Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: St. Petersburg Florida
Although I consider myself a thoroughly competent Esprit mechanic I leave all AC charging, diagnosing, repairing to the AC guys at my local shop. The equipment a modern AC uses is complex and incredibly expensive (the reclaim machines I have seen advertised on tool websites for example go for $12,000 and up). You need "sniffers", you need dye, you need UV light sources, etc. Although I generally don't have anyone else do any work on my '89 I'm happy to turn it over to the AC shop when it needs AC attention.
And if you are discussing a car that was originally an R12 refrigerant car, then you will lose about 20-25% cooling capacity by just dropping in R134. I have always kept my car in R12 because of that and the AC does a credible job even in sunny Florida. R12 is still legal if vended by a licensed shop. What has stopped is the manufacture of R12 so there is still old and reclaimed stock out there if you want to stay in the R12 mode. It is more expensive than R134 but not prohibitively so - my AC shop said R12 adds about $80 to the cost of a refill of my system.
1989 Esprit Turbo