Isuzu Dmax Aircon Evaporator failure number 2

Driving Blue Rag Range 4WD track was amazing, and I was on top of the world (almost literally) when we arrived at Trig Point, and got out to enjoy the incredible scenery. That level of elation quickly evaporated (you’ll get that, shortly!), when we hopped back into our Isuzu Dmax and realised that our aircon had died, again.

Do Blue Rag Range; its fantastic
On top of Blue Rag Range Track, moments away from realising our aircon is broken again

Our Dmax aircon history

If you’ve been following along our Evaporator was replaced under warranty in Perth before we began our Big Lap of Australia. This is a common problem, and despite whispers of newer, better designed evaporators, and lots of people installing aftermarket brackets, they’re still cracking and failing in large numbers.

We lost aircon for the second time when heading out to Stanage Bay, and our Inner Guards Cracked in a shocking way, breaking the main aircon line where it attaches to the inner guard. This was again all fixed under warranty in Brisbane in the following weeks, and we’ve been appreciating aircon ever since.

Cracked inner guard on our Isuzu Dmax
The inner guard failure took out our aircon for the second time

You don’t really need aircon, right?

It’s funny that even in the Victorian High Country, where you’d think you can do without aircon, its really important. The air blowing in without the cooling of the aircon is too hot, and having the windows down when doing 4WD tracks that are dusty is not much fun at all.

I picked Sarah back up, who’d been out taking photos of our vehicle, and she picked up on my change of mood almost immediately. ‘Our Aircon’s broken again’, I say, and the drive back to camp is rather quiet. We did however, inhale a fair bit of dust as the windows had to be open, and I wasn’t that happy when we arrived back at Devils Hollow.

Blue Rag Range 4WD track is brilliant
The amount of dust that gets into your vehicle on a slow 4WD track like this with windows open is insane

I made a number of phone calls the next day, trying to find somewhere that would fit us in, but they all had at least 2 week lead times, and we had no idea where we’d be at that stage.

Car problems when you are on a lap of Australia with a young family add an enormous amount of frustration and challenge, and when you’re without aircon its never a good time.

In the coming days, I did a heap of reading online, and ringing around and the 3 Isuzu dealers in Canberra do not get a good rap in terms of servicing, so I kept looking north, with no real idea of where we’d be.

Eventually, I got onto Moss Vale Isuzu, who were quite helpful on the phone, mentioned that there’s a show ground that you can camp at right behind them, and I’d seen that they had a good reputation. We locked it in 3 weeks in advance, and continued our trip through the Alpine Way and Kosciuszko National Park, before heading closer to Canberra.

Getting it fixed

As it turned out, we were miles off where we thought we would be, and had to drive up to Moss Vale and back down again after, only to head north later on to do the Blue Mountains, but that’s the gamble you take booking it in advance.

I’d been very clear in explaining our situation, and made allowance for 3 full days if needed, and was shocked when I was told upon dropping it off at 7:30 in the morning that ‘there’s no chance it will get done this week’. They were swamped with several other large jobs, including an engine swap, and whilst I could sympathise, I was really angry, given the preparation we’d made to be there on time, to be without our car and to sit around at a showground for 3 days. I explained our situation again, and was told they’d see what they could do.

They called back at 4PM, and said it was the evaporator and that they’d fix it, all under warranty (including the labour) and we’d have the vehicle back just over 2.5 days later. I was somewhat relieved as it could have been way worse.

We did what we could around Moss Vale for the 3 days, and collected the vehicle with a working aircon again. Harrington Isuzu also replaced the front brake pads that were well due, and the viscous fan hub, that was no longer roaring at 97 degrees, and doing its job properly.

It was rubbing on the air inlet

When I picked our Dmax up after the evaporator replacement, I popped the bonnet, and had a quick look, before driving off. At camp though, I looked again, and noticed that the solid aircon line in the engine bay was awfully close to the plastic air inlet, to the point that there were rub marks, and I’m certain it would touch when off road, or the engine moved under load.

Given that the engine moves, and the aircon pipe is fixed to the firewall, I was concerned that the two would contact, and it would cause another failure. I hopped back in the care and drove around the corner again, to speak to a technician about it.

He came out, and when I pointed it out, he said ‘yeah, I had a hard time with that’. Before I could say anything, he leaned over into the engine bay and bent the pipe away from the plastic part, in a downwards motion towards the passenger side. I was horrified, as I’ve been told that leaning on them causes the evaporator to crack, and after a big detour and sitting around in a showground for 3 days I was not prepared to do it again.

I asked him whether doing that contributes to stress on the evaporator, and he suggested it didn’t. I asked to see the old evaporator, and he brought it out, and I had a good look at it. Leaning on the solid pipe in the engine bay would put force on the firewall, but I’d be very surprised if nothing went through into the next section of pipe, and then the evaporator, priming it for early failure.

Looking at photos from other vehicles and from our original setup, the solid line is now much lower towards the passenger side than it should be, and I was really frustrated with the morning.

Evaporator pipe bent out the way
The aircon pipe was bent out the way, in the wrong direction

I got back to camp and rang Isuzu Ute Australia, to ask to speak to an engineer to find out more about why they crack, and whether an aftermarket support was actually worth while doing, along with whether the leaning on the pipe would have done any damage (and to get it logged, in case it did fail). The customer service representative suggested we should ask a technician, or go to another dealer, which I thought was ludicrous and unhelpful, and I  kept pushing.

In the end he agreed to see if he could get feedback, so I’ll wait and see. 

Ironically, by the end of the day the pipe had moved from its 12 odd mm gap that was made by the technician back to just a couple of millimetres! I’m expecting our aircon to fail again very soon because of this, but we’ll see.

EDIT – Broken aircon number 4

Yep, as I suspected, our new aircon worked for a whopping 3 days, and not even 300km, before we heard the gas leak out whilst driving in the Brindabellas, leaving us with no aircon once again. You can read more about this here – Isuzu Dmax aircon woes

Evaporator failure on our Dmax
Our Dmax evaporator broke again, requiring replacement after 3 days

Parting thoughts

Overall, I was pretty annoyed to have the aircon break again, and even more to see the line leaned on with a brand new evaporator in place. I purchased a 3D printed bracket a few weeks back that I was going to fit, but I reckon it won’t mount now with the pipe in the position its in. This is to stop the evaporator pipe moving around so much, but apparently they’re still breaking even with this on, so is it actually a proper fix?

There’s been whispers of newly designed evaporators, but I have no idea whether ours had that already, or if there’s a 3rd revision, and no real way of finding out.

I’m very glad Isuzu are covered it under warranty, given the vehicle had done 120,000km and is well out of warranty (2016 model), but wonder if its just going to happen again, and at what point they’ll stop providing replacements.

I also rang an aftermarket evaporator supplier, who said the genuine Isuzu ones are just rubbish, and he’d never recommend fitting one. An aftermarket one is $285, plus a re-gas and labour to fit it, coming to around $1800.

All in all, not what I want to be dealing with, let alone on a Lap of Australia with our family, and the Dmax problems we’ve had over the last year are starting to really annoy me.

How many Dmax or MUX evaporators have you had replaced?

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