Tacoma AC

The Project:

Decided to try fixing my own AC on my 2005 Toyota Tacoma.

Bought a vacuum pump and gauges online, and a filler valve/gauge from Partsource. Got my coolant from Canadian Tire.

I watched the Chris Fix video here and followed his instructions.


I ran into a couple of stumbling blocks that he didn’t mention.

One, he opened his valve on the coolant and it immediately shot in. My valve had a “sweet spot” in between open and closed that let the coolant flow. I closed the low pressure valve on the gauge set, and played with the coolant valve until the pressure started climbing, then opened up the low pressure valve again.

It took about 10 minutes for the most of the can to get pumped in to the system. Note that the Canadian Tire coolant doesn’t weigh the same as the original one. It’s apparently more environmentally friendly, so the 9oz Red Tek 12a can is equivalent to 680g of R-134 coolant. My 2005 Tacoma needs 620g. I just let it run until the can felt empty. I figured that residuals, line fill, and purge losses would make up that difference.

To see if there was anything significant left in the can, I would turn off the low pressure valve, and see if the pressure on the can side increased. If so, I’d open the valve back up.

Bonus Hurdle:

After using the AC for a few hours – and the timing was great, it got running just as the heat picked up – I started hearing an alarming splashy-boiling-pressure-squeal noise coming from behind the glove box.

After a bit of searching about, it seems that it’s common to get a plug in the condensate drain. I pulled out the glove box, and pulled the drain line back inside, as it just goes through a hole in the firewall.

I didn’t have a bucket shallow enough to get under it, so I improvised with a pool noodle, which was hollow, and could guide the water out of the truck.

So I put a straw in to the tube, sealed around it with my finger, and blew some air into it. When I heard the bubbles, I put the drain tube into the pool noodle, and quite a bit of gritty black water came out.

I fed the drain tube back through the firewall once it stopped flowing, and it hasn’t bugged me again yet.

The Impracticality:

In addition to the couple of hours of work, and the few trips to various stores to find the right supplies, This project set me back about $350.

Canadian Tire quoted $250-300 to do the job.

I think a $50-$100 premium was well worth the educational experience. Now I know how to fix an AC system, and I have the tools.

When I posted that to social media, I quickly had a couple of friends with similar vintage Tacomas with no working AC message me. So it looks like we’ll get a bit more practice.