When Should I Recharge My Car AC?

It is recommended to get your car recharge done once every 5 to 7 years before you experience any issues. You can still use a car’s AC even if it has a limited fuel limit. Just recharge it if the system stops cooling and if there are signs of refrigerant leakage.

While your car AC system recharge isn’t exactly an emergency problem, you should get it done before it leads to more damage.

With time, the lack of refrigerant can put more pressure on the connectors as well as other parts of the entire AC system.

That can lead to a breakdown, which will require extensive replacement and repairs.

Related: How Much Does it Cost for Car AC Recharge?

How to Get Your Car AC Recharged

There are seven steps involved in the recharging of a vehicle’s AC. Below are these steps:

Step 1: Get in the car and turn your AC on. You’ll need your vehicle’s AC on to have it recharged.

Step 2: Check if your AC compressor is engaging or not. Make sure it is engaging.

What’s an AC compressor? An AC compressor is a device driven by the accessory belt responsible for the conversion of the refrigerant’s state.

It converts refrigerant from its natural liquid state to a gaseous state, allowing it to do its job – cooling the air inside your vehicle.

At the end of the compressor, a clutch should be spinning with the accessory belt when your AC is turned on high.

If the clutch is not engaging, it means your vehicle’s AC is probably very low on Freon.

It could also mean that there is an electrical problem or the compressor has simply stopped working and should be replaced with a new one.

By adding more Freon after testing the pressure, you can determine which of these the problem is.

On the other hand, if the clutch is engaging, then there is a chance that the system just happens to be low on refrigerant.

This is so especially if the air coming out is still somewhat cold. You should test the pressure before adding refrigerant to it.

Step 3: Pressure testing. To test the pressure, you should turn the car off and locate the low side of the pressure port.

The pressure service port’s low side is usually located on the passenger side of the engine bay. It will have a grey or black cap on it with the letter “L.”

Step 4: Connect the recharge hose from the kit.

To connect the recharge hose, place the quick-connect fitting located on the end of the recharge hose, and press down firmly until you hear it click into place.

  • Refrigerant will be released from the AC system into the atmosphere if you pull the trigger at this time, so be careful not to do so.

Letting the refrigerant spread through the atmosphere is not advisable as it will contaminate the air we breathe, plus it tends to smell awful as well.

Step 5: Restart the car and check the gauge. Restart the car and ensure the air conditioner is set to the highest.

Start monitoring the gauge by watching for the AC compressor mentioned earlier to engage the clutch.

Once the compressor is engaged and the pressure of the low side is under 40 psi, then it is certain that the AC system is undercharged.

The reading should be as close to 40 psi as possible.

It shouldn’t be above 40 psi as this will mean it has been overcharged, which can call for a repair as it would lead to leaks.

So, keep a watch on the gauge and ensure it doesn’t get past 40 psi. It could get as close as possible but not more than 40 psi.

Step 6: Thread the refrigerant into the recharge hose. This allows you to slowly fill up the AC system with liquid Freon.

After installing the can, hold it upright for a few minutes and squeeze the trigger for a few seconds, five to ten seconds, to add the Freon to the AC system.

After releasing the trigger, monitor the pressure gauge to ensure you are not overcharging the system.

Continue in this way till you get as close to 40 psi as possible.

Step 7: Get back into the car and check the temperature inside.

Using a thermometer, slot it into one of the air conditioning vents located at the driver’s side, close to the steering wheel, and observe the temperature.

If the system is fully charged, the air it will release will be around 28 degrees.

What Does the Technician Do During a Car AC Recharge?

The technician will first determine the source of the issue. After that, it is usually a thorough check that can involve their equipment. They’ll also most likely take out most parts of the car AC system to use the coolant recovery machine.

If the problem is identified as a recharge issue, they’ll evaluate all the coolant in the AC system with a coolant recovery machine.

As soon as the parts are all evacuated, they’ll replace them remove the air in the system.

Worn or damaged seals get replaced, and a new refrigerant will be installed. However, if the unit is leaking, then one or two seals tend to be at fault.

Can I Recharge Car AC Myself?

While DIYs are cheaper and offer an opportunity to learn something new, it’s not always the best option, especially for issues that require professional skills.

However, if you follow the steps above, you can recharge your car AC yourself. So take note of the signs, follow the steps, and you’ll be good to go.

Since you are not a trained car mechanic or have any experience recharging vehicles’ AC, there are pros and cons to you doing it yourself.  

Pros and Cons of Recharging Car AC Yourself

Yes, recharging your car AC is cheaper, and it also saves you time. But have you considered the possibility of damaging your car in the process or if it’s harmful?


  • You can save yourself the time and hassle of taking your car to the mechanic by choosing to recharge your AC yourself.
  • It can be pretty helpful when you find yourself or live in a place quite far from a mechanic.
  • You can save yourself some bucks by doing it yourself, etc.


  • There’s a downside to using DIY tools for the job as it can end up damaging your ac system.
  • It can be very dangerous to repair a car’s AC refrigerant. The refrigerant liquid can lead to chemical burns, and you need special equipment to handle it.

How Often Should I Get My Car AC Recharged?

On average, most people recharge their car ac once every 5 years. In hot places, however, it’s possible that you’ll feel the need more often.

The safest option is to allow a professional to get the job done. If you are not a pro mechanic, you are almost bound to use DIY tools to damage your AC system.

That will, in turn, calls for a much bigger and more expensive repair than supposed.

This is by far the only thing of importance to watch out for if you want to recharge your vehicle’s AC yourself.

Related: How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Air Filter In Car?