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AutoRepairKey.com > Auto Repair, Auto Maintenance, and General Automotive Blog > Auto Repair and Maintenance – Air Conditioning Recharge

Auto Repair and Maintenance – Air Conditioning Recharge

Auto Repair and Maintenance Advice: Air Conditioning Recharge

This past May, on an uncharacteristically warm spring day, I pressed on the a/c button in my car but nothing much happened. Air was blowing, but it wasn’t cool enough. Not very refreshing, but not wanting to spend the time or money to take my car in to the mechanic, I decided to go air conditioning free this summer. Things were going splendidly until a heat wave hit, followed by another. When the weather report informed this trend was here to stay, I figured I could try taking my car in for an a/c recharge. I kept seeing signs outside of auto shops offering the service. First, though, I decided to find out exactly what automotive air conditioning recharge means. Here’s what I found:

Although there are several causes for a car or truck a/c system not efficiently blowing cool air, a likely one is low refrigerant levels, meaning there is not enough refrigerant to absorb the heat from the car. Find out more about how car and truck air conditoning systems work.  Recharging the air conditioner is needed when the refrigerant is low, and means adding the right amount of refrigerant to bring the pressure up. Just adding refrigerant into the system is ineffective. Too much refrigerant is just as bad as not enough, as the refrigerant will not be able to vaporize. Therefore, refrigerant should not be added without gauging the pressure. All systems will eventually lose refrigerant, but if you need a recharge every year, it’s likely there is a leak. You will continue to lose too much refrigerant until the leak is fixed. If you take your car in for a recharge your mechanic can also perform a system evacuation in which he/she uses suction to remove all refrigerant from the system. This action creates a vacuum, and depending on how long the vacuum holds tells how big or small the leak is (but not where it is). If the leak is minor, or you decide not to fix it, refrigerant is filtered, placed back in the system, and topped off to the correct amount. Depending on where you live, this service will likely cost $100-$200.

If your car uses the refrigerant R-134a, you can recharge your air conditioner or have your mechanic do it. However, if your car still uses R-12, it is illegal to recharge the a/c or even purchase the substance required without a license. Because the price of R-12 has sky rocketed, it is cheaper to have your mechanic convert your system to using R134a or buy a kit to do it yourself, not to mention much better for the environment. For many people, though, taking your car to the mechanic for an a/c recharge is the best option.  AutoRepairKey.com maintains a network of reliable car and truck air conditioning mechanics, who are available should you need them. Mechanics have better equipment, and the a/c system is delicate and requires extreme care to ensure that the system is not clogged with debris, especially within the compressor. If you do decide to recharge your own car or truck air conditioner, be sure to wear protective goggles and gloves, as half the system is under high pressure and the refrigerant can cause frostbite. Either way, recharging your a/c may be sufficient to get you through a hot summer. Good luck and cool driving!

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