Refrigerant leak in late model Ford Explorer?
Check under the accumulator blanket!
by Ignacio “Nacho” Corella
March/April 2001 in Cool
© 2001 All Rights Reserved
Are customers complaining of gradual decreased cooling on late model Explorers? Are you suffering occurrences in Explorers of continuing refrigerant loss? If so, check out the accumulator, it may be that external rust is setting in.
Above and below (click
thumbnails for a larger image): This is a 4 year old Ford Explorer accumulator! Peel away the thermal insulation and the rusting is rampant. Plus, the vehicle lives in a desert. What must be happening to these vehicles in Minneapolis?
While it’s normally a very unusual problem, we've had 5 of these in the shop this year already, all in 1997 Ford Explorers with the V8 5.0-liter engine. For now, with a little research, it appears, that this problem is limited to 1996-98 V8 Explorers.
Aside from desiccant bag rupture (and dispersion throughout the system), one would not suspect this problem because accumulator failures are so rare. We’ve never experienced any such failure, especially in such new vehicles.
The accumulator has a thermal wrap-around blanket and evidently excess moisture is trapped between it and the all-steel accumulator. Removing it easily exposes the rust. Actually, on some of them, the rust is so bad you can see it without having to peel back the blanket. It’s incredible!
So what's up? Another major Ford screw up? Hmmm…I see that Ford must have caught it because they have deleted the wrap in 1999-2001 Explorers. Note that GM has the blanket too, but uses all-aluminum accumulators.
Above: Ignacio “Nacho” Corella (lower left) and the crew at CEKSA Autoclimas, Hermosillo, Mexico. Air conditioning is a year-’round business at their shop.
My advice: if the Explorer has a steel accumulator (most or all do), remove all blankets or rust will eat right through them. Remember too, we are 300 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona. Imagine what must be happening to those vehicles driving around in the salt-belt?
Editor: Nacho Corella is the owner of CEKSA Autoclimas, an automotive repair facility in Hermosillo, Mexico. Given their year around warm climate, they specialize in air conditioning service.
Nacho is a daily contributor to the Bulletin Board at www.aircondition.com. He helps a/c technicians and DIYers overcome both the obvious and the most difficult of a/c service problems.
Nacho’s website (still in Spanish for now):
Phone: 526-210-3501 (from the US, don’t forget the 011); Toll-free in Mexico: 800-222-AIRE; Fax: 526-210-1607.
Editor: Soon you will be
able to check in with “current” radiator and a/c industry vendors on the web at: www.imcool.com/buyersguide/.
Vendors: If you would like to be listed as a vendor to the automotive (and Heavy Duty) radiator and A/C service industry, please call, fax, email or fill out the form on the imcool.com web site. Look for Buyer’s Guide Data Entry Form.
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