How to Recharge Your Car's Air Conditioning

How to Recharge Your Car’s Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is a temperature control system that aims to maintain the temperature desired by the user in the car. An air conditioning system consists of a closed circuit filled with refrigerant. A sealed circuit and an air conditioning compressor allow the change of state of the fluid from liquid to gas, promoting cold in the cabin. This article will tell you how to recharge your car’s air conditioning.

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Definition of automotive air conditioning refill

This is a maintenance operation consisting of replacing the refrigerant fluid, which is necessary at regular intervals for the proper functioning of the air conditioning.

Indeed, the fluid loses its properties over time due to condensation, fouling, and micro-leaks.

Note: Partial or complete loss of cabin cooling indicates the need to replace the refrigerant in your automotive air conditioning system. A refill frequency of at least every 2 years is correct.

Steps for a car air conditioning recharge

With an appropriate machine, called an air conditioning station, qualified and licensed personnel drain the used fluid to replace it in the same proportions with new fluid.

Good to know: The operation is now fully automated on modern stations.

It includes the following operations:

Recovery and recycling

The station, connected to the air conditioning circuit, recovers the used fluid and part of the oil needed to lubricate the compressor by weighing the fluid recovered. It separates the oil, humidity, and solid particles from the fluid. The fluid is purified and stored in a bottle integrated into the station.

Vacuum pulling

This operation involves drawing an air vacuum on the circuit using the station’s vacuum pump.

Please note: The vacuum created is – 1 bar for a minimum of 30 minutes; it is necessary to check the tightness of the circuit.


The station reinjects the equivalent quantity of new oil and the quantity of fluid for the recommended load.

Efficiency check:

The operator takes the low and high pressure of the circuit and compares the cabin temperature with the pressure values indicated with the help of a chart.

How to DIY?

How to Recharge Your Car's Air Conditioning

You can entrust this operation to a professional or make substantial savings by doing it yourself.

Here is how to recharge your car’s air conditioning.

You need a specific recharge kit to recharge your car’s air conditioning. This kit includes:

  • a can of refrigerant (also called a canister);
  • a flexible connection hose (also called a hose or duct);
  • a low-pressure R-134a quick coupling;
  • Can connector with piercing needle;
  • a pressure gauge.

While newer air conditioning systems generally meet universal standards, some exceptions may exist. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to check the compatibility of the type of refrigerant chosen with your car’s air conditioning system.

Equipment needed to recharge your air conditioning

In addition to this air conditioning recharge kit, it is essential to bring gloves and protective glasses to operate. All screwing procedures must be done by hand, without tools.

1. Prepare the Air Conditioning Refill Kit

In your refill kit, the pressure gauge usually is already connected to the connection hose. If it is not, connect it to the hose nipples provided (these nipples cannot be mistaken for the other two connectors).

On your bobbin fitting, ensure the valve is turned fully counterclockwise (open position). Otherwise, you may puncture the bobbin too soon.

Screw the fitting onto the bobbin.

Screw the couplings to the hose:

  • Connect the side without the valve to the bobbin fitting.
  • Then connect the side with the valve to the R-134a quick disconnect.

2. Connect the charging kit to the air conditioning system

Start your car and turn on the air conditioning.

Open the vehicle hood and locate the air conditioning low-pressure valve cap (refer to the vehicle manual).

Remove the cap.

Connect the R-134a quick connector to the low-pressure valve:

Give a backward motion to the ring around the connector.

Connect the connector.

Release the ring, and it should return to its original position.

Important: Never connect your refill kit to the high-pressure valve.

3. Drill the bobbin

On the bobbin connector, turn the valve clockwise to the end. This will allow the needle inside the fitting to pierce the can to allow gas to enter the line later.

4. Recharge your air conditioner

Now that you have everything ready to go, you can start charging your air conditioner:

Hold the can upside down.

Open the valve, whose needle has just pierced the can, to allow the refrigerant to flow through the hose and into the air conditioning system.

When the pressure on the gauge is between 25 and 45 PSI, the air conditioning is definitely recharged. Close the valve on the canister connection.

5. Check that the air conditioning recharge is correct

Allow your air conditioning to run for a few minutes after recharging before checking that the cabin is cool. If the air conditioning is not as efficient as you would like, add more refrigerant by opening the valve on the canister connection. Use these additions sparingly, checking the effects in the cabin regularly.

6. Disconnect the air conditioning refill kit

Once your air conditioning is recharged, disconnect the recharge kit:

Close the valve on the canister fitting.

Disconnect the R-134a from the low-pressure valve.

Replace the cap on the low-pressure valve.

Important: If the can still contain refrigerant, do not remove the fitting from the can. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can store your can in a ventilated area away from heat sources.

Tip: For optimal performance of your air conditioner, remember to turn it on regularly, about twice a month, even in winter.

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