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SAFETY BULLETIN – VASA Members

VASA holds the view that AC systems should use only those refrigerants for which the AC system has been designed, engineered and approved by the system manufacturer, having met all relevant industry standards and engineering rigour.

It has been brought to VASA’s attention that a brand of hydrocarbon refrigerant sold in Australia as a ‘drop-in replacement’ for R134a now carries a warning on every cylinder. This warning describes concerns over the likely leakage of HC refrigerant from certain types of commonly used refrigerant hoses.

Hydrocarbon refrigerant hose warning label
Hydrocarbon refrigerant hose warning label

VASA must stress that the hose types mentioned have been engineered and certified for use with R134a, meet or exceed design expectations and pose no threat to occupant or technician safety when used with R134a refrigerant.

The claim of the HC refrigerant manufacturer about the suitability of their product as a ‘drop-in’ or ‘direct replacement’ must now be questioned. It stands to reason that the use of this HC product has been found to result in sufficient leakage of highly flammable refrigerant to be of concern to the manufacturer, resulting in the warning label being attached to every cylinder distributed to market.

The use of HC in a system not designed for it may now require expensive hose replacement for the ‘HC retrofit’ to remain ‘compliant’ with the HC manufacturer product claims. In most applications this would provide an unacceptable expense to the vehicle owner. Using HC refrigerant without hose replacement may lead to further repair costs and increased risk of incident should HC refrigerant leakage result, according to the information provided in the HC manufacturer warning label.

VASA has concerns for the safety of its members, the wider mobile AC industry and general light vehicle mechanic workforce. We urge members to take all necessary precautions and ensure refrigerant identification is carried out to establish the contents of all AC systems. Should the AC system contain a HC refrigerant we would advise extreme care be taken given the unknown state of the system hoses.

Important Points

  1. VASA strongly recommends the use of only those refrigerants for which the AC system has been designed.

  2. HC Refrigerant manufacturer now issuing warnings that their ‘drop-in’ replacement for R134a may result in the leakage of highly flammable refrigerant depending on the type of hose in use.

  3. Hose types referred to by the HC manufacturer pose no problem when used with R134a refrigerant.

  4. VASA is deeply concerned for the safety of the motoring public and technicians.

  5. VASA suggests all AC systems be treated with extreme caution and that accurate refrigerant identification be conducted to verify the contents of the AC system and the possibility of compromised hoses resulting in leakage of highly flammable refrigerant.

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