A/C Decision Making

In a previous post I wrote that I was leaning towards adding air conditioning to my car. I have now decided that I will make the switch from heat only to heat and A/C. The next issue was that there were three main manufacturers of A/C conversion kits and I had to to choose which system to install. I did quite a bit of research, looking at online discussion forums and reviews, reading the instruction manuals, making calls to the individual manufacturers, and comparing prices.

Just in case you haven’t read my prior post, the three systems I am considering are:

From reading reviews and the Mustang forums I learned that all the systems were well liked by the people who had them installed on their cars. There was some mention of certain systems being more suited to a particular model year of Mustang, but nothing really definitive on that. So based on reviews there was no clear winner. The good news was that it seemed there was no loser and that all the systems are well designed and work well.

I did some online searching with the Mustang parts vendors to compare prices. According to the manufacturers web sites all the prices were within a few hundred dollars of each other. The Classic Auto Air system was the most expensive at the time I researched, but not enough more to make me rule it out. The Vintage Air system was the least expensive, and was available from more vendors than the other systems. I also compared what additional parts I might need to purchase as that also affects the price. The Vintage Air system left it up to the purchaser to source the crank and water pump pullies. The Old Air system included a crank pulley but not a water pump pulley. I was never able to get a definitive answer as to which pullies are included for the Classic Auto Air system as I could never get through on the phone to their sales people. I would wait on hold for a period of time and then I would be disconnected. This happened multiple times, which didn’t speak well for their customer service.

I obtained the installation manuals for each of the products so that I could attempt to compare how difficult the installations were. They were all fairly similar. There were some differences in regards to modifications that were needed to install the hardware, but no really big differences. There were two things that stood out for me. The first is that the Vintage Air manual instructs you to remove a brace from the dash by the glove box. My concerns is that this might weaken the structure enough to cause some rattles, although I don’t know that it would cause any issues. The second item is that I felt that the Classic Auto Air instructions were the clearest and easiest to follow, at least for me. This pleasantly surprised me because from reading the forums there were a number of complaints that the instructions were lacking or unclear. Apparently Classic Auto Air has updated their instructions to address this complaint.

At this point I still didn’t have a clear winner. It was now time to compare features. As far as the controls go, each system adapts the existing heater controls to an electronic control system. Both the Vintage Air and Old Air systems had infinitely adjustable fan speeds while the Classic Auto Air system had fixed fan speeds. Not a big deal but I’m at the point of picking nits now. The Vintage Air evaporator case is sealed and the parts inside are not serviceable by the end user. The Classic Auto Air and Old Air systems were serviceable. The one big standout for me was that the Old Air system didn’t appear to provide floor heating vents. For people in areas where it doesn’t get that cold it probably wouldn’t be an issue but it was enough for me to rule out the Old Air system.

That still left me with the Classic Auto Air and Vintage Air systems, with no clear winner. At this point i let price be the deciding factor. With the current Black Friday sales going on, I was able to get the Vintage Air system for around $200 less than the Classic Auto Air system, and with free shipping as well.

I placed my order and was told I can expect the system in about 4 weeks. That should give me plenty of time to plan, study the installation manual, and find the pullies I need. I plan to discuss the pulley selection process in my next post.