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Ok, I will come clean.... although I am hesitant posting this since people will say I was an idiot... and I probably am. But I need to know what to expect for a repair bill.

Installing a new horn today in stock location, but I needed to enlarge the hole in the horn bracket to fit my new one. I was being gentle as I gingerly worked my way through the existing hole and then SNAG - the drill bit caught in the hole and proceeded into the condenser (at least I think that is the name of it).

After a few choice words, I examined the damage and about 10 seconds later it began to hiss... very loudly. So I was confused because I didn't know if that was L/R132 leaking into the air or hot antifreeze.... or both! It smelled bad whatever it was.... but when I took a paper towel to the mess the towel was sopping up a green color.

So what the heck? Could I have gone through both? Looking at the damage it doesn't look like it even went through the condenser... I mean I don't even know how the heck I could have hit the radiator since it completely behind it....

Can a radiator repair shop fix a condenser that has a small piercing? Or am I screwed and have to buy the $310 condenser from the dealer. The radiator costs $355 from the dealer as well.

This absolutely sucks. Out of all the years I have worked on vehicles (including restoring my 59 Dodge), I have never jacked up anything this bad. And the worst thing is that I knew there was a chance of the bit snagging and pulling in the hole. :censored:

*edit - just edited the subject line of the post to fixed!
 

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You definately pierced your condensor. The green dye is from the a/c lubricant used to lube the compressor and moving parts. I doubt you hit the radiator at all from the way you describe it.

You don't need to get the condensor fixed right away technically... the damage is done and all that can be expected is your A/C won't work so no big deal.

Call a radiator shop and see if they repair condensors, most likey if its not too bad they might. Otherwise youll need to replace the condensor plus about 1.5 lbs of R134a refrigerant plus have your a/c system vacuumed and pressure tested and then recharged. I think most Jiffy Lubes or lube places can do the a/c recover/recharge so really you can just replace the condensor yourself.
 

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turbizzy said:
You don't need to get the condensor fixed right away technically... the damage is done and all that can be expected is your A/C won't work so no big deal.
From what I understand about A/C systems, any air that is allowed to get into the system over time can degrage the system, so leaving a hole in the condenser over an extended period of time might not be the best thing....
 

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Thank you both for the analysis on the situation. It would be great if it is repairable without having to replace the whole thing.

That green stuff really surprised and confused me so its great to have that cleared up.

I think what I will do today is to go and warm it up real good and see if anything else (meaning the radiator) is leaking.

I also was talking with a parts guy at the local Chevy dealership and we were having a discussion about the defroster. He didn't seem to think it would be a bad idea to run the defroster when needed, but I insisted to him that that shouldn't be done. He doesn't (and was very persistent) that the AC compressor doesn't come on when defrost is running but I beg to differ.

So to be on the safe side I guess I won't run the defroster...

Thanks!

Rob
 

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I feel your pain.... i did the exact same thing.... And yeah the nice green cloud was fun and toxic.... I left mine open with the hole in it for like 3 or 4 months till i could find a new one and a descent deal on one and now that it's fixed it works better than before. I ended up gettin the new one from ebay.... it was like $150 or $200 and the swap was pretty easy, it's easier if you take the plastic skid plate off the bottom but besides that it's not that hard. The fun part comes in with the recharging the system that unless you have the experiance (8 years residential HVAC) and equipmnt like i did i recommend having it done by a professional becuase the system is going to have to be pulled into a nice deep vacuum to get any moisure or other contaminents out before you can put freon back into it.
 

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mikeskillz01 said:
I feel your pain.... i did the exact same thing.... And yeah the nice green cloud was fun and toxic....
:lol: I laughed and laughed when I read that this morning. Your right, it was toxic.... and somewhat fun :shock: . When it happened, I grabbed a nearby sheet and threw it over the front of the truck and booked it over to the garage door opener, then left the premises for a while wondering what the heck just happened.

Well, I left the truck running for about 15 or 20 minutes until it got to full operating temperature and then checked for leaks. I am leak-free in the radiator department!

Now I just have to take it in tomorrow morning and get an estimate on the rest of the damage (I am glad I have tomorrow off so I can take care of this).

And so I cannot run the defroster, right? Don't want the compressor to come on and eject the rest of the freon and lubricating oil out the front end and possibly cause the compressor to seize....

Thank you all for your comments. This is helping calm my nerves a lot. Will let you know what happens tomorrow.

Too bad you don't live closer mikeskillz01 - I would rather pay you to fill the system back up. :)

Thanks,

Rob
 

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OK Frugalrado and Mikeskillz have some very good points.

1. Yes you don't really want to leave the A/C system with a hole in it too long that way since moisture will get inside and can damage the system such as rusting parts from the inside and also your a/c system has a receiver/dryer which is sortof like a filter/storage tank that has dessicant (kinda like absorbent silica crystals). This dessicant is meant to keep the refrigerant nice and clean and dry and moisture free but if you leave the system open (leaking) for too long then the dessicant becomes exhausted and no longer can do its job so therefore the receiver/dryer will need replacement as well. Definately get it fixed as soon as you can if you plan on using your A/C soon and to prevent more damage. If you live in an area where there is little moisture/humidity then its prob ok just to replace the condensor, the receiver/dryer is probably ok to reuse. BTW the receiver/dryer is that little silver canister looking thingy in front of the condensor visible through the grille.

2. Yes, anytime you put the mode selector to DEFROST or FOOT/DEFROST the A/C compressor is suppose to turn on and help demudify the windsheild so you can see better quicker. This was federally mandated on all newer cars some years ago. HOWEVER the a/c system has many checks and ratfinks such as pressure switches, it knows if you have a leak or if there is too little refrigerant in the system and therefore even though you turn the defroster on or a/c button on IT WILL NOT turn the compressor on. This is to prevent damage to the a/c system in case it is leaking and all the oil has leaked out. So basically you have nothing to worry about, you can put it on defrost all you want its not gonna activate the a/c compressor until you get it fixed no matter if you want it to or not.

I agree with Mikeskillz, after you fix the leak, have the system professionally serviced. Have them pull a vacuum for at least 20 minutes to make sure all the moisture is boiled/evaporated out the system and only then can you recharge it. Most "good" lube places have these machines but i'd recommend a good a/c shop or a dealer.
 

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turbizzy said:
OK Frugalrado and Mikeskillz have some very good points.

1. Yes you don't really want to leave the A/C system with a hole in it too long that way since moisture will get inside and can damage the system such as rusting parts from the inside and also your a/c system has a receiver/dryer which is sortof like a filter/storage tank that has dessicant (kinda like absorbent silica crystals). This dessicant is meant to keep the refrigerant nice and clean and dry and moisture free but if you leave the system open (leaking) for too long then the dessicant becomes exhausted and no longer can do its job so therefore the receiver/dryer will need replacement as well. Definately get it fixed as soon as you can if you plan on using your A/C soon and to prevent more damage. If you live in an area where there is little moisture/humidity then its prob ok just to replace the condensor, the receiver/dryer is probably ok to reuse. BTW the receiver/dryer is that little silver canister looking thingy in front of the condensor visible through the grille.

2. Yes, anytime you put the mode selector to DEFROST or FOOT/DEFROST the A/C compressor is suppose to turn on and help demudify the windsheild so you can see better quicker. This was federally mandated on all newer cars some years ago. HOWEVER the a/c system has many checks and ratfinks such as pressure switches, it knows if you have a leak or if there is too little refrigerant in the system and therefore even though you turn the defroster on or a/c button on IT WILL NOT turn the compressor on. This is to prevent damage to the a/c system in case it is leaking and all the oil has leaked out. So basically you have nothing to worry about, you can put it on defrost all you want its not gonna activate the a/c compressor until you get it fixed no matter if you want it to or not.

I agree with Mikeskillz, after you fix the leak, have the system professionally serviced. Have them pull a vacuum for at least 20 minutes to make sure all the moisture is boiled/evaporated out the system and only then can you recharge it. Most "good" lube places have these machines but i'd recommend a good a/c shop or a dealer.
turbizzy,

Thank you so much for your analysis and recommendation. After reading it carefully this morning (multiple times) I decided that you're right and better take it in to get it fixed ASAP. It is also nice to know the folks at GM are watching out for us and won't let the compressor kick on in case of situations like this :) - valuable information to know.

So this morning I started calling around to see if I could get some quotes. I found a place in a small city about 15 miles from my house that was considerably cheaper on the labor front (also a bit cheaper on the parts front to which means they are pocketing less for list price on the item).

Nice folks, although they had never worked on a Colorado so I showed them how to take the grille off the front (I have it down to an art now - like 30 seconds!). They had a ton of questions about the truck itself including how I liked it and everything so it was nice to be able to share that with them.

In light of your vacuum suggestion, I monitored and made sure they did that part as well and they did (I would have never known about that if you all didn't tell me about it).

So now the sleigh bells jingle when I flip on the AC and the original project of installing the horn is done! So I dub this adventure "My $500 Horn Project".

Here are some pics:


The new condenser is black, so I guess that is a plus! Can't say it justified the cost though... :lol:




Ewww... time to clean out the engine bay again.... it was clean 3 months ago - I swear! This is how I connected the power to the relay for the horn.


Something else I had to laugh at is that they said this is not the first time they have had a vehicle in that had the condenser pierced (by a human) and had to replace it. In fact, they said they get them in often where someone has accidentally stabbed or bent something on a radiator or condenser... except usually it involves a screwdriver, not so often a drill!

Thanks again for all your help. And by the way - the horn sounds awesome!
 

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How's the horn sound? I have a Wolo dual air horn and it sounds like an older Cadilac! lol do you use your factory button?
 
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