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2013 Base Tacoma has AC leak somewhere in cabin area.

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Tacomas (2005-2015)' started by TacosOnly, Aug 12, 2022.

  1. Aug 12, 2022 at 2:38 PM
    #1
    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    I have had an AC leak for a while. I've been told that the leak must be somewhere near the dashboard because the leak test the mechanic does shows pressure dropping but at the same time no leak is visible from anywhere under the hood.

    I'm thinking about taking apart the dashboard myself, and I wonder if I can narrow that task down to certain parts of the dashboard or if I need to take all of it out. I've seen some videos on youtube for partial disassembly of the dashboard but nothing that says it will give you a good view of the internal AC System. Can anyone help me figure this out?

    I'm hoping the hole in the pipework is easily visible at that point.
     
  2. Aug 12, 2022 at 3:02 PM
    #2
    Taco'09

    Taco'09 Well-Known Member

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    The only things that are going to leak in that neighborhood are the seals at the expansion valve, the valve itself, and the evaporator inside the dash.

    Open the hood and find the evaporator condensation drain hose on the RH side of the firewall down low. A sniffer put there at the hose outlet will tell you if there is a leak.

    Same thing for the expansion valve about a foot or so above the evaporator condensation hose. It is behind the rubber boot on the firewall and will have two aluminum tubes through it -- one is larger in diameter than the other.
     
    Raylo, BFBubba and b_r_o like this.
  3. Aug 12, 2022 at 3:03 PM
    #3
    shmn

    shmn Well-Known Member

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    Get yourself a leak detector like this for $20: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015FK1EH2

    It will help track down the leak. In the cabin only the evaporator and the expansion valve are present. I would still sniff all over the engine compartment and then sniff through the hole in the firewall where the two AC lines go (remove the rubber cover) to see if the leak is in there. You can also use the sniffer under the dash or in the glovebox to see if you can find it. No sense in taking the dash apart hoping to find something. Find the leak first then take things apart.
     
  4. Aug 18, 2022 at 3:45 PM
    #4
    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    Thanks, did this, found a leak about an inch in and downward behind the black rubber hole cover in the firewall where the two AC lines, and then I went inside and checked behind my glove box and above the cabin air filter, and found a leak in the position show in this picture...


    IMG_20220818_152646.jpg

    I'm not sure where to go from here. Seems like going in from the glove compartment is most convenient. I don't know what I'm replacing yet though.
     
  5. Aug 18, 2022 at 3:52 PM
    #5
    Dm93

    Dm93 Test Don't Guess

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    Sounds like you've narrowed it down to being either one of the seals on the expansion valve or the evaporator.
    Expansion valve and seals can be replaced without removing the dash but dash removal is required to change the evaporator.
     
    Jimmyh likes this.
  6. Aug 18, 2022 at 4:04 PM
    #6
    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    I just saw a youtube video of a time lapse of a shop taking a tacoma dashboard apart. That looks pretty scary for me in my little apartment garage. Looks like I'm going to replace the valve and pray that is it.
     
  7. Aug 18, 2022 at 4:29 PM
    #7
    Dm93

    Dm93 Test Don't Guess

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    Yea it can be pretty intimidating to someone that has never done it, the first few dash jobs I did took me quite awhile but now I can do most of them well under book time and actually quite enjoy doing them as long as the vehicle isn't a toilet and the plastic isn't all brittle.
     
    Canadian Caber likes this.
  8. Aug 18, 2022 at 4:35 PM
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    b_r_o

    b_r_o Gnar doggy

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    Dash pulls aren't bad as long as you're organized. Take lots of pictures, bag up the bolts and hardware and take your time
     
    Dm93 likes this.
  9. Sep 5, 2022 at 4:47 PM
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    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    Can I be sure that it's safe to open the refrigerant system as long as the vents are not shooting cold air while the knobs are set to max AC?
     
  10. Sep 5, 2022 at 8:53 PM
    #10
    Dm93

    Dm93 Test Don't Guess

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    I wouldn't recommend disconnecting any lines unless you know for sure the system is empty.
     
    6 gearT444E and b_r_o like this.
  11. Sep 29, 2022 at 5:39 PM
    #11
    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    So I got the parts in from Amazon. According to what I've seen on youtube, I still need to buy 4 additional gaskets/seals and I guess some 134 oil to lubricate them. Am I missing anything?

    IMG_20220929_173215.jpg

    This is supposed to be OEM. I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like. What do you think?

    IMG_20220929_173249.jpg IMG_20220929_173255.jpg
     
  12. Sep 30, 2022 at 6:32 AM
    #12
    shmn

    shmn Well-Known Member

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    TacosOnly[OP] likes this.
  13. Sep 30, 2022 at 8:28 AM
    #13
    Raylo

    Raylo Well-Known Member

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    This issue has always fascinated and scared me. A buddy had a leaking evaporator on a 4 year old 4Runner, while many here go decades and hundreds of thousands of miles with no such problems. I always wondered what mechanism is at work... be it materials, manufacturing tolerances, or what. Pulling the dash is a daunting task and that is one thing that might make me dump my Tacoma if it ever happens. I did replace a dash on a 1978 TransAm once back in the day after some car stereo thieves hit me. It was tough, but I suspect the Tacoma will be tougher. But then the Tacoma should have better hardware and plastics that don't break when you look at them. Hope to never have to find out.

    Good luck, OP. Hope the new expansion valve and seals work for you, but my $ is on the evap. Keep us posted.
     
    TacosOnly[OP] likes this.
  14. Sep 30, 2022 at 9:02 AM
    #14
    Dm93

    Dm93 Test Don't Guess

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    Probably a combination of manufacturing and cheaping out on material.
    We do Dodge and Ford truck evaporators regualarly as well as condensers on 14-19 GM 1/2 ton trucks and SUVs.
    I had the dash out of a 2nd gen Tundra for a mouse chewed evaporator temperature sensor wire and that was quite a project compared to a Ford or Dodge but still wasn't terrible.
    I haven't done a Tacoma yet.
     
    Raylo[QUOTED] likes this.
  15. Oct 16, 2022 at 11:09 AM
    #15
    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    So I have the old expansion valve out but I'm realizing that I won't be able to remove the old gaskets that are on the other side of the firewall without a pick tool, which I won't have until tomorrow.

    Is it safe to drive with the coolant system left open? I'm not sure if the ac uses any vacuum from the engine.
     
  16. Oct 16, 2022 at 11:19 AM
    #16
    Dm93

    Dm93 Test Don't Guess

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    It's not ideal but you can as long as you cap everything to prevent dirt/moisture from getting in.
    Make sure you pull a really good vacuum on it when you are done to get as much moisture out of the lines as possible, the more time the system sits open the more time moisture from the air has to accumulate in the lines.
     
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  17. Oct 16, 2022 at 11:37 AM
    #17
    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    Am I guaranteed trouble if I just install over the old gaskets?
     
  18. Oct 16, 2022 at 11:40 AM
    #18
    QuadDog

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    The gaskets may be where it was leaking. You’ll also need a new receiver dryer. As Dm93 said, make sure you put a vacuum on it.
     
  19. Oct 16, 2022 at 12:03 PM
    #19
    Dm93

    Dm93 Test Don't Guess

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    Not necessarily but since you are chasing a leak I would replace them to eliminate them as a variable.
    You could assemble it temporarily to keep the system sealed until you can replace them.
     
  20. Oct 16, 2022 at 1:50 PM
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    TacosOnly

    TacosOnly [OP] Member

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    Ok, so I managed to pry the gaskets off with a small panel tool. Lubricated everything. Put everything back together. Now I don't have vacuum equipment so I skipped all that. I went to Wal-Mart and bought some recharge. Recharged. AC is blowing nice and cold. I tested with the halogen detector again and realized that it is quirky in that you can force a false positive by obstructing the orifice at the end of the probe. Since discovering that, I have not picked up a leak on it that I can positively say was true, though it has gone off in positions where it may not have been fully obstructed. I am apprehensive about my placement of my seals however, as I am about the amount of torque I put on the screws that hold the seals in place. I guess all I can do is wait and see if my AC keeps running cold or not.

    Here are some pictures of the old parts:


    I understand the clogged strainer is a sign that the expansion valve has failed somehow, at least I think that's what I remember from the youtube video (cant find it anymore)
    IMG_20221016_121553.jpg


    I'm very curious about the thick dye on top of the valve seen here. That is surely not incidental to any work that was done on my AC right?
    IMG_20221016_121601.jpg


    As opposed to the dye seen here...
    IMG_20221016_121607.jpg
     

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