TecHelp Tips | Accepted Trade Standards – Automotive Education and Training

Jan 18, 2010 by

The recent implementation of the new Accepted Trade Standards for Air Conditioning have raised new questions with the requirements, “Any automotive repair dealer that advertises or performs, directly or through a sublet contractor, automotive air conditioning work and uses the words service, inspection, diagnosis, top off, performance check or any expression or term of like meaning in any form of advertising or on a written estimate or invoice shall only do so when all of the following work is done…”  (SEE ATTACHED A/C REGS). 

At the top of the list is the question, if a “COMPLETE INSPECTION” is required can a repair dealer halt an inspection and what can they charge for their time? According to Bruce Wilson at the BAR’s Richmond Office, “A repair dealer may stop an Air Conditioning Inspection at any point when the repair facility finds a problem that prevents them from continuing.  Repair dealer can advertise an inspection service based on the complete list but may stop the inspection if repairs become necessary to perform the “Complete Inspection List.”

You may charge a reasonable amount for the time you have invested up to that point, if the customer declines to have you make the repairs.  “The key to this whole process will be the repair dealer’s communication process with the customer, from start to finish and every step along the way,” Wilson stated. “The repair dealer must inform the customer at the time the estimate is filled out as to the steps necessary to make a complete inspection. It is to everyone’s benefit that all parties understand the process.”

As an example Mr. Wilson stated that one of the first causes to stop an inspection could be finding contaminated or mixed gasses in the A/C system. He recommended gas identification as the first step in any A/C inspection service. “The service dealer must determine if they are properly equipped to handle the particular gasses in the cooling system.

A number of gas mixes have been on the market in recent years. You must identify and properly handle them. If you can not, you should refer the customer to a repair dealer who can properly handle it or back to the dealer who installed the gas into the system.” Then you can proceed with the inspection as listed in the code. An inspection sheet is the best way to make sure a “Complete Inspection” is preformed and each step is documented.

Other items that may cause you to stop an inspection early could be, broken or missing drive belt, low/no refrigerant gas, etc. If the refrigerant gas pressure is to low it will be necessary to bring the system up to a minimum pressure of 50 psi in order to inspect for leaks.  Call the customer and get authorization to install refrigerant before continuing the inspection.  Perform as much of the inspection as you can, to eliminate several estimate revisions with the customer.

When you have to stop the inspection because of a mechanical, electrical, refrigerant, or other problem that prevents you from continuing the complete test, inform the customer of the reason, what it will cost to correct the problem(s), and explain the work that needs to be completed before the inspection can be continue. Be sure to explain to the customer that other mechanical malfunctions may also be found along the way and will have to be handled in a similar manner as/if they are found.  One last word: Document, Document, Document on your work order and invoice. This is especially true if the customer declines repairs necessary to complete the inspection. 

Three years ago the question came up, “What do I do with contaminated air conditioning refrigerant?” At that time, I didn’t know the answer. I looked into it and found no one had a plan or program for this problem. So I came up with one myself. Last week I discussed it with the BAR and they have indicated they may adopt this method. Here is what I did:

I have an old R-12 recovery machine that has been replaced with a newer unit and have dedicated it to recovering problem refrigerant.

I found an approved bag made by Whirlpool (appliance manufacturer) that holds five pounds of refrigerant gas for industrial tech’s working on roofs or service buildings.  Hook the bag up to the system and fill the bag with contaminated refrigerant gas.  Bring the bag to me and I’ll trade you a full one for an empty.

Costs to you:

1 new (5 lb.) bag = $40

1 Service Fee = $40

per bag returned + $10       per       pound of gas.

You pay $40 (new bag) + $40 (service fee) + $10 per pound. I recommend you charge your customers $80 for the service + $10 per pound of contaminated gas. The prices are subject to change, based upon current supplier prices.  Any group could set up their own local service with the same program. You can solve the customer’s problem and help the environment. Call Doug for EPA disposal contact information.

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