Ever since Ford made cars accessible to the general public with the Model T, engineers have worked year after year to improve vehicles, making them more efficient, powerful, and comfortable. One of these advances that most take for granted is air conditioning. The first car that could be optioned with A/C from the factory was the 1940 Packard. Now, over 80 years later, nearly all new vehicles come equipped with air conditioning.
Since 1940, air conditioning in cars and trucks has become more efficient, environmentally friendly, smaller, and better packaged. In addition to components in the system, the refrigerant used to cool the air entering the cabin has changed. Since 2020, a new refrigerant, R-1234YF, has been used in new vehicles. This new refrigerant can provide better fuel economy and has less impact on the environment. In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about R-1234YF.
What is Refrigerant?
Refrigerant is a substance with a low boiling point that cycles between a liquid and gaseous state. The refrigerant flows through the components of an A/C system like the compressor, condenser, and evaporator, removing heat and allowing colder air to blow into the cabin of your car or truck.
A Brief History of A/C Refrigerant in Cars and Trucks
Automotive manufacturers have used a few different refrigerants over the years, changing as technology and environmental regulations changed.
R12 was the first refrigerant used in automotive A/C systems, from 1940 until the mid-1990s when it was banned due to its severe environmental impacts. Freon is a brand name that has become a catchall term for A/C refrigerant, but only R12 was produced under that name.
Nowadays, it can be hard to find a shop with the capacity to service older R12-equipped vehicles, and many classic car owners convert the A/C system to work with a modern refrigerant.
R12 has a GWP (global warming potential) of 10200.
In 1996, R12 refrigerant was fully phased out of new vehicles and replaced with 134a. 134a is far less harmful to the environment, as it is not ozone-depleting. 134a is not as effective at cooling as the R12 it replaced, but environmental regulations pushed the change.
134a has a GWP of 1300.
Why Are Manufacturers Switching to R-1234yf?
The EPA ordered a complete transition from 134a to R-1234yf by the mid-2020s. The new refrigerant is even more environmentally friendly than 134a, with a GWP of just 1. Besides the reduced environmental impact, 12134yf refrigerant systems are less likely to leak and may not require as frequent service.
A potential downside to the new refrigerant is its cost, which is significantly more than the 134a it replaces. However, with the less service required, the higher price can be mitigated.
What Does 1234yf Mean for Me?
Nothing. If you have a newer vehicle that uses it, make sure your repair shop is equipped to service A/C systems with 1234yf. If you own an older car that uses 134a, don’t worry. The transition will take place over time, and you will still be able to get your air conditioning serviced or recharged. With so many vehicles on the road still using it, 134a will continue to be produced.
As automakers transition to 1234yf refrigerant, you will likely start to hear more and more about it. We hope this article helped clear up any questions or concerns you may have had about your vehicle’s air conditioning system!
Air Conditioning Service at Becker Service Center
Whether you own a car with 134a or 1234yf, the technicians at Becker Service Center have the skills and experience needed to service and recharge your air conditioning system. Unsure what refrigerant you have in your car? Our friendly service advisors can tell you! If your air conditioning isn’t working as it should, give us a call or schedule an appointment online at our Naperville repair shop today!