If you feel that the air conditioning in your car is not working as well as it used to, it means that the air conditioning system has run out of refrigerant and it is now time to recharge it.
Charging an AC unit does not cost much and is only required every 100,000 miles, so it is likely that you are not even aware of the problem.
You can only recognize a problem if you blasting the air conditioning in summer and don’t feel the cold.
In general, depending on the make and model of your car, an AC recharge will cost $200 or more, but less if you do it yourself. It is a very straightforward process and usually takes 20-30 minutes. Usually, you don’t even need to leave your car in the workshop.
However, if another AC-related problem occurs, the repair may take a little longer. The mechanic will charge you $150 or more, but it all depends on your vehicle. The parts for the repair would cost you $100 more or less.
Remember that it is highly recommended to dry the AC system with a vacuum before refilling it. This can only be done with an AC service station. You can also do it yourself, but the result may suffer if you do not do it.
What is an AC Recharge?
This is one of the most important questions to answer if you have no knowledge of AC units. The air conditioning system in your car needs an exact amount of gas/liquid to work. If the correct amount of liquid is not maintained, your air conditioner will not work properly and other components of the air conditioner may be damaged.
With an AC refill, you let your mechanic check the current refrigerant level in the AC system and allow him to top up the coolant if necessary. As long as the gas level is at the optimum level, your air conditioner will work perfectly.
Advantages of AC Recharge
An AC recharge keeps your air conditioning system in top condition. This way your AC compressor will last longer and keep your car cool and comfortable.
What’s more, the other components of your air conditioning system will also remain in top condition and you won’t have to get your air conditioning unit serviced every summer.
The Process of an AC Recharge
The first task of the AC technician is to check the AC lines for possible leaks. In other words, the technician must find the core problem in order to carry out an effective repair. If your air conditioner is not working properly, there may be a problem with a number of AC components, so the technician will check the entire system to be sure.
If the AC unit is recharged without solving the cause of the problem, the problem will simply occur again.
However, if the technician, after checking the entire system, decides that your car only needs a recharge, the first thing he will do is to remove all fluid from the system. A refrigerant recovery unit is used to remove all the refrigerant at once without leaking into the air.
Once all coolant is removed from the AC system, the technician removes all air from the system and then refills the coolant. Finally, he seals the AC system and checks its effectiveness.
Always check the sticker on your car to learn which AC fluid you should use to refill your unit. The most common is R134a if you have a newer car and R12 for the older cars. Nowadays R1234yf is also present in newer cars, so you should be aware of this.
If you refill your AC unit at home, be aware that the results will not be as good as those from a proper AC filling station and that the AC fluid is really bad for the environment. However, if you want to refill it, you can use you can use this one from Amazon (If you have R134A).
When Should You Get an AC Recharge?
If your AC does not work properly, you must refill it. However, immediate recharging is not necessary. You can use the AC unit for some time before it is absolutely necessary to charge it. However, if you delay charging too long, you may damage other AC components such as the compressor, which is expensive to replace.
The AC system should lose a maximum of about 10-20 grams per year. Depending on the car model, there are about 500 grams of AC fluid in your system from the start. If you have detected a larger amount of leakage, check for possible leaks!
If the cold air from your air conditioner gradually decreases, it means that the refrigerant levels have naturally become low. However, if there is a sudden drop in the cooling capacity of your AC system, it is more likely that you have developed one or two leaks in your AC system.
These leaks must be sealed before the new refrigerant is added. Be aware of strange noises coming from the air conditioner. If there is an audible noise coming from the hood, it means that your compressor has almost no refrigerant left.
Save Money with AC Recharges
No matter how much you like it or how much you can do it, never try to charge your AC yourself. The refrigerant that is charged into an AC is flammable and can easily cause an accident if used improperly.
You should always let your mechanic do the work for you because even the smallest miscalculation can have serious consequences. For this reason, you should never consider recharging your AC unit as a DIY job. Do not save money in this respect and always consult a certified technician.
You can only save a few dollars by comparing the prices of different technicians in your area. You may not be able to save much, but a good deal could prove fruitful in the long run. The equipment used for recharging is usually readily available from an AC technician’s workshop. You can’t save money by bringing your own, so don’t try to be too clever.
Recharge Costs Comparison
The amount of money you spend on a top-up may vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as we have already determined. But how much can the cost vary from vehicle to vehicle?
If you drive a large vehicle like a Ford F-150 truck, you can expect to pay between $120 and $170 for the work and $80 to $130 for the parts. This brings your total cost to over $200, but you can expect to pay a maximum of $270. For a sedan, like a Nissan Altima, you can expect a maximum of $250.
It should be clear by now that AC charging does not cost much more if you have a large vehicle. Normally the compressor used in all vehicles is the same size. However, if you are confronted with a leak, you may have to pay more money. This is where the size of the vehicle comes into play, as the piping depends on the size of the vehicle.