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1997 Ford Taurus 3.0L Wagon 226,362 miles
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
'97 Taurus GL 3.0L 194.6k: A/C High Press Test Port Leaking Constantly

I had the gauge set connected to both ports and was checking the static pressure, then the running pressure. With ambient around 89 F and humidity at 48 %, static was at 102-104-ish on both high and low. Then I pulled the gauge set off to check my '02 Impala and the Taurus' high pressure port starting spewing out what looked like mostly air (not a white cloud at all) out the high pressure test port. This happened to me last year but it stopped after putting the gauge set back on, then taking it off. This time, it wouldn't stop.

So I bought the tool/needle-core replacement kit ($3.49 at O'Reilly's). Problem is, if I take the gauge set off, it'll start leaking again and I doubt I'll be able to get the tool on it to try to tighten the core.
So do I just let it all blow out and THEN proceed, or do I try to capture the leaking refrigerant (R-134a) somehow?

And does anybody know of a pressurized fitting I can snap on to temporarily stop the leak? I'm thinking it would just be the fitting on the end of the gauge set, minus the hose. Is such a thing available anywhere (or could I make it)?
 

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There is a cap that is supposed to cover the

ports when they are not being connected to gauges. They should have an O-ring that seals the port. In most cases, this will seal the port if it has a slow leak.

You probably have a badly leaking Schrader valve in the high side port which is to be expected on a car of your vintage. The reason it sealed the first time you mention is because the rubber seal reseated after being compressed and released. However, it sounds like it has now broken down and won't seal completely.

It should be replaced but that requires evacuating the system of refrigerant , replacing the valve and recharging, although I believe there is a special tool that lets you change out the valve while the system is charged ($$$). It might be better to take it into a shop to do this unless you want to evacuate and recharge yourself.

Worst case, you lose all your refrigerant at which time you can replace the valve at your leisure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This "tool" to tighten or replace the schrader valve core is only about an inch long with a 1/4" diameter dimpled/embossed cylindrical head. Looks just like the thumb valves on the gauge set hoses (except a LOT smaller). Do you think I could possibly push this tiny tool into that out-rushing mix of air and refrigerant to attempt to tighten the core? I don't think I can do it because the tool is too small. They probably make it this way so you don't have too much leverage to overtighten the core inside, but you need something more substantial to force down over the top of the Schrader if it's leaking. I can get the gauge set connector on easy enough. If THAT was the tool I'd be all set.

Who makes these tools? They're poorly conceived.

And where is the manual shutoff valve below these leaking Schrader valves? You'd think with all the concern over emmissions of refrigerant that they'd require DOUBLE valves on these test ports!

The caps, by the way, are just plastic "dust covers". They are not pressurized caps and they don't hold the refrigerant in. Maybe in previous incarnations of auto A/C systems they were more substantial, but not anymore. Obviously there should STILL be some kind of pressurized cap that you could pop onto these lousy Schraders. If I could find just a short hose from one of the gauge sets that have a shut-off valve at the end near the quick-connect, that would do it for me ... to at least then be able to drive the car somewhere to capture the refrigerant and repair the system.
 

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Personally, I don't think I'd want to put my hand in a stream of refrigerant from the high-pressure port. Also, I don't think it's a matter of tightening the body of the Schrader valve; the rubber seal is probably damaged or worn. It probably needs to be removed and replaced.

There are adapters like this available that will do what you are looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
rickpark:

Yeah ... I think that'll do it. I can probably tie-wrap the flexible hose around the long vertical stem of the high port to keep it stable while I drive it.

You know ... I'm wondering now if I just try pulling off the gauges again when the ambient temp is lower maybe it'll leak less and I can THEN try using the tool to tighten the core. It COULD be that the core is just loose. I think it's worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was able to remove the gauge set this morning without anything leaking out of the test port. It was 72 degrees ambient, so I guess that helped by lowering the static pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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