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Fixing AC vs heat blocking window film

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    Fixing AC vs heat blocking window film

    Alright folks so it will be getting warmer where I live in the coming months and I am trying to figure out how to keep myself cool when the temps hit 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. My car still has its original R12 AC components but they are not functioning. When I push the button with the snowflake symbol, the compressor clutch does not engage, leading me to believe either the clutch is faulty or it is not getting the voltage it needs to engage due to an electrical fault somewhere else in the system.

    I'm thinking that there will be a lot more maintenance that is needed to be done even if I were to get the compressor clutch issue sorted out since this AC system is 34 years old and probably leaking all over the place. Not to mention the compressor, condenser, and evaporator are probably shot after 34 years of little to no maintenance. All in all I am probably looking at $2000+ parts and labor just to have a functioning AC again.

    This has led me to look into heat blocking window film. I am thinking of going with a higher percentage film to avoid having the "tinted" look. This could run me anywhere from $100-500 depending on whether I do the work myself or whether I pay a guy and on the quality of film I get.


    Which do you guys think I should do? Would heat resistant film be a good substitute for a busted AC or should I just suck it up and fix the AC? Does anyone here have experience using heat resistant film? If you recommend the heat resistant film route, what films would you recommend?

    #2
    The window film makes a pretty good difference especially if you also do the windshield, but it's not nearly as good as a good working AC.
    First e30 - 1991 318i 4 door

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      #3
      Dont do the windscreen other wise you cant see at night.

      I have the darkest tint i can get on mine (previous owner) and it makes a huge difference. E30 used to have AC but it's broken. The tint diesnt make up for it unfortunatly...

      My daily driver has tint and AC. The AC is good but the sun is still quite nasty without the tint.

      I tinted my.house and it made a huge difference, and if i will be tinting my new daily too. The UV especially in australia is just so nasty youve got to keep it from coming in the windos.

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        #4
        Originally posted by z28
        The window film makes a pretty good difference especially if you also do the windshield, but it's not nearly as good as a good working AC.
        I'm happy as long as I am not cooking inside my car.

        Originally posted by e30davie
        Dont do the windscreen other wise you cant see at night.
        What if I get a light tint done on my windscreen, like 70% VLT? From what I've read on reddit, people are able to see just fine in the night at 70% but any lower than that and you run into visibility issues. I was thinking of going with this stuff called Photosync. From what I've heard it rejects the most solar energy out of any film made and doesn't look too dark while doing it.

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          #5
          Like others said, tint may help but nothing compared to a working AC. I have a fully rebuilt AC is my E30 and it blows so cold, I have to keep it on 0 most of the time, and I live in sunny California. Granted, I did spend around $1000 on the system, replacing everything.

          If your compressor clutch is not turning on, its most likely not a wiring issue but a lack of charge in the system. If the AC system has low charge, it will not trigger the clutch on. I've used a product from a company called Enviro-safe that works really well. I have restored the AC system on many E30's with the R12 system with great success but not always, especially if the system has a leak or the compressor is too far worn and will not build pressure. If you go with the envirosafe stuff, you would use the R134A system, which is compatible with both R134A and R12. They do not say that on the website but i've spoken with their engineers over the phone and they confirm their formula works on both systems and I have seen it work on both myself. So for a little investment of a few cans and the recharge manifold, you may be able to restore your AC. If you add two cans into the system, you should see your clutch start working again. If the clutch works and the air is still not cold, then you will most likely need to replace or rebuild the AC compressor and or replace the condenser too. There are not many resources for the AC rebuild services but there is a guy by the name of Jay Stratton from the BMW E24 boards, you can google him and he specializes in rebuilding them, he rebuilt mine and my AC performs better than my E46 M3. Good luck.
          Owner - Bavarian Restoration
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            #6
            Originally posted by ZeKahr View Post
            What if I get a light tint done on my windscreen, like 70% VLT? From what I've read on reddit, people are able to see just fine in the night at 70% but any lower than that and you run into visibility issues. I was thinking of going with this stuff called Photosync. From what I've heard it rejects the most solar energy out of any film made and doesn't look too dark while doing it.
            Do what you will, in my region its illegal to tint over 10% on the front. anything to block the UV is good, but really just tint the sides and back and get your AC fixed:)

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              #7
              Just got 3M Crystalline 70 installed on my side windows and rear window. You can barely tell its there. Already notice a big difference in interior temps. Night visibility is unaffected. Going to eventually do the windshield too as I doubt cops will even notice it. I’m also going to place packets of silica gel in carefully selected areas of the interior to reduce humidity in the summer. I’ll see how the interior feels during summer here in NJ with those two tactics before deciding to fix my AC.

              Here’s a pic of the tint:

              Last edited by ZeKahr; 03-22-2020, 10:32 AM.

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