When I purchased my '63 Cadillac 11 months ago, it had ice cold a/c with an R12 system.  The seller advised me that it needed to be "topped off" every year or so.  For the small amount of driving that I did with it in the summer months (when it wasn't tied up in the shop for other repairs), I did notice the temps from the vents getting gradually warmer.  I also noted that while traveling at highway speeds, even when things were working properly, the air would become much warmer until I slowed back down to city driving speeds.  I attributed that to a vacuum related issue, and wasn't too concerned about it for the amount of highway driving that I do.

By the end of summer, I was getting outside air temperature inside the car, even though the compressor clutch was engaged.  Now that temps are warming up again, I took it to my mechanic, who had recently purchased a small stock of R12.  He topped it off, and when I headed home and noticed no difference, I used an infra-red thermometer to measure the temps of the air coming out of the vents, and found them to be the same as the ambient temps outside, about 67 - 72 degrees.  I called him last week to ask if he had done either a dye or sniff test, and that's when he told me that he didn't have the  proper recovery equipment, and only added a can or two to whatever remained in the system. While I was examining the system at home this week before calling him, I noted that there is no activity in the sight glass of the dehydrator receiver, even though the compressor clutch is cycling properly whenever I engage the a/c. I have an appointment for next Wednesday to see what the next step is.  His suggestion over the phone is that "maybe the compressor is bad."

Over the past couple of days, I have called a number of auto a/c shops in the area, and no one does R12 anymore.  The one guy who still has the equipment to do it can't find product anywhere.  My question to you guys is if it is time to bite the bullet and make the switch to R134a?  I would like to keep my 34,000 mile car in as original condition as possible, but the time is probably near when R12 will no longer be available anywhere, so I'm concerned about funneling money into maintaining this system only for its originality. 

I did read the great articles on this site in the "help" column related to this subject, but since it was posted back in 2016-2017, I'm sure a lot has changed since then.  I appreciate any updated thoughts on this, and my apologies for being so long winded.


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Thanks Tony.  Every AC shop in my area that I've spoken to has offered to do a conversion to 134a, so that isn't a problem.  I'm still sitting on the fence, as I have read that 134a is being phased out and replaced with a new refrigerant, so I don't want to have to go through the process twice over the next few years.

I did look at Old Air Products website after reading your reply yesterday, and was a little disappointed in how it was laid out.  Once you enter the year, make and model of your vehicle, you are linked to a page with dozens of individual AC parts that are available for that car, but no "package" consisting of the parts that would be needed to do the conversion. I guess a phone call to them would solve that issue, but it just seems to be one more step that could have been avoided.

I spoke with a CLC member at a regional meet yesterday who told me he uses a refrigerant in his '60 Cadillac that is not R12, and doesn't require any type of modification to the AC system, so I will be getting some more information on that from him this week. 

I could be wrong Tony, but my understanding is that R12 is not illegal to use, but you have to have a license to purchase it (if you can find it), and must have the proper recovery equipment to prevent it from being released into the atmosphere when you are discharging/recharging the AC system.  And of course it can no longer be manufactured. But the day will come when the dwindling supply of NOS and recaptured R12 will run out, and the price of it will be crazier than it is now as we approach that point..



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