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My AC has been slowing leaking freon for the last 6 months and after topping it up repeatedly, I figured it was time to actually fix the issue.
After not having used the AC for a couple of months, a quick test yesterday showed the fans did not kick, nor did the compressor. I figure it must have lost too much gas for it to fire up.
Are there any 'usual suspect' places to check for leaks?
Are the o rings and seals Lotus specific, or can I pick them up at the auto pars store?
Thanks
 

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There are a few common places to check, and they actually aren't that difficult to see (shockingly). Having a dye charge in the system makes this a lot easier. Generally the best way to diagnose that kind of leak is to follow the path of the refrigerant lines and look for anything "muddy", damp, or dirty at the connections. I'd start by looking at the compressor clutch area and the fill ports underneath the car. Take the caps off the fill ports and see if the schrader valves inside are leaking (though that can be difficult if there is a mess left over from your last fill).

From there, you can check out the expansion valve in the interior RH footwell, just before it enters the evaporator. There are 4 o-rings that have leaked on mine before. Replacement of those isn't that fun because of the close quarters, but it's not particularly complicated. Just evacuate the system, peel off the black tar insulation, unscrew the allen-head bolt, and pull it apart, replace, and put it all back.

I would also check the accumulator bottle on the RH side of the frunk (cheap and easy to replace). Finally, you can shine a light through the front air intake to see the condensers and hope you don't find anything there. If there is a leak in the evaporator, you won't be able to see it, and it will be a huge pain. The condensers are second in terms of difficulty because you have to drop the whole radiator assembly to get to them.

You can get suitable o-rings at any auto parts store. Just make sure you get the green 134a version. Keep in mind that anytime you open up the system completely you will need to vacuum it down before a refill of refrigerant, and ideally replace the accumulator bottle for the sake of the desiccant inside.

Jake in St. Louis
 

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I am in the process f doing just this. My system was tight but the compressor was a dirty, oily mess. The shaft seal was leaking badly. I replaced the compressor, it was only $220 for a Delphi that is used on the Buick Skylark for the Lotus V-8's. Not the easiest job to replace the compressor, I had to remove the oil filter base, turbo pipes, and engine mount. While I was at it I also replaced every seal and the dryer. The insulation around the TEX is called Cork Seal, and yes, replacing those "O" rings is a pain because of the limited access. If you have a "newer" Lotus with R-134a you must use the green "O" rings. Another point, if you have been losing refrigerant and you have been "topping off" you must replace the oil that was also lost along with the refrigerant. Failure to do so condemns the compressor to an early death. No problem if you replace the compressor but you must flush the system and refill with PAG oil. As for the condenser coils, if you remove the lower duct in front of the rad package, you can reach in and do the seals without dropping the whole thing. Not easy but doable. To properly evacuate the system you need a special vacuum pump so you can remove all of the air and the moisture. Best thing is to have a shop remove what refrigerant remains, go home and replace the seals and then go back to the shop so they can evacuate, test for leaks, and recharge the system.
David Teitelbaum
 
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