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I’m driving a 1992 Honda Accord LX, 4cyl, MT, 167k miles, with no air conditioning... I’d like some guidance and/or pointers on how to fix my A/C; the relevant car and troubleshooting history is as follows:

I bought this car last fall, and the seller of the car told me about, and showed me receipts for, a complete repair of the A/C system including a new compressor and a retrofit from R-12 to R-134a. Two shops, a retrofit and bypass switch for the main A/C switch, a compressor, a junkyard ECM and junkyard HVAC controls set later, the seller sold it to me as a working system. I didn’t check it as well as I probably should have - it was November after all when I bought the car.

I discovered not long after vehicle purchase that one of the two front cooling fans was completely seized... although the engine never to my knowledge had any issue with overheating (I’ve never seen the temp gauge go above 40%), this gave me concern about the A/C system. I have since replaced this fan and it’s blown fuse and verified it now works.

But in the time since, I managed to get the compressor to turn on one time a couple months ago for a short time - I didn’t get much cold air because as I discovered a couple months later (a month ago from now) the system was very low on refrigerant (tested by a quick poke of the low pressure schrader valve). Although I realize you have to take static A/C pressures with a grain of salt (my compressor wasn’t turning on at all last month), I first suspected a low pressure lockout, therefore I used a refrigerant can with a gauge on it to put more R-134a in, being careful not to exceed the pressure caution zones on the gauge, hoping to make the compressor come on but to no avail...

At this point, I bought a set of A/C manifold gauges to get better measurements and enable more repairs later. According to a couple static pressure readings last month, a week apart, the system seems to be holding pressure but it’s too hard to tell. I pulled the power connector off the compressor and verified by voltmeter that power gets to the compressor any time I turn the bypass switch on when the engine is running.

Therefore I’m left to conclude that the A/C electrical system is okay but I most likely need a new compressor, and of course a new receiver/dryer, but I’m debating on replacing the condenser as well. What are your thoughts on this?

My plan going forward is to spray all A/C lines I can access with soapy water to check for leaks to see what else needs repair or replacing, while I still have pressurized refrigerant in the system. Once I find those, I plan to order the parts and then have the system professionally evacuated so repairs can begin. I’ll get a vacuum pump as a loaner from my local auto parts store and use my manifold gauges to refill the system. Does anyone have any other pointers or things I may have missed here?

Also, since my system originally used R-12, the factory fill sticker calls the refrigerant amount for R-12 (800 grams or so). What would be an equivalent amount of R-134a? I’ve read several places to use 70-80% of the original R-12 amount in R-134a but can anyone back this up?

Thanks so much for your help and reading this!
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