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Air Conditioning

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r134a
most vehicles prior to 2018

r1234yf
most vehicles after 2018

If your vehicle uses R134a refrigerant, you won’t have to make the change. However, if your car has the new refrigerant, you’ll have to stick with it. Manufacturers may even classify putting R134a in a car that came with 1234yf as emissions tampering which is highly illegal! — particularly if they count air conditioning credits toward light-duty greenhouse gas compliance. Even then, accidentally using the wrong refrigerant is nearly impossible, as the new system has special fittings, including unique service ports and caps.

R134a or HFC134a, was the new standard by 1994, due to its "insignificant ozone depletion potential" and "slightly lower global warming potential than r12 freon", according to the EPA

However, by the 2000s, researchers discovered that R134a does, in fact, contribute to global warming, according to the EPA... or maybe the patent ran out? ;-) So it was back to the lab once again.

Now we have r1234yf  as this new, colorless gas and has only a 1 minute impact on the atmosphere. It breaks down chemically in the atmosphere after just 11 days, compared to 13 years for R134a, according to research by Chemours.

Unlike the two earlier refrigerants, this one is flammable, and has raised concerns among automakers several years ago. However, testing by the refrigerant’s manufacturers reveals that those concerns were unfounded, according to the New York Times. You still shouldn't mess with this stuff in your driveway at home though. 

This list of late-model vehicles includes all the auto manufacturers that have implemented the use of R-1234yf refrigerant in their vehicle A/C systems. More cars are added to this list as they are produced. 

(U.S. vehicles are in bold.)

  • BMW i3 Electric

  • Cadillac XTS

  • Chevrolet Malibu, Spark EV, Trax

  • Chrysler 200C, 200S, 300, 300C

  • Citroën C4, Elysëe

  • Dodge Challenger, Charger, Dart, Ram 1500

  • Fiat 500

  • Ford Transit

  • Great Wall Motor Company Limited – Voleex C30

  • Honda Fit EV

  • Hyundai Santa Fe, i30

  • Infinity Q50

  • Jaguar F Type

  • Jeep Cherokee, Renegade

  • Kia Sorento, Optima, Carenz, Cee’d2

  • Lexus GS450h

  • Mazda CX-5

  • Mitsubishi Mirage

  • Opel Mokka

  • Peugeot 301, 308

  • Range Rover and Range Rover Sport

  • Renault Zoe 3

  • SAIC Motor Corporation Limited MG350/Rover 350

  • Subaru BRZ, Forrester, Impreza, XV

  • Tesla Model S

  • Toyota Yaris HSD, Prius Plus, GT86

Automotive Air Conditioning Components

Like the engine cooling system, the auto air conditioning system uses a pump to circulate coolant. Air conditioning refrigerant’s special property allows it to phase-change from liquid to gaseous forms. Phase changes come with another special property: the absorption and release of heat. Here’s a basic summary of how each part produces these phase changes and keeps the cabin cool.

Compressor: The air conditioning compressor, driven by a belt or electric motor, circulates refrigerant in the system. Compressed refrigerant moves through tubes and hoses to the drier and condenser.

Condenser: Usually mounted forward of the radiator, the condenser looks like a thinner radiator. Air rushes through the condenser and cools the refrigerant. When pressurized and losing heat, the refrigerant phase-changes into a liquid, moving on to the expansion point.

Expansion Valve: Just before the evaporator is a tiny passage — a self-adjusting expansion valve or a fixed-orifice tube. A low-pressure expanse awaits in the evaporator.

Evaporator: Hidden inside the air box, the evaporator looks like a small radiator with fat tubes. Inside, the refrigerant phase-changes to a gas. It absorbs heat from the cabin air blown by the fan. The refrigerant then moves back to the compressor to start the circuit again.

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