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Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

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Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by JimBee » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:39 am

I thought I understood the system requirements but found an earlier post in which abscate includes Volvo spec's for different components.
Why I thought I understood this is because I took my compressor to the Volvo dealership, had it right there on the parts counter and got one of their technicians into a brief discussion.

The badge on the Zexel compressor calls for 200 ml of oil. The way the discussion went, we were assuming that's the system total. Since I ws replacing the dryer and compressor (which was empty), the conclusion was that about 50 ml of PAG oil should go in the dryer and the about 140 into the compressor, since there would still be some in the evaporator and condenser and lines, bringing the total to somewhere around 200 ml.

But now this spec sheet that abscate provides (scroll down on page)
viewtopic.php?t=70909
implies that the dryer itself should have been given 90 cc's of PAG oil (instead of the 50 I put in) and the compressor a full 200 (instead of the 140 I put in that). The total system requirements, according to the spec sheet, add to 380—way more than I have in my system.

If that's the case, then my system is shy of about 90 ml of PAG oil and I suppose it won't be long before it fails.

Can we finally get clear on this?

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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by jimmy57 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:24 am

200 ml/6.75 ounces is total new system fill.
If there is a leak at a component then the normal static amount of oil that will have settled in a particular component, 30 ml/1.6 oz, becomes a larger suggested oil fill as there will have been loss from that leak during circulation that exceeds the static amount. If you add the leakage refill amount to everything then it will have too much oil.
Fortunately an a/c system is not sensitive to oil quantity. More sensitivity to being too low. A 200 ml system is likely to be OK with 150 ml to 400 ml. Excess oil will reduce cooling and has risk for hydraulic lock when the surplus oil pools in compressor when engine is off. The need for oil is the compressor with a small need for the oil to be a corrosion inhibitor throughout system. The oil circulates throughout with two places in system having more held oil when system is off, the compressor and the accumulator. On systems using an expansion valve the receiver/drier replace the accumulator and also holds a larger static oil amount. The increased static oil in these two places is due to these two parts having higher liquid refrigerant quantities while in use and liquid refrigerant has a higher concentration of oil than does gaseous refrigerant.

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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by JimBee » Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:27 am

Jimmy57, thanks for helping to clarify this.

But going by the Volvo spec sheet linked above, if I begin with an empty (replacement) compressor, which I did, the spec sheet indicates 200 ml—presumably into the compressor (though it doesn't state that, exactly). But that ignores oil that is elsewhere in the system.

So, in my case i replaced the dryer and the compressor, both having no oil to begin with.

I also replaced the high pressure hose (compressor to condenser) and low pressure hose from dryer/accumulator to compressor. No other components seemed to have leaked (I pulled a vacuum on it that held for 4 days).

Given those 4 replacement parts had no oil, what specific quantities would you put into each of them—or what total—to ensure a safe oil level? I would remove the compressor and start over if I'm far off.

Thanks!

ps: I have 2 850's and I'm about to install a new dryer on the second one then see if it will hold a vacuum and go from there. I might pull the compressor to remove a clutch shim. I really want to get the oil right.

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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by abscate » Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:07 pm

I think you are way overthinking this Jim, butI see the confusion

Just put the replacement amounts in and get it cold
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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by JimBee » Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:21 pm

abscate: come on. I would like a straight answer. Jimmy suggests that putting 200 into the compressor as indicated in the Volvo spec sheet would put it way over the limit—if in fact the total system volume is supposed to be 200. You say put in the replacement amount, but based on what? The Volvo spec sheet?

The way I phrased the problem is the two hoses, the dryer and the compressor were empty before I put it back together with the replacement compressor.

All I'm asking is, under those conditions, how much would you put in the dryer and the compressor? How much would Jimmy put in? How much would Lee put in. But nobody will say how much they would put in. I don't want to lose another compressor.

If this reply is too brash, I won't be offended if you delete it, but I would still like a straight answer with numbers. These threads get a lot views because there's a lot of confusion about this and others, like myself, would like to get it right.

Okay, I will begin the answer: "Under those specific conditions, on the Volvo p80, I would add (x) to the dryer and (y) to the compressor, and put it together."

Thanks.

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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by scot850 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:03 pm

What components actually tend to collect the oil in the system? Mainly the compressor and the dryer. So work with the replacement values for those 2 items. If it says 140 for the compressor then do that, if it is 90 for the dryer then that is what you fill. I spoke to my local repair shop and they specifically told me NOT to add oil into the dryer as they will do that on re-charge.

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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by abscate » Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:10 pm

Okay, can you tell me if you had slow (more than 24 hours) or fast leakage?

Slow...put 70 ml into the compressor.

Fast..tell me all componemts That were replaced
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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by JimBee » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:08 pm

My original compressor locked up. That happened some time after I had a shop change out the dryer because I couldn't release the spring lock coupling. I asked them how much oil they put into the dryer. The manager of this small shop, said, "whatever it's supposed to have."

Further questioning got me to, "We put it on the machine and when the machine is set for that car it knows how much oil to add."

To me, this is BS. He couldn't tell me because he didn't know. And this is what I sense I keep running into.

They got the new dryer installed and when I started the car to drive off at their shop the coupling blew apart with quite an explosion. Oil was released. How much. Nobody could know that.

Did they pump it back down? I left to pick it up later so don't know what they did. That repair was made mid-summer and a/c worked fine through that season. Next spring it was low and when I tried to put in some R134 it locked up. Smoked up the serp belt. Fortunately, the car was stationary and at a high idle when that happened so I shut it down without damage beyond the belt—and the compressor.

So now I've replaced the compressor and installed a new dryer. Neither had any oil in them until I was ready to install them. Like I said in my first post, I thought I understood the requirements after talking with the Volvo tech. But then the spec sheet came along (listed below) that indicates a replaced compressor gets 200 ml of oil and a dryer gets 90.

From the Volvo spec sheet:
When replacing component the oil quantities below apply to the new components:
Receiver/Drier 90 cubic cm
(0.095 US qt.)
Evaporator 50 cubic cm
(0.053 US qt.)
Compressor 200 cubic cm
(0.211 US qt.)
Condenser 20 cubic cm
(0.021 US qt.)
Hose 20 cubic cm
(0.021 US qt.)

Neil says, "If it says 140 on the compressor then do that." It says 200 on the Zexel compressors. But Jimmy says the whole system takes 200.

Before I put it back together, I put 50 in the dryer and 140 in the compressor, assuming, like the Volvo tech said, there would still be some in the other components, so accounting for that, divide up about 190 that way. But did he have authoritative knowledge?

This is the point of confusion I'm trying to resolve. If nobody really knows well then we're resigned to guessing, which I'd rather not do.

I just did a little research, Bosch bought the Zexel brand, then sold it to Valeo in France. I just emailed Valeo with Zexel SAE number on the compressor. I'll be surprised if they can find the information but it's worth a try.

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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by abscate » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:48 pm

The problem isn't the amount, it's not knowing the oil put in after the fast blow off.

I would take the full charge amounts 200+90 and the amount you have out in and split the difference. That's the best you can do without the missing information
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Re: Volvo 850 still confused about total a/c oil

Post by JimBee » Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:46 pm

Determined to get the best information I could on this question, I visited two local indie shops in St. Paul. Both have been in business since the '60's. One has serviced Volvos exclusively until about 10 years ago when they also began to work on VW's. The other specializes in auto a/c repair.

The Volvo repair guy thought the amount I put into the compressor (140 ml) was way too much, even assuming I started with an empty compressor. His head mechanic was there. They agreed that 2 oz in a new dryer is about right. That's a little more than I put into my new dryer. There was some discussion about the correct amount directly into the compressor. I came away thinking, they don't know either. They're nice guys and I think generally very well regarded in their field. Any vintage a/c work they send down the street, so that was my next stop.

Next stop, the auto a/c specialist. He told me that he puts about 6 oz. total in a new dryer and compressor, splitting the amount between them about evenly. That would be around 180 ml, which is about what I put in (190 minus a little pulled out during vacuuming).

Remembering that the badge on the compressor (I had the old one with me today) indicates 200 ml and factoring what MVS folks have been saying together with today's sources (and trying to put that Volvo spec sheet out of mind), I think I will be content with the quantities I put in, let it run and hope for the best.

I'm not sure if the ratio of oil to refrigerant affects the oil's lubricating capacity. If so, and if I added a little more oil than spec, then the 20 oz of R134 I put in (to get to 45 degrees at the dash vent), might make it to heavy on oil. Back to guessing again on that. I like the cabin temp to feel cool but not cold, so 45 degrees is plenty adequate. But if the 20 oz. of R134 to get to 45 degrees results in "heavy on the oil", then a couple more ounces of R134 might help to lighten up the mix.

The thing is, I have another 850 that also needs work, quite likely a new dryer as the original one looked rusty last summer when I checked on it. Its system had been pumped down and charged by the same shop that worked on my current project. It lasted about a month and went flat. The hose connections at the condenser and the compressor all had green dye around them, so it looks like they all leaked. I'll pull a vacuum on it to begin with and go from there. I have a new dryer if it needs it. It will be nice to have 2 out of 3 working a/c systems. The 93 850 has the R12 system which will probably stay non-working. We've had some hot days recently and summer driving seems a little less enjoyable in sweltering heat.

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