I'm replacing a bad air conditioning condenser in my '95 Grand Prix, and am having a tough time trying to get it out. What would be the best route to get the condenser out? Also, can you give me tips on how to charge the Freon after I replace the condenser?
I don't see anything major slowing you down. You have to disconnect the battery and remove the air cleaner and duct work. Then drain the coolant system and remove the radiator. After that, it's just a matter of disconnecting the refrigerant lines, a few brackets, and then pulling the condenser out from under the hood. It pays 1.8 hours on the labor time guide, so it can't be too bad. If it seems to be getting too involved, get it to a professional.
As far as Freon is concerned, first find out if the system was equipped with Freon (R-12 refrigerant) from the factory. The '95 model year can go either way, because R-12 was eliminated from production and replaced with 134A refrigerant right about that time. There should be a refrigerant information label under the hood specifying either/or.
If it is R-12, get a 134A conversion kit. They're cheap and available at any auto parts store, and it's the best way to go in lieu of the lack of availability and off the wall expense of R-12. Whether its R-12 or 134A, you can charge the system all by yourself.
The 134A conversion kit, or a do-it-yourself charging hose, will give instructions for a quick-fill of the system. But be sure you're adding the correct amount of refrigerant. Again, check the refrigerant label under the hood; it also will stipulate system capacity. If you're performing the 134A conversion, the kit will give a formula to figure out how much 134A you need. It's always going to be less then the system's R12 capacity, about 10%.
Now here's the one downside to doing it yourself. Whenever an A/C system is opened up and exposed to outside air, moisture accumulates within its components (compressor, evaporator, hoses, etc). The correct procedure is to evacuate the system, requiring the use of a refrigerant charging station with a vacuum pump. The pump creates vacuum within the system and slowly removes all the moisture in about an hour. Without the evacuation, moisture can contaminate the system and cause internal damage down the road.