Engineers have worked tirelessly to make cars more effective, powerful, and comfortable ever since Ford introduced the Model T to the broader public. Air conditioning is one of those innovations that most people take for granted. The 1940 Packard was the first automobile that offered factory-installed air conditioning. More than 80 years later, almost all modern cars have air conditioning.
Since 1940, the air conditioning in vehicles and trucks has improved efficiency, environmental friendliness, size, and packaging. The refrigerant utilized for cooling the air entering the cabin has been altered, in addition to other system components. R-1234YF, a new refrigerant, has been used in new vehicles since 2020. This new refrigerant may offer higher fuel efficiency and less environmental impact. We will cover everything you need to know regarding R-1234YF in this article.
A Brief History of AC Refrigerants on Trucks and Cars
Over the years, the use of refrigerants by the automotive industry has changed as environmental regulations and technology have progressed.
From 1940 till the mid-1990s, when it was outlawed because of its serious environmental effects, R12 was the first refrigerant utilized in car AC systems. Although only R12 was produced under Freon, it has become a generic word for all air conditioning refrigerants.
The ability to service older R12-equipped automobiles is becoming increasingly difficult to locate. Thus, many owners of classic cars have converted their AC systems to use more contemporary refrigerants.
GWP (global warming potential) for R12 is 10200.
R12 refrigerant was phased entirely out on new vehicles in 1996 in favor of 134a. Because it does not deplete the ozone layer, 134a is much less environmentally hazardous. Environmental restrictions drove the switch, even though R12 was replaced by R12, which was less effective at cooling.
The GWP of 134a is 1300.
What is Refrigerant?
A substance with a low boiling point alternating between a liquid and a gaseous state is called a refrigerant. As the refrigerant moves through the compressors, evaporators, and condensers in an air conditioning system, heat is removed, and cooler air is blown into the vehicle’s interior.
What is R-1234YF?
The fact that R-1234YF is a synthetic hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerant that has an incredibly low GWP makes it stand out. Even though the carbon atoms have a double bond, it mixes the three elements: fluorine, carbon, and hydrogen. Its GWP rating is less than 1, making it quite unusual in composition and generating minuscule quantities of greenhouse gases which deplete the ozone layer.
Technologies for refrigerants in auto air conditioners have advanced significantly over time. R12 or Freon AC refrigerants were used in cars from the early 1930s to the 1990s. R12 was supplanted by 134a refrigerants by the mid-1990s. After 30 years, the R-1234YF continues demonstrating its ability to address environmental issues with vehicle AC systems.
The R12 refrigerants have a 100-year atmospheric lifetime and a greater carbon dioxide gas potency. With its 1430 GWP rating, the R-134a refrigerant was introduced, which reduced the production of hazardous gases. Advanced R1234YF technology-equipped vehicles emit less than one GWP, which makes them environmentally friendly.
Fluorine and hydrogen are both present in the hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant known as 134a. DuPont and Honeywell created the hydrofluoric-olefin refrigerant 1234YF. In contrast to 134a, 1234YF also contains fluorine, hydrogen, and carbon atoms. The distinction is that the two are very different regarding the negative effects of the gases causing global warming. While 134a is a greenhouse gas just as destructive as carbon dioxide, 1234YF is better for the environment because it has less global warming potential.
Nevertheless, 134a was an improvement over R12, which had a startling GWP of about 11,000, since 134a reduced that figure to 1430. Here comes the hero, 1234YF, who falls to roughly a 3. The European Union mandated that all manufacturers switched from 134a to 1234YF in January 2017. Soon after, the EPA within the United States ordered a complete transition by the middle of the 2020s. In 2013, General Motors started releasing vehicles on the market with this new technology, and full conversion occurred in 2018. Models from Chrysler, Subaru, and Honda came next in 2017. By 2025, it’s expected that 1234YF will be present in every vehicle. If your present vehicle needs 134a, don’t worry. Although 134a is incompatible with 1234YF and is anticipated to be phased out, manufacture is ongoing and will continue as long as there is a need to service older vehicles.
Car AC Repairs and Service
Given the new technology and shift, your service staff must be adequately trained to maintain car AC systems using this refrigerant. Even though the procedure is comparable, some significant distinctions could harm your vehicle if not done correctly. The refrigerant must be withdrawn, evacuated, and sucked into a vacuum to remove air and moisture from all systems. Your air conditioning system will be connected to a specialized, fully automated device by a technician, and the machine will run a vacuum pressure test to look for leaks inside the system. Only in the absence of leak detection will the machine operate. After completing the vacuum test, the system will receive a “pre-charge” of only 15% charge. The front evaporator within the car’s cabin is placed behind the blower, and the technician will also check for leaks there. The machine will finish the recharge and inject the remaining refrigerant into the system once it has determined that there were no leaks. The device will notify the technician to find and fix any leaks before continuing if leaks are found. That avoids a needless and costly refrigerant loss.
Pros and Cons
The greater good is constantly considered when making changes. The new refrigerant has a few small disadvantages, but as with most things, the advantages exceed the drawbacks. What are the benefits and drawbacks of 1234YF and modern servicing equipment?
- Recovers 95% of the system’s refrigerant.
- Recharges within ½ ounce of specification.
- Won’t allow the recovery of tainted refrigerant.
- Not going to recharge when leaks are found.
- More efficient.
- It is more expensive and difficult to maintain—a pound of 134a costs roughly $10. The price of the new refrigerant is around 15 times higher. A typical car requires between 1 and 1.5 pounds.
- It has low flammability. But without a heat source that is hotter than 1650 degrees Fahrenheit, it won’t burn. The refrigerant is safe for use by passengers, according to SAE. The fire risk is minimal in case of a refrigerant leak or accident within the cabin area.
Air Conditioning Service at All European Auto Repair
By integrating this innovative technology into our service center, All European Auto Repair is investing in the future. Many service providers do not offer this recently introduced service, but we are happy to supply it to our clients.
We’re the dealership substitute, aiming to make time and money savings for the AC car service as simple as possible. By offering service for your 1234YF air conditioning system, we’re upholding our promise to provide top-notch ASE Certified Technicians with cutting-edge technology, and we’ll keep providing our clients with 134a-required vehicle services.
Choose All European Auto Repair for all your air conditioning maintenance and repairs to keep you cool! Call us at (702) 363-9191 for more questions and information.
7010 W Russell Rd #A, Las Vegas, NV 89113, United States