Aaron Widmar
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Air Conditioning Recharge: Why Your Car Needs It

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An easy way to reboot your climate control system if it's not blowing cold air

Air conditioning climate control system not working recharge refrigerant refill
Photo: The News Wheel

Your car’s air conditioning is essential for keeping the cabin cool on summer days. If the system isn’t working, the temperature can become dangerously hot. Just because the air conditioning isn’t, though, doesn’t mean the system needs repaired or replaced. All you might need is an air conditioning recharge, which is an easier fix than you might realize.

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Why does my car’s A/C system need recharged?

Like the air conditioning system in your house, your car’s 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, you’ll need to inject some refrigerant back into your car by recharging the A/C.

Can I recharge the air conditioning myself?

Yes! It’s actually fairly easy to recharge your car’s air conditioning system if you feel comfortable performing basic maintenance tasks on your car and following instructions. Make sure you thoroughly research the process, wear protective gear, and watch videos of experts giving step-by-step directions.

You’ll need a can of automotive refrigerant refill from a car parts store. Get a can of professional-grade R-134a and a kit with hose and gauge (oftentimes, these are all sold together). R-12 Freon used to be the industry standard until the EPA outlawed it as a hazard.

You’ll follow the directions with the kit, which will involve locating the low side service port by the compressor, attaching the hose, and adding refrigerant. Use the gauge to identify the target air pressure based on the current temperature.

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Can I overcharge the A/C system?

Yes, it is possible to put too much refrigerant into the air conditioner if you’re not monitoring the gauge or the target pressure. Doing so will cause the condensed refrigerant to collect in the coolant line and not expand properly. It could even damage the compressor and require costly repairs.

If you’re worried about accidentally damaging the A/C system when refilling it, bring it to a service garage for recharging. It only takes a couple of minutes and is worth the price to have cool air. Plus, the mechanic can inspect if the system has a leak or underlying issues causing the malfunction.