Why Does My Cars A/c System Need Recharged
Like the air conditioning system in your house, your cars climate control system uses refrigerant to cool the ventilated air and lower the temperature of the cabin. Over time, the system will use up this condensed fluid, and the vents will only blow room-temperature or hot air. If this is happening to you, youll need to inject some refrigerant back into your car by recharging the A/C.
How Do You Detect And Repair Leaks In The Air Conditioning Unit
Create a solution of water and dish soap and decant this into a spray bottle. Open the hood of your car and spray this solution over the air conditioning unit. You should ensure that the entire unit is covered in a film of your solution to make sure that you dont miss any leaks.
Once you have sprayed, watch the surface of the air conditioner. If there are any leaks present, you should begin to see some bubbles forming. This works following the same principle as when you are checking bike tires for a puncture.
If the bubbles that you can see are infrequent and slow to form, this indicates that your leak is small. If the bubbles appear to be foaming then the leak is likely to be large. This will often require professional assistance to repair.
If you have small leaks then you can use a recharge kit that contains a sealant. Try to look out for products that say the sealant is a conditioner. This ensures that it will not clog the pipes of your cars engine if the sealant is gooey then it will build up and cause blockages.
How To Recharge Your Car Air Conditioning
When your cars air conditioning begins to lose power and doesnt blow cool air, it may be time for an AC recharge. Recharging your AC means adding more refrigerant to your AC system to allow the air to start blowing cold again.
Important to know: recharging your AC is a temporary fix to a likely bigger problem. If your system is indeed missing refrigerant, your air conditioning system has a leak and needs to be inspected and repaired with a certified mechanic. Refrigerant does not evaporate in an airtight system, so air must be leaking in.
- Note: Some older vehicles cannot have their AC unit recharged. These vehicles generally fall before the year 1995 and use an R12 refrigerant no longer made. The only option is AC replacement.
Though an ac recharge can be completed at home, it is still considered a more professional repair, as it contains work with hazardous liquid and is best left for a certified mechanic.
Read Also: How To Fix Rust On Your Car
Your Cars Air Conditioner Operates On A Closed System
Considering your cars tires, brakes, and fluids need to be changed in regular intervals, for the most part, you would think that its air conditioning system follows the same type of schedule. However, that is not the case since it runs on a closed system.
A closed system means that your cars A/C system recirculates the refrigerant which is the coolant that makes the air that comes out of the vents cold so if it needs to be recharged, then there could be a leak in the system. However, cars do tend to lose some refrigerant over time naturally, but its typically not enough to warrant a recharge every year.
As Cars.com noted, Unless your cars A/C is in need of repair, theres no need to top off the system.
What Happens If You Add Too Much Freon
Having too much refrigerant in your AC can damage the compressor. This can happen because the excess refrigerant will likely collect inside the compressor and cause subcooling, wherein temperatures are below normal. Furthermore, the extra refrigerant can flood the compressor and damage its mechanical parts.
You May Like: How To Find Tire Size On Car
Hooking Up The Gauges
Gauges up close
The first thing to do is hook up the manifold gauges. As shown in the picture, there are three hoses, two gauges, and two valves. The left gauge, left valve, and blue hose hook up to the low-pressure side. The right gauge, right valve, and red hose hook up to the high-pressure side. The yellow hose connects to both sides through the valves. To start, make sure both valves are turned all the way to the right / closed.
Hooking up the low pressure side
Blue line on
There will be two blue plastic caps on two different lines going into the firewall somewhere in the engine bay, typically on the passenger side. The thinner line will be the low pressure side. You can remove the plastic dust cap and snap your blue line onto the schrader valve underneath.
High pressure side
Red hose on
Then, do the same thing on the high pressure side. On an r134a system, the valves are different sizes so that you cant accidentally mix them up. This may not be the case with other types of refrigerant.
When You May Need A Car Air Conditioning Recharge
Your cars air conditioning is a sealed system that doesnt require regular maintenance. Regular usage, as little as ten minutes weekly, is enough to maintain the system. This circulates the oil, lubricating moving parts and conditioning seals, O-rings and hoses. However, if seepage occurs, this can result in poor cooling.
Basic DIY car air conditioning recharge kits include an adapter hose to connect a can of refrigerant to the air conditioning systems low-side service port. Some include a pressure gauge with color bars or numbers, while others have temperature-sensitive vent clips. Some kits have leak detection dye, so you can use an ultraviolet light to figure out if theres any seepage.
Don’t Miss: When Can Kids Face Forward In Car Seat
How To Perform An Air Conditioning System Recharge
Now its time to get to work. Thick gloves and safety glasses are important to protect your hands, face and eyes, as a sudden spray of refrigerant could cause frostbite. Always follow the instructions for your specific kit, but these general steps will help get your air conditioning ice cold in just a few minutes:
How Long Does It Take For Your Mechanic To Recharge Your A/c
It will take somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour for your mechanic to recharge your air conditioning unit with fresh refrigerant. On average the job takes 45 minutes of labor to perform. This is a pretty routine job for an experienced mechanic, but for someone trying to do this job themselves at home it can take a bit longer, upwards of 2 hours to research and perform the task if all needed supplies are present.;
Don’t Miss: Car Making Grinding Noise When Accelerating
What Is The Easiest Way To Recharge A Car Ac
Recharge your AC in 7 easy steps:
Recharging Car Air Conditioning
Posted 6 years ago on Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 by James S.
When I first got my car, I knew the AC didnt work. A mechanic tried to evacuate and refill the system and discovered that pressure on both sides was equal. This meant either the expansion valve or compressor wasnt working, and both parts are fairly expensive for him to fix. Rather than spend the estimated thousand or two dollars having him do it, I ended up replacing the expansion valve and getting a used known-good compressor , and recharging the system myself. I saved a significant amount of money, and I now have the tools to fix it in the future.
Also Check: Where Can You Get Your Car Inspected
A/c Recharge Kit Problems: Incompatible With Hybrids
Driving around in a hybrid or electric car, like a Volkswagen eGolf? You definitely should not use at home A/C recharging kits! Hybrid and electric cars use a different A/C compressor design which requires a different kind of compressor oil than what’s found inside the DIY A/C recharge canisters. As with many things involving EVs and hybrids, it’s often best to have the A/C system on these vehicles serviced by dealership professionals.
Diy A/c Charging Does Not Patch Most Leaks
If your car’s A/C system was working well one day, then stopped blowing cold the next day, your A/C system may have sprung a leak. That means you’ll need to have a technician locate the leak and patch it before the system can be refilled with refrigerant. While there are some compounds in these products that are designed to fill small leaks, bigger leaks will still remain. At Carr Subaru, our technicians have special tools that can help us find leaks on your car, so we can patch them properly. If you use a DIY A/C recharge can on your car with a leak, all that gas will come right back out of the system — and you’ll have wasted your money. It’s one more reason we think it’s smart to trust the pros whenever it’s time to recharge your car’s A/C system.
Read Also: What To Do For Car Sickness
Carter Volkswagen Auto Care Faqs: Can I Recharge My Car’s Ac System Myself
A new line of products have exploded in popularity which claim to allow you to recharge your vehicle’s underperforming A/C system on your own. It sounds fast, inexpensive and convenient! But how well do they really work?
These products can safely add more refrigerant to your vehicle’s A/C system, it’s true. And that might be enough to get your A/C blowing cold once again for a short time. But that’s not going to be enough to get your A/C system working properly in many cases. In fact, we’ve identified a few problems with these at home A/C recharge kits, and why you shouldn’t use them. We’ll illustrate below why we think a full-blown, professional A/C recharge is usually the better solution.
How To Prepare To Add Freon To My Car
The first thing that you need to do is gather all of your equipment into one place. Once you have done this, you should attach the refrigerant dispenser to the can containing freon.
To do this, simply insert the can into the base of the dispenser and screw to secure in place. It is vital that this is properly attached as the freon is pressurized. Doing this step incorrectly could result in injury to you or others around you.
Your next step is to check that the refrigerant is the root cause of the problem. To do this, you should run the engine of your car and activate the air conditioning. Set the power to the maximum setting and look for the compressor. This is connected to the engine of your car on the low side fill port with a hose.
Follow the hose until you find a pulley somewhere on the compressor. Look in the center to see if there is a spinning section. If there is, the compressor is working correctly.
If it is not spinning, you need to add about half of the contents of the freon can to the air conditioning unit. If this does not fix the issue, you must take the car to a mechanic as the issue is more complex than you can solve alone.
Read Also: How Soon Can You Refinance Your Car
When To Recharge Your Cars Ac
In case you start noticing that your cars AC isnt cooling the vehicle as efficiently as it used to, you might want to check if the level of refrigerant is below the normal level.;
However, you should keep in mind that this happens rarely, and you may not have to recharge the AC system even after years of frequent use.;
Clogged filters, leakage, or damaged components are the most common reasons why the AC system starts to malfunction. In some cases, the old refrigerant needs to be vacuumed out of the system before you start refilling it with a new refrigerant.;;
Click here if you want to find out how to tell if the freon level is too low in a cars AC.;
You Can Charge Your Air Conditioning At Home
The vehicle air conditioning system can seem complex, luckily, recharging the air conditioning system is the easiest repair or maintenance item that you can make on the air conditioning unit. Recharging a cars air conditioning is when the refrigerant, the chemical that is compressed and cooled to produce cold air, is replaced.;
Even in healthy functioning air conditioners, you will see a gradual loss of the refrigerant over many years, and in time that air conditioning unit just isnt as effective. The unit will regain its cooling properties with a simple recharge. If your car is rapidly losing refrigerant, you have a leak which needs to be repaired before the refrigerant is replaced. If you have an older vehicle 1995 or older you may not be able to recharge your A/C because the refrigerant used at that time is harmful to the environment and the world no longer produces it.;
On average a trip to the mechanic or an A/C recharge will run you about $200 but these costs could be upwards of $300 for the repair based on what mechanic you choose to go to. In some cases you can find a coupon online for mechanics who specialize in working on vehicle air conditioning for as low as $99. Though it is a simple process, it can eat up a lot of time to perform this maintenance item and check the rest of the system over, so most of that expense is a labor cost.;
Also Check: What Credit Bureau Does Car Dealers Use
Everything Youll Need To Recharge Your Ac
Take a quick trip to the local auto parts store, and youll be ready to go.
- Can of refrigerant
- Hose connector, if not included with refrigerant.
Or if you don’t want to bother with a bunch of parts, and like to have everything that you need nicely organized in one place, then you can use an AC Recharge Kit .
Organizing your tools and gear so that everything that you need to recharge your AC is easily reachable, will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch.
Youll also need a flat workspace in order to recharge your AC properly, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking. Check your local laws to make sure youre not violating any codes when using the street because we arent getting your ride out of the clink.
Diy A/c Charging Does Not Measure By Weight
Once your A/C system is completely empty, we just need to know how much refrigerant goes into your particular car’s system. This specification comes direct from the manufacturer, and it tells us how much refrigerant to add by weight. By contrast, DIY A/C recharge cans have a simple pressure gauge. That means, even if you get the pressure to the correct level, the actual weight of the refrigerant in the system is a mystery. If there’s too much, the system can be damaged; and if there’s not enough, your A/C might not work well. Instead, trust the pros who can properly measure the refrigerant going into your car.
Don’t Miss: How To Remove Scratches From A Car
Before You Get Started
First, you’ll need to find out what kind of refrigerant your car uses. The best way to determine this is to check your car’s owner’s or;repair manual.
If your car was manufactured after 1994, it uses R134 refrigerant. Older cars use R12 refrigerant, which is no longer manufactured. To get the AC working on a pre-1994 vehicle, you’ll first have to take it to a repair shop and have it converted to use R134.
You should also check your AC system;for leaks;before getting started. A leaky air conditioning system can’t cool as efficiently; running it without sufficient coolant could cause permanent damage.
Car Ac System Blowing Warm Air
If you wake up to an AC blowing warm air instead of cold air, it’s due to severe leakage. For this, you’ll need to have a professional find the leak and fix it before topping up the refrigerant. While some DIY recharge cans contain seal leak compounds to fix small leaks, larger leaks remain unattended.
At Hillmuth Auto Care, we have specialized repair equipment that helps our professionals locate leaks in the AC system to repair them and prevent the problems from reoccurring.
Are Air Conditioner Recharge Kits Bad?
Fundamentally, recharge kits are not bad. However, they often do more harm than good. They are designed with a stop leak which plugs small leaks as the refrigerant and compressor oil run through the system.
Unfortunately, this method can easily clog the air conditioner components like the pump, hose, and compressor. Recharge cans make it easy for you to overfill the air conditioning system and cause bigger problems.
Are Air Conditioning Recharge Kits Worth It?
No, they are not because they don’t fix broken AC systems. Instead, they simply recharge refrigerant and leave the cause of the problem unattended. So while a recharge may get cool air blowing again, it masks the real issue as it worsens. Eventually, you may end up fixing a leak, replacing damaged components, and recharging the AC system.
What Is Better DIY or Professional AC Service?
You May Like: How A Car Engine Works