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Ask your mechanic if this is right for you

July 17, 2013
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Usually I can't change the channel fast enough when a commercial for a prescription drug comes on or a car salesman starts yelling at me to buy a car.

However I have been mesmerized lately when certain unbelievable commercials come on hawking do-it-yourself car repair gimmicks. For instance, you are encouraged to buy a kit to add freon to your air conditioning system. Saves hundreds of dollars, it says. No need to take the car to anyone who knows what they're doing, it says.

Here's my advice. Ask your mechanic if this kit is right for you. Tell your mechanic if your air conditioning system has a high pressure reading that is too high or too low, or a low pressure reading that is too low or too high, or whether there is an obstruction at the expansion valve, and tell him if your condenser fan is operating when it should, and whether or not there is any obstruction blocking the airflow through the evaporator or the condenser, and if your drive belt is in good condition, and if your blower motor is working at all necessary speeds.

Don't use this kit if your car has not had a recent check up by someone who knows how to check it up, and ask if it is healthy enough to take a charge of additional freon. Additional freon added to a system that is not lacking freon can cause ruptured condensers, blown pressure hoses, broken belts and exploded compressors. This leads owners to depression and thoughts of suicide. Don't use this kit if you have delusions of grandeur about your ability to diagnose air conditioning systems because you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Don't use this kit because your neighbor tells you to, even if he loans it to you for free.

Seek medical attention if you are bending over the fender when the compressor blows. Seek financial help to pay for the damage caused by an overdose of freon. Seek sympathy from your friends when you tell them how you were ripped off by the advertisement. Seek your money back from the vendor. Good luck with that.

You can also buy a refrigerant leak-stopping fluid. Listen, air conditioning systems work by pushing a gas through many tiny orifices to change pressures and temperatures. If you add a chemical that plugs tiny orifices, what do you think will happen? Gunk, that's what happens. By the way, I know that it's not freon anymore. That was a trade name used by DuPont when they produced the old R-12 refrigerant. Now it is R-134a refrigerant, Tetrafluoroethane. Freon is just easier to say and more widely recognized, so I use it.

Don't get me started about the machine you can buy that plugs into your car and tells you what's wrong with it and what it'll cost to fix. If you believe these sales pitches, you would be prime meat for carnival barkers.

Remember them? "Step right up ladies and gentlemen, for the most unbelievable experience of your life!" Unfortunately, that style of selling works on some people. Personally, I would never buy anything from someone who was shouting at me, but that's just me. I told you not to get me started. Too late now. If you believe these promotions, you probably also believe that television commercials are no louder than the programming, because the networks said they were stopping that practice. Try listening. They snuck the volume back up, because they know that loudness works.

Adding tricks, gimmicks, magic fluids and snake oils to your car could be a HUGE mistake. Don't make me yell it.



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