Some service personnel see the turbulent air conditioning service business as one burden heaped upon another-new refrigerants, new equipment, additional equipment maintenance and more training. This adds up to a higher cost of doing the work. Indeed, the phase-out of traditional R-12 refrigerant,
phase-in of ozone-safe R-134a and refrigerant recycling regulations are forcing service shops to get serious about air conditioning work or get out of it altogether.
To compete today in this segment of the auto service market, tire dealers must update the know-how of their technicians and equip their shops to the teeth.
The lion's share of service-age vehicle air conditioners still use R-12. Yet the gradual phase-out and sporadic shortages of this refrigerant are forcing many technicians to relearn basic-but vital-service techniques that improve diagnostic accuracy, conserve precious refrigerant and reduce costly comebacks on air conditioner repair jobs.
What's more, the increased cost of doing these repairs is spurring service personnel to market their talents more intelligently. Instead of caving in to requests for quick, unprofitable ``top-off'' recharge jobs (now illegal in some states such as Florida), service technicians are urging customers to fix the system once and fix it right. Now, more than ever, a thorough repair is the only way to make money servicing auto air conditioners.
This special service section covers often overlooked or forgotten service tips plus new techniques for identifying impure, improper and potentially dangerous refrigerants in auto air conditioners.