How To Recharge The AC In Your Car

on June 11, 2021
Air conditioner vent on the dash of a sports car.

The Summer is one of our favorite seasons here at Shine Armor. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities or doing some shopping, it’s the perfect time of year for driving around in your car.

You’ve got the air conditioning on to beat the heat, perhaps the windows rolled down to feel the wind, and the music is grooving. 

But you notice that you’re still feeling pretty warm, and your air conditioning isn’t nearly as cold as it used to be. This could be an issue depending on where you live. 

If it gets particularly hot in your city, air conditioning isn’t optional- It’s an essential element of your vehicle. You don’t want to be showing up sweaty and exhausted wherever it is you’re going. 

So how do you fix this? There are a few different options when it comes to recharging your AC. If you’re interested in doing it yourself or taking it into the shop, Shine Armor is here to walk through what you can do. 

 

Why Isn’t Your Air Conditioning Working?

To start, let’s address what the problem probably is. If your air conditioning isn’t blowing cold air, then it’s most likely low on our out of refrigerant. This isn’t a big deal; it’s a fluid that needs replacement just like any other in your car. 

However, you want to make sure that you know your car is just running low on refrigerant and not leaking it, as that can be damaging to the environment, and you don’t want to be losing fluid faster than you need to be. 

How To Check For A Leak

As we mentioned, the most probable culprit responsible for your car being low on refrigerant is going to be a leak. Here’s how to check for one, fix it, and recharge your AC. 

There are a few ways to test your air conditioning system for a leak by yourself, though an auto-shop would also be able to tell you if you had a problem pretty quickly. 

The easiest way to check is the bubbles test: Put together soap and water, and put it into a small spray bottle. You can also use a sponge, but the spray bottle saves you some gunk on your hands. 

Locate the air system under the hood and use the spray bottle to disperse the soapy water all over the hoses. Make sure to cover as much as you can because you don’t want to miss the leak if you have one. 

You’ll be able to identify it fairly easily as small bubbles will appear where the leak is. Depending on the hose itself, you may be able to replace it. Another option would be to purchase a leak-fix kit from just about any auto or department store. 

Pay attention to the size of the leak. If it’s small, then it’s more than likely something you can take care of yourself, but at a certain point, it would be best left to the professionals, or you may end up doing more damage. 

How To Fix A Leak

Most auto-supply stores will sell a leak-fix kit, but take note of what it says and how much it is. You want to make sure you’re getting the best option you can when fixing a leak. 

Another important quality to look for is a kit with a high-grade sealant and a conditioner. Some cheap sealants can seep into the leak and cause backups which will lead to more problems. 

Pick up a reputable leak kit and follow the instructions; this can save you an expensive trip to the mechanic. 

 

How To Check Your Refrigerant Level And Pressure

After checking to see if a leak is the main source of your low refrigerant, it’s time to refill the refrigerant itself.

 

Safety First

There are a few steps that you can take if you don’t want to take your car in. Make sure to take all precautions so that you’re safe. When dealing with air conditioning systems and refrigerants, you’ll want to use as much safety protection as you can. The liquid could give you frostbite if mishandled. 

Make sure that your car is off during the procedure until you’re ready to check that you did it correctly. Having it on while trying to undo the AC valves may send refrigerant flying around. 

 

Identify The Air Conditioning System

Next, take a look under your hood and find your air conditioner. You may have to refer to your owner’s manual or research online for exactly what you’re looking for; every car is different. 

You will notice it has two hoses coming out of it; one is the low-pressure line port and the other the high-pressure line port. We want the low-pressure for this. 

The ports may signify which is which with an “H” or an “L,” but you may have to refer to your manual to clarify. 

 

Follow The Instructions On Your Refrigerant Replacement Kit

Every refrigerant-replacement kit may be different, so to ensure that you’re doing everything correctly, read the instructions. 

You’ll start off by checking the pressure of the low-pressure port with a pressure gauge. The gauge will have a range of colors depicting what’s an appropriate amount. If it’s in the green, then the amount of refrigerant should be at an acceptable level. Low green may mean you could use more. 

Make sure not to overfill your air conditioning system, you want to find the sweet spot, and the pressure gauge is used to find the proper amount of refrigerant for your car. 

Remove any caps or barriers as instructed and assemble the refrigerant replacement system, typically a can of the fluid and a trigger/valve top. 

Placing the trigger top to the pressurized can will pierce the top of the can and allow pressure to flow through the valve. Make sure that the valve or trigger system is tightened before you attach it. 

Shake the refrigerant container well once you’ve gotten it together to blend all the additives, this will help smooth out the output and reduce the chance of blockage. 

Attach the nozzle of your kit to the low-pressure line port securely and release the refrigerant into the AC system. Every ten seconds, stop the flow of the refrigerant and check the pressure. You may need to repeat this step several times, but doing so will help you get the right amount of pressure. 

Once your pressure gauge is sitting in a healthy position in the green, your refrigerant is at a good level, and you’re ready to move forward. 

Check That Everything Works

Once you’ve recharged the refrigerant in the AC system, lock all the hoses and caps back into place and start your car up.

Crank the AC to high-fan, as cold as it gets on the dial. What we’re checking is that all of the parts are put back together properly. 

Under the hood, there is a compressor clutch, a small circle near your AC system. Make sure that it’s spinning. If it isn’t, then just back up a few steps and add more refrigerant. 

As you test the cold air, you may notice that your interior could use a touch-up, so try our Car Upholstery and Interior Cleaner. It is a nongreasy, high-quality product that will have your now air-conditioned car looking brand new. 

In Conclusion

Having a functional air conditioning system is critical for a majority of drivers. The feeling of getting in your car on a hot summer day and realizing that the car is just blowing the same hot air from outside at you is pretty upsetting. 

But it isn’t an impossible fix to do yourself. So keep in mind to purchase good quality kits and products and do your research. 

Refrigerant is pretty dangerous and requires a lot of attention, so it’s incredibly important to read instructions ahead of time and know what you’re doing before you start. 

After you’ve safely recharged your refrigerant and your AC is blowing cool air again is the perfect time to give your car a fresh wash with our Ultra Concentrated Car Wash Soap and go for a ride in your cool, clean vehicle. Because that’s what Summers are for, right? 

References:

How To Make A Leak Detector | Hunker.com

 Super Seal Leak Fix Kit| Amazon

 AC Pro Car Air Conditioner Refrigerant Replacement Kit | Amazon

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