Tips for technicians on the new refrigerant

April 25, 2024
A growing number of shops of all sizes are embracing the need to service vehicles charged with the new generation R-1234yf refrigerant.

A growing number of shops of all sizes — as well as the automotive DIY community — are embracing the need to service vehicles charged with the new generation R-1234yf refrigerant.

As our sales and customer service teams engage with shops and mechanics working more frequently with this new-generation refrigerant, we are fielding questions of a more technical nature. We covered some of the basics of the refrigerant in this article, but in this installment we dive deeper into the refrigerant’s properties, along with best practices for handling, packaging options, and more.

Is there really much difference, environmentally, between R-134a and R-1234yf?

Yes! While both refrigerants have zero ozone depletion potential (ODP), R-1234yf surpasses the legacy refrigerant when it comes to lowering the impact on global warming. R-1234yf has a global warming potential (GWP) of <1 (IPCC AR5), compared with R-134a’s GWP of 1,300 (IPCC AR5).

Does R-1234yf’s A2L classification put my crew and shop at significant risk?

Proper handling of R-1234yf and use of appropriate tools are key to ensuring a safe work environment. Moreover, R-1234yf has an A2L ASHRAE classification. This means it is a mildly flammable refrigerant and difficult to ignite. Assessment of properties — such as minimum ignition energy, heat of combustion, and burning velocity — indicates that a typical static electrical discharge will not have sufficient energy to ignite R-1234yf. Despite some misconceptions, A2Ls do not contain hydrocarbons. R-1234yf is a hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerant. HFOs are reliable, have undergone rigorous regulatory approval processes, and are considered safe for their intended uses.

Why can’t I use my current R-134a tools to service R-1234yf vehicles?

Certain safeguards are in place to prevent the mixing of the two refrigerants, which is illegal. Mixing refrigerants can also be unsafe and may compromise systems, performance, equipment and warranties. These safety checks include opposite thread fittings. R-1234yf tools require left-handed thread fittings, whereas R-134a tool fittings are right-hand threaded. You will also notice differences in service cylinders (DACS, cans); vehicle service fittings (Schrader valves); and R/R/R machines.

Is it true it takes longer to service a vehicle with R-1234yf than it does with R-134a?

The time to service vehicles with R-1234yf isn’t that much different. If you have the proper tools and familiarity on safety protocols, you should find servicing time comparable to that of R-134a. Be sure to read the SDS and owner’s manual to make sure you have the proper left-handed thread tools.

What oils and dyes should I avoid when using R-1234yf?

Even though many oils claim to be “yf compatible,” it is always best to use the oil designated by the compressor manufacturer. Not every oil has been tested for R-1234yf compatibility.

What will we need in terms of equipment, licensing and training if my shop needs to work with larger quantities of R-1234yf?

For shops doing ample business, Chemours Opteon YF is available in 10- and 25-pound single-use recyclable cylinders. To use these cylinders, you’ll need an R/R/R machine that meets SAE J2843, J2851, and J3030 standards; an R/R/R ultrasonic leak detector; an R-1234yf refrigerant identifier; and the proper (left-hand threaded) tools. In addition, you may need proper technician certification.

Under Section 609 of the Federal Clean Air Act, the EPA requires certification for you to purchase more than 2 pounds of R-1234yf. Chemours offers Opteon YF in 10- and 25-pound single-use recyclable cylinders, both of which require 609 certification. However, 12-oz. cans do not require 609 certification.

How do I determine if investing in an R/R/R machine is the right move for my shop?

If you’ll be providing R-1234yf service for 10 or more vehicles, it’s recommended you go with 10- or 25-pound cylinders. We hear from some customers that the cost of the required R/R/R machine “pays for itself” sooner than expected. As a general estimate, a typical shop can recoup the initial cost of the R-1234yf R/R/R machine by servicing 15 to 20 vehicles. Based on the growing number of R-1234yf vehicles on the road today, this could take as little as 16 months, depending on the types of vehicles coming into your shop. Investing in an R-1234yf R/R/R machine now gives you the opportunity to service these vehicles and gain new customers as well as repeat business.

How often will my R-1234yf R/R/R machine need maintenance?

The maintenance frequency for the R/R/R machine depends on how much you use it for recovery. As a rule, older models should be serviced once a year. However, one shop’s R/R/R machine didn’t require maintenance — a routine filter replacement — until approximately four years after it was purchased. Another option is to use a specialized company for annual preventive maintenance, which includes running the machine to check operation prior to your busy season. Check with your R/R/R machine supplier for recommendations.

What are my options if my shop isn’t doing much R-1234yf business right now and we need to keep costs down?

For shops providing R-1234yf service to fewer than 10 vehicles, Chemours Opteon YF is available in self-sealing cans.

  • 28-ounce self-sealing cans provide a cost-effective option for multiple-use charges or for servicing vehicles with greater charge sizes (such as SUVs and trucks), without the need for an R/R/R machine.
  • 12-ounce self-sealing cans provide a cost-effective option for single-use charges, without the need for an R/R/R machine.
  • 12-ounce self-sealing cans with a reusable charging hose offer a quick-connect coupler for easy low-side port connection.

Self-sealing cans offer the lowest initial cost for servicing a vehicle with R-1234yf. In addition to the refrigerant, you will need an R-1234yf manifold gauge and an R-1234yf-rated vacuum pump, as well as a recovery cylinder, scale, and lubricant for the vehicle.

Why can’t I find pierce-top cans of R-1234yf?

Pierce-top cans are no longer allowed by the EPA. The self-sealing can options available for Chemours Opteon YF meet EPA requirements, offer shops convenience, and minimize waste. When you remove the top, the can self-seals, allowing the remaining refrigerant to be safely stored and used at another time

If I use self-sealing cans, how long will the R-1234yf be safe and effective for use?

We recommend using any remaining Opteon YF in a self-sealing can within three years of initial use. You can maximize shelf life by storing cans in a cool, dry place (less than 125 degrees).

Why do I need to make the transition to R-1234yf?

Remember, there are more than 95 million R-1234yf-charged vehicles on U.S. roads, and every year, 15 million vehicles are removed from service. As the number of R-1234yf vehicles in use and in need of service continues to grow, shops can get a “leg up” on their competition and increase business by being equipped to keep R-1234yf jobs in-house. While the number of shops doing this is on the rise, not all independent service providers have the supply, correct tools and know-how to handle R-1234yf vehicles. By being the local shop that is ahead of the game, you should be able to service your current R-1234yf customers as well as customers of other area shops that aren’t properly prepared.

Review the first article in this series about the new vehicle refrigerant. To learn more about R-1234yf, view product information bulletins, download engineering property sheets, and more, visit

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