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Ford Repair/AC condenser


QUESTION: The A/C condenser on my 98 Mustang has a hole in it. I'm pretty sure I can handle replacing it although I'm not sure what all I need to do in order to properly reinstall it and recharge the system. Your expertise would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: This job is not hard, but rather involved in what you have to remove. I suggest checking at your local library for a Chilton or other repair manual for your vehicle that can spell out the procedure. It is not possible for me to provide the details for you here.

Essentially the battery, battery tray, fan shroud, and radiator have to be removed or moved aside to get to the AC condenser. After you finish the installation, have the system evacuated and recharged by a shop qualified for that type of work as there are high pressures involved and a close tolerance for the capacity of the system. This involves equipment designed for the purpose that measures the exact amount of refrigerant. Capacity of your system is 34 ounces, and the system will require additional R134A specific oil since you are replacing a large part. I also recommend replacing the accumulator because of the dessicant inside that will have excess moisture due to the hole in the system.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your time, however I should have been more specific with my question. I am familiar with how to replace the part. I was hoping to get specific information on recharging the system itself. I have a universal system charging gauge and I noticed that R134a freon is sold with oil in the can already. Is it sufficient to charge the system this way or do I need to add additional oil separate from the refrigerant?  If so how is the additional oil added? Also being that the hole in the condenser is the size of a pin hole, do you think it would still be necessary to replace the accumulator and evacuate the system? If so how can I evacuate the system myself?

As a professional automotive technician, I am required to pass a test and be certified to service mobile AC systems. As a consumer, you can do what ever you want to an AC system. Can  you do it properly? Chances are on NO. The system needs to be evacuated to as close to 30"Hg as possible, at the same time confirming there are no leaks. Then oil and refrigerant can be added to fill the system to the proper charge of both.

Unless you are willing to spend $3K-6K for the right equipment, chances of getting the charge right are slim. The small cans I have seen hold 14 ounces, your system holds 34 ounces. I still believe you are better off to have a professional evacuate and charge the AC system for you.

Your choice, of course.  

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I am a retired Ford master tech specializing in electrical, climate control, emissions, driveability, chassis, brakes, and any light repairs. Cannot answer transmission, parts, or price questions, these are not areas of my expertise.


39 years of auto repair, diagnosis, and emissions testing, in service staions, independent garages, and 20 years with Ford dealers.

National Street Rod Association (NSRA)
International Automotive Technicians Network (IATN)
IAMAW (retired)

Riverside City College Automotive technology program
Ford Master Tech Certified Engine and Chassis Master (Over 500 hours)
ASE Certified in 7 categories
6 years training in Union 76 Pro-tech program

Awards and Honors
4-time Technician of the Year at Almaden Lincoln Mercury
Ford Master Tech
Union 76 Pro-tech Master tech

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