A Step-By-Step Guide to Recharging the AC System In Your Car

In a recent survey, research found that an estimated 77 percent of cars were in need of maintenance or repairs. Car maintenance becomes all the more important when you consider the cost of ignorance. Mechanical failures have been cited as a factor in 12 to 13 percent of all auto accidents.

One of the most important car components, especially during the heat of summer is the air conditioning. Not having working air conditioning can make your daily drive to work miserable and deter you from making that cross-country road trip for a vacation.

If you’re noticing that you’re not getting a cool blast of air when you turn on the car’s AC, that’s usually a sign that it might be time for recharging the AC system. If your air conditioning system has a leak, it may be a sign of larger problem, but recharging the AC system can be a go-to temporary solution.

The basis of recharging the AC system is adding more refrigerant to the AC system so it can start to blow cold air again. This procedure might be best left to professionals, but if you’re recharging the AC system yourself, here are some steps to take.

  • Turn the AC on
  • Check the compressor: the compressor is driven by a belt that converts the AC refrigerant from liquid to gas and has a clutch on the end. The clutch should spin with the belt when the AC is cranked up. If the clutch is engaging, it means you probably need refrigerant. If it’s not engaging, it means it’s low on refrigerant and you might have a larger problem on your hands; it might be that the compressor has failed or you may have an electrical issue.
  • Test Pressure: Turn off your vehicle and find the low side pressure port, which you can usually find on the passenger side of the engine bay. It’s a cap with the letter L on it.
  • Attach a recharge hose to port: For this step, simply put the hose fitting over the port until it clicks in.
  • Restart your vehicle: Turn the car on crank the AC up again. Once it’s going, monitor your gauge on your AC dispenser. Once the clutch is engaged, you’re looking for a reading as close to 40 psi as possible.
  • Thread refrigerant to recharge hose: This is where you add refrigerant to your AC system. Once you’ve threaded your can of refrigerant to the hose, hold the can upright and squeeze your dispenser to add it to the AC system. Again, you’re looking to get as close to 40 psi as you can.
  • Check the temperature: Take a thermometer, something like a meat thermometer and put it into one of the AC vents to check the temperature. If the temperature outside is in the high 70s or 80s, the AC system should blow between 35-48 degrees though that can sometimes vary.

Whether you’re recharging the AC system, getting an oil change done or having brake service done, it can pay off in the long run to do preventative maintenance on your car. When it comes to air conditioning, you want to make sure you’re staying cool in the heat and not sweating through the dog days of summer.

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