Ask the Expert: How can I use forming gas to check for A/C leaks?

May 2, 2018
This method uses a pressurized mixture of nitrogen and helium to detect leaks instead of utilizing standard automotive refrigerant.

There are several methods for detecting leaks in vehicle air conditioning systems. A new and highly popular leak detection method being used extensively in Europe utilizes forming gas. The method has come about through European legislative mandates and is already approved for use by one major automaker in the U.S. Other U.S. automakers have not yet stated a position on the use of this method.

This method uses a pressurized mixture of nitrogen and helium to detect leaks instead of utilizing standard automotive refrigerant. Leaks are found using a specialized detector designed to pinpoint any forming gas that is escaping. There are several advantages of utilizing a forming gas for leak detection. For example, the cost of the forming gas is much less expensive when compared to R-1234yf refrigerant. In addition, nitrogen and helium will not add to global warming as with R-134a or other refrigerants.

We do not see aftermarket shops adopting this method until several years down the road. It is something you should be aware of and prepared for, should the EPA follow its colleagues in Europe and make this method mandatory. 

Information provided by: Mahle Service Solutions

About the Author

Eric Shultz | Engineering Manager, MAHLE Service Solutions

Eric Shultz serves as the engineering manager for MAHLE Service Solutions and is based at the company’s location in York, Pennsylvania.

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