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Air Conditioning Woes

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I'm putting this under "General Discussion" to hopefully reach the most people. My '92's air conditioning doesn't blow cold at all. Took it in to a dealer...they did the dye test and said that it was leaking around the compressor. $1980 later I received the car...it is still not blowing cold. Dealer ran another diagnostic, discovered that it is leaking around the evaporator, and the new estimate to replace the evaporator is $3100 (apparently this involves essentially removing the dashboard and is 10+ hours of labor). I've had enough and am seriously considering just letting it go and not repairing it, but it sucks having a nice car without air conditioning in a locale where it gets hot. Finally, when I eventually decide to sell it, I'll take a sizable hit on the resale value of the car.

Any thoughts? Thanks.
 
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Any thoughts? Thanks.

You really need to do a trade off analysis before you decide to replace the evaporator. The dealership is correct, the dash needs to be removed in order to replace it, so a HUGE chunk of the cost will be labor. That being said, as someone that has recently torn two cars apart, including removing the dash of one and contemplating doing it on the second, there are a TON of screws, bolts, nuts that need to be kept organized. Not only that, the car is almost 30 years old so things WILL break as they take it apart if they aren't super careful, those items will need to be fixed/replaced as well and that can be costly and time consuming while waiting for parts to arrive. Your quote is $3k+ but you could be higher than that depending on what happens when things are pulled out and who is responsible for what.

All of that to say, there are probably only a handful of shops/mechanics in the US that I would trust to pull my dash out, if they have never done it before or haven't done it in years I'd probably just survive without A/C. If money is no issue and you're ok with the risks involved then go ahead and get it done if you need A/C.
 
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pbassjo, I'm in a suburb of Chicago. You would THINK that there would be no shortage of good NSX shops around here...and you would be wrong.

NSX_n00b, I share many of your thoughts. A couple of weeks ago I briefly discussed this issue with John Vasos, arguably the top NSX tech in the Midwest and among the best anywhere. He echoed your thoughts about the small, brittle plastic parts breaking...how much labor is involved (including removing the dash)...and left me with the ominous feeling that this is a "can of worms" that I really don't want anyone to open, including the most competent of NSX technicians. Even if I knew that nothing would go wrong during the repair, the cost is a deterrent; the thought of things snapping and breaking during the dash removal is, for me, probably the "final nail in the coffin".
 
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You really need to do a trade off analysis before you decide to replace the evaporator. The dealership is correct, the dash needs to be removed in order to replace it, so a HUGE chunk of the cost will be labor. That being said, as someone that has recently torn two cars apart, including removing the dash of one and contemplating doing it on the second, there are a TON of screws, bolts, nuts that need to be kept organized. Not only that, the car is almost 30 years old so things WILL break as they take it apart if they aren't super careful, those items will need to be fixed/replaced as well and that can be costly and time consuming while waiting for parts to arrive. Your quote is $3k+ but you could be higher than that depending on what happens when things are pulled out and who is responsible for what.

All of that to say, there are probably only a handful of shops/mechanics in the US that I would trust to pull my dash out, if they have never done it before or haven't done it in years I'd probably just survive without A/C. If money is no issue and you're ok with the risks involved then go ahead and get it done if you need A/C.

Great advice here.

The evap leak is a fairly common failure, especially on the 91-94 cars. Another thought is you can definitely DIY the dash removal and there may be Prime members nearby that can help you. If you can get the dash out, I would just send your entire HVAC unit to Joe G. in Florida. He completely rebuilds them for $400, including a new evaporator. He did mine and I was impressed. If the dealer does this job, it will cost at least $4,000 and they will only replace the evap. If you do it, it costs you $400, you get a brand new HVAC and maybe a week of the car being down.
 
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Great advice here.

The evap leak is a fairly common failure, especially on the 91-94 cars. Another thought is you can definitely DIY the dash removal and there may be Prime members nearby that can help you. If you can get the dash out, I would just send your entire HVAC unit to Joe G. in Florida. He completely rebuilds them for $400, including a new evaporator. He did mine and I was impressed. If the dealer does this job, it will cost at least $4,000 and they will only replace the evap. If you do it, it costs you $400, you get a brand new HVAC and maybe a week of the car being down.

Honcho, that's great information and were I a competent mechanic I might follow your advice. The extent of my experience in working on my car is to pull and replace the radio, and (with help) swap the exhaust, replace the window regulators, and change the oil. The thought of trying to pull the dash makes my skin crawl. But thanks!
 
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Something to consider.

Having gone through a complete strip to the shell rotisserie restoration on another car, removing the dash to allow removal of the Evap is not a job that requires a lot of technical knowledge. It will be a fair amount of work and it will require a garage with a decent work space to lay out / store parts as they are removed. Bag up screws and other small parts as they are removed with the major pieces and tape the bags (or mark them) to the piece with which they are associated to facilitate easy reassembly. A service manual is a must. Taking photos during dis assembly can facilitate re assembly.

I just helped another member with some work on his 1991. If you are careful (and slow) you can minimize / avoid breakage of plastic parts. If a tech is being held to a firm cost estimate they are not going to be careful and slow or they are going to pad the estimate to cover for going careful and slow. You can go as careful and slow as you want.

I neither advocate for you doing or not doing it yourself. I merely point out that it is a lot of work and time consuming; but, it is not technically complex work. It is certainly doable if you have basic tools and are not ham fisted.
 
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Something to consider.

Having gone through a complete strip to the shell rotisserie restoration on another car, removing the dash to allow removal of the Evap is not a job that requires a lot of technical knowledge. It will be a fair amount of work and it will require a garage with a decent work space to lay out / store parts as they are removed. Bag up screws and other small parts as they are removed with the major pieces and tape the bags (or mark them) to the piece with which they are associated to facilitate easy reassembly. A service manual is a must. Taking photos during dis assembly can facilitate re assembly.

I just helped another member with some work on his 1991. If you are careful (and slow) you can minimize / avoid breakage of plastic parts. If a tech is being held to a firm cost estimate they are not going to be careful and slow or they are going to pad the estimate to cover for going careful and slow. You can go as careful and slow as you want.

I neither advocate for you doing or not doing it yourself. I merely point out that it is a lot of work and time consuming; but, it is not technically complex work. It is certainly doable if you have basic tools and are not ham fisted.
Old Guy, I've read your posts on Prime for a long time and value what you say. It's tempting to try it myself, but I honestly have neither the patience nor the garage to try this. I guess that, unless I learn of someone who lives near Chicago who has the credibility/qualifications/experience to tackle this, I'll probably just let it go unrepaired.
 
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Old Guy, I've read your posts on Prime for a long time and value what you say. It's tempting to try it myself, but I honestly have neither the patience nor the garage to try this. I guess that, unless I learn of someone who lives near Chicago who has the credibility/qualifications/experience to tackle this, I'll probably just let it go unrepaired.

You may try reaching out to [MENTION=21633]Brylek[/MENTION] since he's in the Chicago area and has two beautiful 2002+ examples in his garage over the years. He may know of a good, well qualified tech in the area. He is very meticulous and would not let someone unqualified near his cars. Though he may have done any work himself as well, I'm not 100% sure.
 
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Old Guy, I've read your posts on Prime for a long time and value what you say. It's tempting to try it myself, but I honestly have neither the patience nor the garage to try this. I guess that, unless I learn of someone who lives near Chicago who has the credibility/qualifications/experience to tackle this, I'll probably just let it go unrepaired.

I can understand that.
 
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You may try reaching out to @Brylek since he's in the Chicago area and has two beautiful 2002+ examples in his garage over the years. He may know of a good, well qualified tech in the area. He is very meticulous and would not let someone unqualified near his cars. Though he may have done any work himself as well, I'm not 100% sure.
Paul Brylek is a friend of mine, and the "go-to" guy whom we (as well as many others in the Chicago area) use is John Vasos up in Milwaukee. And, as I mentioned, it was John recently who basically echoed your comments about performing a trade off analysis. I really would like to have the a/c working again, but the cost coupled with the magnitude of the job... Perhaps I'll give John one more call. I'll post on here if anything changes. Thanks to all for the responses! I really do appreciate the feedback.
 
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Your problem was not correctly diagnosed and the price for a compressor is very high. There is no way I would change your evaporator based on this dealers suggestion.

The system has many components that interact but it is not hard to understand.

Being a 1992 I would of changed to a 134a system. When I did this for my customers they would get a NAPA 134a compressor w/clutch, drier, o rings as needed, new fittings, a solvent flush of the system, new belt and recharge w/oil. Out the door about 1400.00 and blows ice cubes.

IMO you need a repair shop that understands or is willing to put some reading time to know what's what. It's not hard unless you're in a hurry and don't care. I strongly suggest you DO NOT install new evaporator based on this dealers recommend. Get yourself a genuine NSX service manual and take that and the car to another shop where they can think and diagnose. This "we replace stuff until we solve the problem" stuff is unprofessional nonsense. Do some research but don't go back. Find a smart shop that will take pride in solving your problem. There are several checks that need to be done before replacing parts. Sorry you are not closer. Source 1 in Ohio?
I wish that I lived closer to you! I'd bring it by as soon as you could fit me into your schedule! FWIW, the system has been changed from the original to the 134a. Before the recent work, I had a different dealership diagnose it and said it was the evaporator as well, but I'm open to other opinions (that's why I sought a second opinion!). Source 1 is a haul from here but not out of the question. I've heard of a shop in my local area where they work on all kinds of high end sports cars, i.e. the Italian stuff. Unsure about NSX's. I'd fork over $1400 if I knew beyond a reasonable doubt that the problem would be fixed.
 
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I had a discussion with Ramon of Niguel motors about the dreaded evaporator replacement for my 92, and he said that he doesn’t want to take on that kind of job due to the chances of breaking small, brittle pieces.

I don’t blame him as a professional who gets paid (and has to pay) by the hour. One of these days I will pull out my evaporator and send to Joe G for refurb.

The hardest part for me is timing of having the car apart for an undetermined time, in my driveway.

No doubt (almost) that my evap is leaking. I put a halogen leak detector all around and it goes ape crazy out the vents, which really is a shame. But it happens.
 
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The dealer is total waste of time and money since they basically wish any car more than 10 years would just disappear ( unless, of course, they run into someone with more money than sense ). Since you are already converted to 134A why not just charge it up and see how long it lasts. I have had cars that blow cold all summer - next year I just “ rinse and repeat “. It’s cheap to do, has a good probability of working, and doesn’t break all the frail NLA plastic parts. As an aside I am considering wasting my old car time and money in the future on cars with a minimum of planned obsolescence plastic parts and working on cars with lots of metal parts.
 
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The dealer is total waste of time and money since they basically wish any car more than 10 years would just disappear ( unless, of course, they run into someone with more money than sense ). Since you are already converted to 134A why not just charge it up and see how long it lasts. I have had cars that blow cold all summer - next year I just “ rinse and repeat “. It’s cheap to do, has a good probability of working, and doesn’t break all the frail NLA plastic parts. As an aside I am considering wasting my old car time and money in the future on cars with a minimum of planned obsolescence plastic parts and working on cars with lots of metal parts.

I tried that for my leak, but a refill lasted about 15 minutes! My leak is a huge, gross leak.
 
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I have some pictures from my car audio guy who removed the dash so I could redo it and I asked him how bad it was, his answer was- it is not that bad, just lots of small screws/bolts. I’m not sure exactly what is involved but he said basically it’s just takes some time, nothing too complicated.
 
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I have some pictures from my car audio guy who removed the dash so I could redo it and I asked him how bad it was, his answer was- it is not that bad, just lots of small screws/bolts. I’m not sure exactly what is involved but he said basically it’s just takes some time, nothing too complicated.

Agree. Having done this several times, it's not difficult- it's just time-consuming. Just take pictures, bag and label as you go.
 
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The biggest hints for removing the dash:
1. Plenty of time, if you are rushed do not do the job. The plastic bits are expensive and often NLA and can take a long time to remove and may require special tools you need to acquire in process.
2. Plenty of space to store fragile interior parts and seats. The trunk is good for many. Have a lot of towels on hand to wrap parts so they don't get scratched.
3. Wrap your e-brake and steering wheel with thick material/towel and tape. Very easy to scratch, especially the ebrake.
4. Dropping/installing the steering column should have two people as it is VERY easy to break the bottom of the dash. Do not underestimate how easy it is to break the dash.
5. Consider having your cluster and CCU rebuilt.
6. Shinetsu 08798-9013 the front of the dash to reduce squeaks on reassembly.
 
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6. Shinetsu 08798-9013 the front of the dash to reduce squeaks on reassembly.

Honda used to sell something called Tricot tape for this express purpose (plastic on plastic noises). It was sort of like the fuzzy side of a Vecro strip except thinner. The part number is 71985-SF1-000. However, it looks like it might be discontinued because some vendors list it while others don't. There is also something called slip tape with Honda part number 70200-ALL-999 which is for the same purpose (but not fuzzy?). Unfortunately it is about $65 - $90 per role depending on who you buy it from. 3M also has 3M 5430 squeak reduction tape. Pricey; but, less than the Honda product if you purchase from Digi Key.

The up side to the tape versus the silicone grease is that it will not collect and trap dust over a couple of years of use. The tricot tape was nice because it was thick and sort of filled in / cushioned small gaps between pieces. I have no experience with the slip / squeak reduction tapes.
 
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Hi all I have a similar problem with my 91’ NSX, my dash where it shows my climate control is very dim, and it doesn’t blow hot or cold air and not sure what it can be..I hear Brian K is a master at this if anyone knows how to get a hold of the master plz help thanks!
 

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Hi all I have a similar problem with my 91’ NSX, my dash where it shows my climate control is very dim, and it doesn’t blow hot or cold air and not sure what it can be..I hear Brian K is a master at this if anyone knows how to get a hold of the master plz help thanks!
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Check your dryer/desiccant! I had a dealer diagnose a plugged expansion valve (requiring a dash removal, 1991) for way too many $s! I found a way to replace the part through the firewall and it did NOT fix the issue (would have been big wasted money). I then started reading/studying ac systems and got an IR thermometer. Frankly, the failure to cool was intermittent at first but ultimately became fatal.
I admit that it took a few weeks of frustration and daily thought but I discovered a plugged dryer and ~$100 later plus a new Freon charge and its been good (knock on wood) for literally 10 years.
 
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