Revised F-Gas regulation, which came into force in January 2015 is now beginning to affect workshops as reduced supplies of R134a gas drives increased costs.
Speaking to its members, the Independent Garage Association said: “If you haven’t restocked your refrigerant gases recently, you may be surprised to find that the cost has increased significantly.
“The IGA has been in contact with manufacturers, suppliers and trade bodies to try and find the root cause, but we still don’t have a clear picture or primary reason for the increase beyond the simple facts of supply and demand economics.
“The reduction in quota since the start of this year has made this more obvious.”
“In short supply”
The Garage Equipment Association said: “Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 includes a phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), such as air conditioning refrigerants, with R134a being one of them.
“Since 1 January 2015 a quota system has been introduced which limits the amount of refrigerant that producers and importers can distribute.
“Therefore R134a is in short supply and just like everything in life, if it’s in short supply the price increases and at the moment is being sold for around £400 per 12kg bottle.
“Many people in the aftermarket are beginning to think about filling R134a systems with R1234yf.
Filling R134a systems with R1234yf
“This may be possible, but will require modification to the vehicle’s system, such as replacing the receiver-dryer.
“You would also need to refill the vehicle using R1234yf service equipment fitted with adapters to change the size/design of the service ports.
“However always check with the vehicle manufacturer that no other modification is required and talk to your service equipment provider because they are also looking for replacement R134a solutions.”
The revised regulation was enforced to reduce F-Gas emissions by two thirds and to encourage the use of viable and more climate-friendly alternatives, according to the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF).
134a banned in new vehicles
The IAAF said: “The regulation introduced a quota system to limit and control the amount of HFCs that can be placed on the market in all applications.
“For the aftermarket, this particularly impacts the supply of 134a gas, used as the refrigerant in mobile air conditioning units on cars, LVs and CVs.
“From 1 January 2018, this phase down represents 63 per cent of 2015 levels and will decrease down to 45 per cent in 2021.
“At the same time, use of 134a gas in new vehicles was banned from 2017 and replaced with 1234yf which has a significantly lower global warming potential.
“This new gas is not subject to the F-Gas regulation.”
Share your comments and concerns below.