Auto Service World
Feature   April 2, 2002   by Tom Brown, Centennial College School of Transportation

Special Report 2002: Mechanic in a Can?

New products that seal and lubricate have been on the market long enough to become well known to the trade. Do they really work?


Its all the rage today: add a chemical to the customer’s A/C system, charge it up and let it go! Sealants and additives have made an impact on the A/C repair industry since their introduction two years ago.

Sealants

These products claim to seal leaks in A/C components. Many repair shops simply shoot in the sealer, charge it up and send it out, a quick way to run $250 through the till. In fact, there are thousands of vehicles driving around today that were fixed that way. But does it work? What are the drawbacks? We tested Cliplight’s Super Seal Pro. Mr. Jack Brass, President of Cliplight supplied the product.

What makes it work?

Sealers generally have two components. One part swells seals and the other hardens when it comes in contact with moisture. By adding the product to an A/C system, it circulates with the refrigerant and oil and when it leaks out the hole, the cooling caused as it leaks condenses the water vapour in the air, which provides the moisture to activate the sealant. Then it turns hard (polymerizes) and plugs the hole.

Does it Work?

Follow the directions. First, the instructions say to first see if the system holds vacuum. That determines if the hole is small enough to be sealed. If the system won’t hold the vacuum indicated by the instructions, find the leak (should be easy) and replace the leaky part.

What leaks won’t seal up?

It will not seal a compressor shaft seal as the hardened sealant has the effect of clinging to the shaft and interrupting the grip of the seal.

Precautions:

Because the leak stopper hardens with moisture, its necessary to make sure the system is DRY- DRY- DRY. If it activates inside the system, it will turn the oil to GOO.

Replace the receiver-dryer or accumulator to ensure there is no moisture in the system.

Blow out the system with nitrogen before vacuuming

Make sure open hoses are sealed while waiting for parts, compressors included.

Sealants don’t show up on an Identifier, so service your recovery machine to ensure it has no moisture in it and always recover gas, not liquid. That will leave the sealant in the vehicle and not in your machine.

ICE 32

This is an A/C system performance improver. It’s claimed to make the vent temperatures cooler, make the oil slipperier and improve fuel economy.

We installed it into two vehicles. Here’s the results.

2000 Buick Regal

This vehicle has a healthy A/C system. It was blowing cool air before we added ICE32.

These results indicate that the product actually did make the oil move quicker; which cooled the compressor better, and the reduction in pulse width substantiates the claim that it saves fuel.

1997 Dodge Caravan

We had a 3.3L Caravan with a whining compressor. Since this is a common problem, ICE32 was installed to see if it would be quieter. No luck here.

This result indicates that there is no “Mechanic in the Can” that can restore a worn out compressor. But the increased oil flow may prevent it from seizing.

Chemicals can be profitable add on sales and, when properly used, do work as advertised. Just be careful that the customer’s expectations are not to have a permanent repair or a “just like new” system.

These repairs don’t carry the one-year guarantee.


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