Keep Your Car Cool: Recharging Your Car Air Conditioning

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During the hot summer months, nobody wants to get all sweaty on their drive to work or church or even just the grocery store. Rolling down the windows works sometimes, but what about those extra hot and humid days, or when it’s raining, or when your passenger is trying to make a phone call but can’t hear because of the wind?

If your AC is not blowing as cold as it used to, the good news is that it may not cost as much as you think to get your air conditioning cold again. In fact, depending on the issue, you may be able to do it yourself with an AC recharge kit for only $25 and 15 minutes of work.

What does it mean to recharge a car’s air conditioner?

A common problem with air conditioners is that over time slow leaks can develop in the AC lines or connectors, and eventually there is not enough refrigerant for the AC compressor to work properly. Most modern AC systems are actually programmed to shut down the compressor to avoid damage if the refrigerant level gets too low. Recharging your air conditioner is essentially topping off the refrigerant so that your compressor can work properly once again.

How do I know if I can recharge my air conditioner?

If your car is 1996 or newer, you are good to go.

Some older cars (1995 and older) are not able to be recharged. This is because they used R12 refrigerant AKA Freon, which is no longer allowed by the EPA. Newer cars use R134a.

Some pre-1995 cars do use R134a if they have been converted, and these can be recharged. To tell if it has been converted you can look for a sticker on the unit under the hood, which would indicate that it is R134a.

How do I recharge my air conditioner?

Recharging the AC is pretty simple and only takes about 15 – 20 minutes to complete. Simply go to your local auto parts store and purchase a recharge kit. It is a good idea to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual before you go (or there should also be a sticker under the hood) to find out how much refrigerant your system uses. This will help determine which kit to buy. Once you choose a recharge kit, there will be complete instructions specific to that kit. Simply follow the instructions step by step and then test to see that it worked.

Is This a Permanent Fix?

In short, no, but it might be all you need. It is also a great way to troubleshoot the issue.

If you recharge your AC and it still does not blow cold air, well then you likely have a bad compressor and will have to replace it. This can be expensive, so let’s hope that is not the case.

If the recharge only lasts a few days or weeks, then you have a bad leak in a line or connector somewhere. This can be an easy fix or a nightmare depending on where the leak is. It also takes special tools to track down the leaks, so it’s not likely something you want to do at home. If the leak is easily accessible, it is not very expensive to replace hoses and connectors, so you may be able to get your AC repaired without breaking bank.

Ideally your recharge will last a couple years before your AC stops blowing cold again. In this case, there is likely just a very small leak in a connector or valve somewhere. In this case, an AC recharge every few years is definitely a better option than trying to track down a miniscule leak, which can be very difficult and timely.

Can I have this done at a service center?

Of course! Any auto service and repair shop should be able to recharge your AC for a reasonable price. As part of the Sherry Family of Dealerships, Car N Credit customers are treated like family at Sherry Chrysler service center right next door. If your AC is not working up to par, please stop by and have our professionals take a look!

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