Awareness of Changing Refrigerant Types

You may have noticed that A/C refrigerant on many new vehicles has started to change. For many years, OEMs used R134a. However, government mandates require OEMs to phase out R134a by the year 2021. This left OEMs scrambling to find a replacement. Many US OEMs chose to use R1234yf to replace R134a, but there are some OEMs that have chosen a different route. Let’s take look at these new refrigerants.

R134a and R1234yf are similar, however, R1234yf was created as a more environmentally friendly replacement to R134a. The biggest difference between the two is that R1234yf is mildly flammable and does require special handling. Diagnosis of the air-conditioning system can be done in the same way as with R134a. However, you will need different recovery machines and other equipment to handle R1234yf. Some recovery machines are equipped for both R134a and R1234yf. These machines will be equipped with automatic refrigerant detection. To further help avoid confusion, ports for R1234yf systems are a different size. Unlike when R12 was changed to R134a, you cannot retrofit to use R1234yf.

The potential flammability of R1234yr has caused some European OEMs to choose R744 instead. R744 is carbon dioxide, so it is non-flammable. In Europe, Mercedes-Benz is using R744 on the 2017 E-Class. Volkswagen Group stated the next generation Audi A8 will also be equipped with R744. This refrigerant uses very different A/C equipment because of the high pressure required, about 1400 PSI. This also causes safety concerns.

Make sure that you check for vehicle labels and OEM information to ensure the correct type of refrigerant is being used. Different refrigerants require different handling and storag precautions, oils, and A/C equipment. Make sure that you have the training needed to handle whichever refrigerant you are required to use.

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