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I stupidly released some refrigerant

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015 Taurus Limited, 3.5L. Doing the 100,000mi radiator flush (no chemicals and in the dark of night) and all online advice said the drain was on the driver’s side. All I can find is a hex plug (never seen one like that). So I turn it until I hear a hiss and small drip. Odd… I make sure I had the cap off the fill tank, then come back and give it a quick spin. A gush of vapor and fluid hits my arm and I REACT as if badly burned. Fumble…. and …throw…the wrench… then realized its actually COLD COLD COLD!!! 1 second later I realize my mistake and eventually fumble the wrench back in and tighten up the drain plug ….. for the condenser….SMH. I head gas balancing out in the system after I tightened the plug. Finished the flush but now I got a bigger problem.

I lost quite a bit of gas and the catch pan had an ounce or two of green fluid (I’m guessing the oil). I know I’m banned from AC for a while so Ill either run full blast heat (HI) or turn the climate control off until I can get this fixed. I don’t know how much refrigerant I lost and how much was actually compressor oil. I have done my own AC work on cheap vehicles with success (AC PRO + Oil), but this is my “nicest” car ever so I don’t want to damage or goof up anything else. Obviously no air got in the system, but I’m definitely low on something. I have not turned the AC on to see if it’s cold or not.

1   Is it safe to drive as long as I don’t use the AC?

2   Is it safe to use the heat on HI?

3   Would much lubricant be in the condenser or was that green fluid just liquid state R134a that had not evaporated yet? 40degress F ambient temperature. Car was pointing steeply downhill and had been off from AC use for about 45 minutes.

4   I understand the AC cycle, am an engineer, but also understand I don’t have the tools to measure what I actually have left vs what I need (1.43lb R134a + 5.2oz oil per manual ). If the green fluid was just liquid state R-134a I should be able to just use a can of AC PRO. It was 40-45F outside.

5   Should I just eat the cost and take it to the dealership or a local shop? I’m guessing they would drain it and start over so they know what is in it.

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Honestly, if you can, unplug the compressor if you're going to drive the car. I only say that simply because it takes one errant press of a button to kick on the compressor. That said, depending on how much refrigerant leaked out, the compressor may not even cycle on. My concern would be with the lack of oil. The green fluid is the PAG oil. R134a is not going to be a liquid at room temperature at normal atmospheric pressure. You can get away running just the heat though. I'm not sure how the '15s work, but I know in my cars, turning on the defroster will engage the A/C compressor, so that's why I'd recommend just unplugging it. I know there's still a few good cold days remaining where defrost is a good idea.

Personally, I'd have the system evacuated, oil added, and properly recharged. It really doesn't take much to get air in the system, even if you're just purging refrigerant on accident. Unless you're doing all your A/C work yourself, if a shop starts having to actually replace hard parts, it gets expensive quick. Most recharging services aren't that expensive though.


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OP here

So I tried 2 times to get my car looked at but everything is so busy the best they could offer was to leave it and they might get to it in a few hours…..I’m too busy to give up my car and bum rides that much. I often have to drive to another plant across town with no warning.

So the ambient temp was 75F and I knew that was a sweet spot. So I decided to do it myself for the convenience. YES, I wanted to go to a pro as recommended but …LIFE.

Ambient 76F. Vent temp on MAX AC is 60F. AC fan on low is 44F. Low side read 32psi with “AC PRO” nozzle – hey better than nothing. I don’t have gauges for High side L. Really not bad. Online chart says it should be 40-45psi low side.

Added a 3oz bottle of PAG46 (actually 1oz 46, 1 oz mystery crap, 1 oz R134a). Since I soaked up the spilled oil with a few paper towels I figure this is plenty of oil. I estimate 1 oz after refilling the pan from a kitchen measuring cup of water to the same level as the oil lost.

Then added part of a 12oz can of R134a but never could get the pressure to over 40psi. Also not sure how much went in as I later dumped the rest of that can in a Buick.

Final result:

Ambient 76F. Vent temp on MAX AC is 56F. AC fan on low is 41F. Low side read 39-40psi. 4F drop in MAC AC vent temp and 3F drop in AC temp on low fan. Time will tell if I estimated the amount of oil properly.

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