By Steve Schaeber, MACS manager of service training
It’s been quite a busy year in mobile A/C, and not just because of the long, hot summer season that started here on 5/26 (our first heat wave) and ended on 9/23. We also saw the most introductions of new vehicles that use R-1234yf refrigerant than any year prior (and we expect to see even more next year). There’s also EPA’s new Rule # 21 (which you can read about here at https://macsworldwide.wordpress.com/) as well as a new SAE Standard that’s in the works for HD & Off-Road A/C.
To chronicle the roll out of the new refrigerant, we’ve been watching the OEMs as they deliver their newest platforms to dealers by visiting some of those near MACS headquarters. We knew ahead of time about some of the cars we saw, but the new models are coming out so fast that it’s hard to keep up! We’ve seen new models at Dodge and Chrysler, Chevrolet and Honda, Ford and GMC, and we’re still not done!
We’ve also been working with IGSD (the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development) to develop and update a list of those vehicles that use HFO (hydrofluoroolefin) refrigerant. We publish the updated list periodically on the MACS WordPress BLOG. Just type R-1234yf in the search box.
After looking at so many different yf A/C systems, we began to notice something that we didn’t expect to see, and that’s vehicles that use R-1234yf but don’t use an IHX (inline heat exchanger). With all the news and talk about how R-1234yf is not quite as efficient as R-134a (which also is not as efficient as R-12), we expected that every vehicle using yf would also use an IHX, but that’s certainly not the case. Sure, we saw them in many of the smaller cars like the Honda Civic and Chevy Malibu, but when it comes to the bigger ones like Toyota’s Tacoma and Honda’s Ridgeline, they don’t have an IHX. We’ll have to dig a bit deeper, but for now we suspect the reason is because of what we saw in front of those larger trucks, and that’s a HUGE condenser. Not only is the condenser huge dimensionally, but the one we saw on GMC’s Acadia packs the tubes and fins tighter than we’ve seen on others.
This year also brought us the creation of a new WIP (Work in Progress) Standard by SAE’s HFTC6 Committee (Human Factors Technical Committee), chaired by MACS Member Robert Brocx of RedDot. It’s been assigned as J3126, “Air Conditioning Service Procedures for Heavy duty and Off-Highway work Machines using R-134a refrigerant.” This new standard will provide technicians for the first time with recommended service practices, safe and efficient techniques and general equipment recommendations for servicing MAC systems in HD & Off-Road equipment. The concept for this standard was first discussed during a meeting at MACS 2016 in Orlando, and approved in subsequent meetings of the Committee. We’re glad they’re working on this standard and can’t wait to see the first drafts. It’s been needed for a long time to help technicians who work on these specialty systems, particularly in the areas of field service, cabin filtration and leak testing among others.
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Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend MACS 2017 Training Event and Trade Show, February 15-18 at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, CA.
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