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Since R-134a is less efficient than the freon it replaced, the loss of efficiency had to be overcome somehow.
I'll use my 1992 LS400 as an example. My 1984 T-bird's A/C evaporator had approximatly 2500 square inches of heat exhanging, metal cooling surface area. The 1992 LS400's evaporator had over 10,000 square inches of metal cooling surface area (the LS was not converted to R-134a until later, but Lexus advised me that the A/C system had been designed even with the first LS model with the conversion to R-134a in mind)
At about the same time a passenger airbag was added and then an in-dash CD changer/player. So at about the same time the A/C evaporator had to become more complex to make up for the loss of refrigerant efficiency it was also growing more compact.
On browsing the internet you will find that Ford, if you complain mightily, will "cure" the mold and mildew odor problem by installing a product like, or maybe this actual product"
I understand that many Saturn models come from the factory equipped with an equivalent device.
As a fix GM is also installing a similar device. I had it done and it helps, but does not stop the odor completely. The above link has explains a temp fix that is supposed to last 3 years. Involves coating the coils with a chemical spray. GM is not using this fix, however, so if you want it installed you will have to find a shop to do it and pay...oh well. I don't like it, but I've learned to live with it. When I get in I blow it out on high for about 1-2 minutes and the odor disappears until the next day. Good luck!
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