Recharging Your Car’s Air Conditioner

Chuck's Auto Repair

Seattle isn’t exactly known for long heat spells, but this summer seems different. Nevertheless, temperatures can easily skyrocket inside a vehicle. Problems with the AC are the last thing you want; otherwise, you’re left with no option other than rolling down the windows. If the AC just isn’t producing as much cool air as it used to, then it’s likely low in refrigerant. While recharging your car’s air conditioner is something you can do yourself, it’s best to take it to an auto service for repairs.

If you feel confident about your DIY skills, though, then follow the steps below. Keep in mind that this guide is for vehicles made in or after 1994.

Replacing the Refrigerant

  1. Go to your local auto supply shop and purchase refrigerant with the label R-134a. You will also need a refrigerant dispenser with a trigger and pressure gauge. This may be purchased separately or in a refrigerant/dispenser combo package.
  2. Pop open the hood and locate the low pressure port. The location differs depending on the car model, but the port should have a cap with the letter “L.”
  3. Remove the cap and attach the dispenser hose. Start the engine and turn the AC on full blast. The needle on the gauge will indicate whether refrigerant needs to be added.
  4. If refrigerant is needed, screw the can of refrigerant onto the dispenser hose and reattach to the low pressure port.
  5. Restart the engine and switch the AC on all the way again. Turn the gauge all the way counterclockwise to begin releasing refrigerant into the system.

Leave It to a Mechanic

Edited by Justin Vorhees

Only attempt the steps above if you feel comfortable working under the hood of a car. If you don’t feel completely confident, take your car to Chuck’s Auto

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