R134a air conditioning machine
R134a systems will continue to be a major revenue stream for the next 10 years. In 2019 60% of vehicles will still be using R134a in their AC systems. This means you will still need an R134a air conditioning machine (or ac machine) to profit.
From January 2017 car manufacturers have to produce all of their vehicles with HFO-1234yf, however up until that point vehicles with R134a can still be produced, research data suggests that at least 60% of vehicles in circulation in 2019 will have an R134a system. In the UK this will be nearly 20 million vehicles that will still need servicing with an R134a air conditioning machine.
HFO-1234yf (R1234yf) air conditioning machines
HFO-1234yf vehicles have started to appear in small numbers already in 2012, these vehicles will predominantly be catered in the franchised dealers for the next few years. The franchise dealer needs to look at when vehicles are introduced and plan accordingly. The reality is that most independent repairers will not see these vehicles for a while and certainly not in any great numbers to warrant the investment in new equipment.
Electric driven compressors a more immediate issue
Emphasis is now placed on vehicle manufacturers to work with alternative energy sources. This over the past few years has seen the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles to the market, many of which are starting to arrive in repairer workshops more regularly.
The issue is that PAG oil used in standard systems can cause major problems in electric driven compressors, even major failure. Some electric driven compressors require a special non conductive oil (POE). The acceptable amount of cross contamination is less than 0.1% PAG (fully synthetic) oil in an electric compressor.
What is required is an automatic air con machine service unit which will work on R134a systems that have two independent oil circuits. This gives you the capability to work with hybrid / electric as well as standard combustion vehicles – a growing market for repairers in the next 12-24 months.
Nussbaum has been working on this with vehicle manufacturers and system designers, the Nussbaum ACE 20E is approved by many manufacturers for this including Toyota, Renault and General Motors.
AACTA’s advice on AC machines
R134a will be available for many years, as will the vehicles that require servicing and repairing. The message is to invest in a quality air conditioning machine capable of meeting the requirements of the vehicles being sold today. If maintained and serviced properly a quality unit will last for at least 10 years.
Should I buy a bi-gas air con machine or a unit that can be converted at a later date?
A Bi-gas (or Dual gas) unit cannot be compliant with SAE J2843 or meet OEM requirements and specifications, such as VDA approval. A Bi-gas unit is often a compromise of specifications and features. There are also issues only being able to service one system at a time and the time spent waiting while the equipment clears itself ready for the next vehicle. Also if the machine has a problem or is damaged no a/c
work can be carried out until the problem is fixed. We strongly recommend repairers against the purchase of a Bi-Gas unit.
Converted units may look attractive to prospective buyers but, we feel this is unnecessary because of the large amount of R134a work which will be ongoing. The question will be “When do I update my unit as R134a is still my most frequent gas used in service?”. The cost of the update kit is an additional expense which could be avoided – figures quoted are up to £800. Once a unit is converted you cannot go back. You
will still need to purchase an R134a machine to cater for the existing market.