If you want your car AC to perform at an optimum level under scorching heat, you need to make sure it is recharged when it is required. Even though it is something that car owners frequently need to do, many people are often confused about how to recharge car AC, or simply don’t know when to do it.
If your AC is losing power or the air does not feel cold enough anymore, it doesn’t always mean you need to go to the mechanic. You can actually resolve the issue on your own by simply following the easy yet effective tips and tricks from this guide. Before you can do that, though, you must first be aware of the warning signs that your AC needs a recharge.
How to Know If Your Car AC Needs a Recharge
Before opting for an AC recharge, you need to learn first if it is actually required. Recharging your AC too frequently is also kind of counter-productive. In order to know when your car AC needs a recharge, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the air feel not cold enough?
- Do you feel that the AC is taking a long time for required cooling?
- Do you feel the AC is losing power?
The AC needs a recharge if your answers to these questions are yes. Even though there could be other problems that can cause these, an AC recharge is often the quick fix. If the problem remains after the AC recharge, though, you must look for other issues like leakages in the system and missing refrigerant.
In addition, you should also keep in mind that if you own an older model, such as the ones made before 1995 or those that use R12 refrigerant, recharging the AC will not work for you. In cases like these, you would actually need to install a new refrigeration system.
How to Recharge Car AC
Enough with the basics, let’s move on to answer the actual question. First, you need to understand what recharging your AC means. It is a process of adding more AC refrigerant to the AC system. While it sounds fairly simple, an AC refrigerant is not easy to handle, which is why you need to take precaution when recharging your AC.
As you will be handling refrigerant, make sure you have your eyes covered with safety glasses. It is also recommended to wear long sleeves to expose as less skin as possible. Coolant can freeze quickly and can cause severe pain if it touches your skin. To recharge the car AC, follow the steps listed below.
- Turn Your Car AC On
To begin the process, you need to start the car and turn the AC to its maximum setting.
- Locate the AC Compressor
Next, you need to work under the hood and look for the AC compressor. What is an AC compressor? It is a device that converts the liquid refrigerant into the gas. It is driven by the accessory belt, so locating it is very easy.
If your AC is turned on, you can easily see a spinning clutch and the belt, which shows you where the compressor is located. Once you have identified where the compressor is, you now need to see if it is engaging. Now, if the clutch is still engaging, the car AC most likely is still producing cold air but probably not as much as you want. This indicates that there is less refrigerant in the system.
The second scenario is when you can see that the clutch is not engaging the compressor. In such cases, it indicates that the refrigerant is almost non-existent in the system. However, it can be caused by other problems as well, such as a malfunctioning compressor or an electrical problem.
- Test the Pressure
In both of the above cases, the next step is to test the pressure. For this, you need to find the low side pressure port first. It is a grey or black cap that is mostly located on the passenger’s side of the engine.
So, how do you test the pressure? For this, you need to have a recharge kit that comes with a recharge hose. Connect the one end of the recharge hose to the side pressure port and push it firmly to place it properly.
- Start Your Car Again
Notice the hose showing nothing when you connect it to the pressure port? This is because you need to start the car again and turn the AC on to the maximum high. Now, you will notice that the gauge will start moving. What readings should you look for on the gauge?
Well, if the reading shows 40 Psi, the AC system has the appropriate refrigerant in the system. If it shows anything less than that, then you know that your AC system definitely needs more refrigerant.
- Recharge the AC
Now, open the refrigerant can and thread it to the recharge hose. Hold the can upright and only squeeze the trigger for five seconds at a time. You don’t want to add too much refrigerant to the system and overcharge it, so make sure you are not squeezing the trigger hard and for too long.
This will add a small amount to the system and allow you to check the pressure gauge after every squeeze for the increase. Keep squeezing the trigger and releasing the refrigerant into the system until the pressure gauge reaches 40 Psi.
You can also return to the car and see if the air blowing is cold enough now or you can use a thermometer and put it inside the AC vents. Anything around 28 degrees is good enough.
But what if the pressure gauge shows 40 Psi or reading over 40 Psi, but your AC is still not producing cool enough air? This mostly means there is a problem with your AC compressor. In this case, you need a professional mechanic to look into the issue.
The Final Words
Learning how to recharge car AC was pretty easy, wasn’t it? Recharging a car AC is simply refilling the AC system with enough refrigerant. Yet, to do so, you would need to have a recharge kit. In addition, you also need to check the pressure before you can pour in the appropriate amount of refrigerant.
Lastly, keep in mind that if the refrigerant gets low within days or even weeks or months, it is almost certain that the AC system has a leak somewhere. When this happens, you should call a professional for help.