Is it Safe to Use a Car AC Recharge Kit on an Older Vehicle?

Use a Car AC Recharge Kit on an Older Vehicle

One of the hottest items to do in our garages this time of year is to buy a car AC recharge kit and do it yourself. While this is a great idea for people who want to save some money, it can also be dangerous for your vehicle and may end up costing you more in the long run.

Many at-home recharging kits are filled with R134a refrigerant (or Freon). This type of refrigerant was outlawed because it depletes the ozone layer, and is now being replaced by a newer, greener option called R1234yf in hybrid cars. Unfortunately, most recharge kits won’t work with this newer, cleaner refrigerant. And if you use an R134a recharge can in a modern vehicle that uses the new refrigerant, it will clog up and damage the delicate parts of the system.

When we service your air conditioning system, we know how much refrigerant it needs by using a special tool that measures the pressure in the hoses and at the compressor clutch. We then refill the system to that level. When you do it yourself, you’re guessing at how much refrigerant you need to add – and many times, that refrigerant will leak out right back into the atmosphere. This is because most a/c recharge kit for car don’t have a gauge that reads the high or low side of the system, and only have a pressure guage on the can itself.

Is it Safe to Use a Car AC Recharge Kit on an Older Vehicle?

The at-home kits usually have a coupler and a hose that attach to the air conditioning system’s ports. Some will even have a label on the hose that says “L” for low or “H” for high. You can connect the hose to either port, but it’s important to remember that adding the new refrigerant will only fill up the system if there is a leak in it. Then the new refrigerant will leak out through that same leak.

Most recharge kits have a sealant in them that claims to plug any leaks and prevent future ones. But this is only a temporary solution. Over time, the sealant will deteriorate and actually make the leaks worse. In addition, it can also clog the hoses, compressor and pumps in your air conditioning system, causing expensive repairs down the road.

To avoid costly car AC problems, be sure to have your air conditioner inspected and serviced by a professional technician every spring. That way, we can make sure the ozone-depleting refrigerant is replaced and the delicate components are sealed properly – and you’ll get the ice-cold air that your car deserves. We can also inspect the system to see if there are any other issues that need to be addressed, like the expansion valve, evaporator coil or condenser. And we’ll be sure to use the correct R134yf refrigerant for your specific vehicle. Call or email us today for a quote! We look forward to serving you.

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