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How do I know my car AC needs recharged?

Your mechanic may bring up recharging your air conditioning with you if they notice your AC isn’t cooling your car properly. Your car may need that AC recharge if it is low on refrigerant, used by air conditioners to maintain cooling and pressure. A fresh batch of refrigerant, or Freon if your car needs it, will help your air conditioning system keep cool.

When you get your AC recharged your auto repairer will fill up your air conditioning system with a fresh batch of refrigerant to go along with any repairs your AC may have needed, and test your system to ensure your AC is cooling thoroughly. Typically your car shouldn’t need an AC recharge unless you’ve had other repairs to your AC system, but your mechanic will suggest a AC recharge to you if they feel your AC could use one.

Read Our Article: Car AC Not Blowing Cold Air: 12 Causes & Solutions


What is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is what keeps your AC cold like it should be. Its purpose is to keep air cold and keep air pressure up so the AC system can cool the air properly. If your car AC runs low on it it can stop cooling as well or require you to turn up the fan to get the same cooling as it may have had before.

Why is my car AC not cooling?

If your car AC isn’t cold like it used to, or doesn’t have enough pressure, it may be time for repairs. Leaks can cause the refrigerant in your AC system to run low. When you are low on refrigerant, your car air conditioner will not be as cold as it could be, and air pressure will drop. If your refrigerant gets low enough, your car AC may fail to turn on entirely. After any other repairs to your air conditioning system, your auto repairer will likely also want to recharge your AC as part of your car’s servicing.

woman adjusting the car ac, How to know when car AC needs recharged

What is an AC recharge?

In an AC recharge, your auto repairer will clear out your car AC system’s old refrigerant and replace it with new refrigerant. A full tank of new refrigerant will help your car’s AC to cool more thoroughly, and with less fan speed. Your car’s AC recharge will happen after any other repairs are made to your system. After your AC recharge, your auto repairer will test your car’s AC to ensure your AC is cooling to appropriate temperatures.

When is it time to recharge my AC?

Your auto repairer will want to recharge your AC when your refrigerant is low. They will also likely want to recharge your AC if your AC just isn’t generally cooling or keeping up air pressure. Low pressure or lack of cooling from your AC can be resolved by repairs, which will likely include an AC recharge at the end to fill up your tank with fresh new refrigerant to help your car AC cool thoroughly and effectively.

What if my car needs Freon?

If your car uses Freon, and isn’t cold like it should be, it may be running low on its Freon. If your car does or does not need Freon, your auto repairer will keep track of that and make sure your car gets the particular refrigerant that it needs for its air conditioning system. A fresh fill of the refrigerant your car needs will help to ensure its AC system does a thorough job at cooling.

Can my car be damaged by driving without refrigerant?

The simple answer is: yes, your car’s AC system may sustain damage from low refrigerant. While refrigerant is primarily used to keep your car cool, it also lubricates seals in your car’s AC system. With low refrigerant, these seals in your car’s AC system can wear down over time, creating necessity for other repairs in order to restore your car’s air conditioning system. To save yourself from repairs, it’s probably best to not wait if your AC needs recharged and checked for need of repairs if your notice your AC isn’t cold.

checking if car air conditioning is cold, a way to tell if AC needs recharged

How often does my AC need to be recharged?

There isn’t a regular schedule on how often you should get your AC recharged. This is because while your AC system may suffer minor leaks and drips over time, typically your AC shouldn’t have any major leaks unless it is in need of repair. Degraded seals and other damage to your AC may create leaks that necessitate an AC recharge after repairs are complete. The best indicator for if your AC needs recharged is the cooling of your AC system, if it is not cooling, can’t maintain pressure, or won’t activate, it may be time for an AC recharge.

Should I attempt to recharge my own AC?

You can buy at-home AC recharge kits, but they don’t come with the expertise of leaving it to a mechanic. Attempting to recharge your own AC without voiding the previous refrigerant can cause your AC system to overflow, which can cause it to stop working entirely. On top of that, just adding refrigerant may or may not restore cooling ability. If it does restore cooling, the effect is likely temporary, as whatever leak caused the low refrigerant has gone unfixed. When you let a mechanic repair your AC they fix those leaks and properly void the old refrigerant from your system as part of their recharge, restoring your AC as close to manufacturer specification as possible.

If your car AC isn’t cooling like it should, it may be time for an AC recharge. Recharging your AC will keep your AC system cold like the manufacturer intended. A refresh of refrigerant can help ensure that your car AC maintains pressure and cooling.

If your car needs AC repairs it will likely need an AC recharge as part of those repairs. Sometimes your AC might need to be recharged just because your refrigerant is low and you want to restore cooling and pressure in your car’s air conditioning system.

Your auto repairer will let your know if your AC system needs a recharge or repairs when they take a look at your car, but if your AC system isn’t cooling properly, or doesn’t maintain pressure, it may be time to get it recharged.

Macs Radiator services Air Conditioning Systems! Go to our AC Service and Repair page to learn more.






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