two parts of the interior all that difficult? What about the evaporator once I get the dash apart? Could I do this over a weekend? I'm mechanically very competent, but never actually worked on an AC system.

Its not that difficult, just work organized, slow and carefull.

How about the compressor? Much harder to get to IMO from what I've seen laying under the car. I was thinking the big crossmember under the car might have to come out. Any advice on trying the compressor myself?

Replacing the compressor does indeed involve taking the crossmember out, but its not to bad, just some wrenching in some difficult places, but it shouldn't take you more then a half a day with the correct tools.
Don't forget to disconnect the AC-clutch wire before unbolting the compressor.

Aside from the evaporator, drier, & compressor, what other parts would I need when doing this? Any special tools necessary? Since the car is a 1991, would you suggest changing anything else while the car is apart?

Inspect the system for particals, and get the system cleaned before recharging.

If it's too much to tacle myself, I was thinking of just ordering the parts myself from one of the guys I buy from normally. He gives me a very good deal straight from Acura, where my local dealership normally slaps you for full pop on parts (and I'm assuming they are doing just that in my quote). I can always just order what's needed and take it to my mechanic who normally works on the car. His labor rate is less than the dealership too and he worked there a long time before starting his own shop. He owned an NSX before and has worked on mine as well as the many that came through the dealership, so he is experienced with the car. I didn't this time since he was booked and my AC was HOT. I wanted quick results, but only found disappointment. But I could schedule something with him this time if needed since I'll have to wait for parts to ship anyways.

Its a great DIY, but i'd say get a quote for al the parts you need first, put that asside the price you have been quoted from the dealer, and decide if its worth the savings.
I personally would do it again myself next time, but 1 of the main reasons for that is that i do not trust other people with wrenches and screwdrivers in my car, especially behind the dash.
 
I just replaced My evaporator,drier and compressor for under $1000.00 in parts. The compressor was a rebuild from Airco $159.00 and the other parts were new,(Delray Acura) approx $650 . Its not a big deal to change the compressor all you need are jack stands , hand tools & a service manual. The evaporator takes a lot of disassembly and patience but it really is straightforward. Figure on 10 hours for the evap job and 3-4 max for the compressor and drier job.

Hope this helps, Chris.
 
I just did my evap too--check out pics in the technical section. I bought the evap new from Delray Acura for $446 shipped. The conversion to R134 was two adapters which my A/C tech friend gave me and it took 30 seconds to install. The dryer is ~ $100 list from Acura, but I got a generic that fits perfectly for $20--any A/C parts place has them--you don't need to buy this from Honda at a crazy price, but we do need to pay the crazy price for the evaps.....It took me 9.5 hours, and I was scared of it before I started, but was able to do it--sore neck and back are the only issues so far.

I don't think the compressors go bad too often, but I'm sure you can get them much more reasonably priced.
 
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