Ignacio Corella tipped us off to the pattern failure he’s noticed in the V-8 equipped Ford Explorer. This problem seems limited to model year 1996 -1998, but could affect many other systems equipped with steel accumulators.
As many of you know, accumulators are sometimes wrapped in foam to control condensation. In the case of the 1996 through 1998 Ford Explorer, excess moisture stays trapped between the insulating foam and the all-steel accumulator. This has created an accelerated corrosion problem in some vehicles. Rust eats through the outside of the accumulator and it’s often hard to see without removing the foam insulation.
Our suggestion is to carefully leak check the accumulator body on Explorers that come into the shop with low refrigerant charge. Check for signs of heavy corrosion and replace the accumulator if necessary.