06 Explorer AC leak | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

06 Explorer AC leak


September 15, 2009
Reaction score
Year, Model & Trim Level
`06 XLT
Hi all,
I've got an '06 explorer which appears to have an AC leak. After a bit of experimentation I believe it is coming from the rear of the vehicle.

The first symptom was that the front air on the driver's side would not get cold but the passenger's side would. Then it stopped getting cold altogether. I tried to recharge it but it quickly leaked out again. Then my son noticed a "hissing" sound coming from the rear left quarter panel.
There is a small plastic vented panel back there. I opened it and to my surprise (this is a new vehicle to me) it appears that there is a separate evaporator back there just for the rear air. Can anybody confirm this? And it appears the hissing (leaking) sound is coming from that area. Has anybody dealt with this before?
So based on the fact that the driver's side air wouldn't get cool, I'm guessing there must be three evaporators in the system (front-passenger, rear, front-driver) and the AC line must route through the three in that order. Since the leak is in the rear, no compressed refrigerant actually makes it to the driver's side evaporator. This is my theory anyway.

The symptoms began on a return trip from Disneyland to Utah. I don't know if the frequent AC use or the fluctuations in ambient temperature during that trip were a factor.

How much are we talking about here? To me the bulk of the work would be actually accessing the unit as I don't think that little plastic panel provides enough access to actually work on it.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.


Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Okay after examining a bit further I think the problem does not lie in the rear section. I believe the sound I'm hearing is merely the movement of air / fluid through the evaporator / lines in the rear. I can also feel movement through the return tube from the rear.

There is a fitting where the line runs through the firewall to the front-passenger side(I believe). There is significant moisture on the line right near this fitting. Is this normal. The lines appear to be dry everywhere else.

I don't even know what this fitting is called. It looks like two flanges that butt together with a plastic clamp to keep them together. I am AC ignorant.


Stop wasting your time and bring it to someone that knows A/C systems.
You answered your own question "I am AC ignorant" and diagnosing a dual system is best left to someone who knows. If the rear or front evaporator is leaking a sniffer will detect it immediately.

Z06 is right. If you don't know, a qualified professional will. But for your own reference I can answer most of the questions you asked. I'll try to go in order.
-Yes, you have two evaporators. One front, one rear.
-No, I have not personally dealt with the hissing. (I drive a ST). But the rear runs on an expansion valve. It can make a hissing noise as the pressurized R-134A runs through it. This is normal.
-You definitely only have 2 evaporators. However when the charge is low it can not fully cool the evaporator. It changes pressures and begins absorbing heat. Halfway through the evaporator it has absorbed all the heat it can carry and the last half doesn't get cool. That's why a low charge can cause a side to side difference.
- The condensation on the line running into the passenger side firewall is normal. If it were frozen or iced over this would not be normal.
-The pressure is applied to the front and rear equally. They are plumbed in parallel. If 175psi reaches the front restriction, (orifice tube) then you can bet your hat that 175psi is reaching the rear (Thermal Expansion Valve) at the same time.

You were right in the first assumption that you have a leak causing all this pandemonium. Recharging indefinitely may give you A/C but you will forever be spewing freon into the atmosphere. As Z06 said, an electric "sniffer" will find a leak pronto. Whatever you do, do not pump in any of that "leak stopper" type refrigerant. You will doom yourself to a huge repair bill in the long run. Better to pay a few hundred now to make your A/C run right instead of the bill becoming much larger for complete replacement because you wanted to "save a few bucks". A/C stopleak is a huge ripoff. It's just a bandaid.

Thanks for the info.

My intent was never to do the repair myself. Adding the refrigerant was only a test to confirm the presence of a leak. I had just hoped I might be able to isolate the location of the leak so as not to have the guy at the shop feed me a line and try to rip me off.

I've always done all my own auto repair work except for the AC so I'm always hesitant to put the car in someone else's hands.

Thanks again,