Is the air coming from the vents in your car just not as cold as it used to be? You've likely run low on refrigerant in your A/C system.
Over time, tiny amounts of refrigerant leak from the lines, degrading A/C performance. The solution is simple - put more back in.
Recharging your air conditioner yourself is inexpensive and can be completed in just a few minutes. This is one of the most quick and easy tasks to perform when maintaining a vehicle, but holds the potential to cause problems with the air conditioning system if done incorrectly, so read each step very carefully before proceeding. When finished, your air conditioner should make icy cold air, and the whole process should only set you back about 25-35 dollars and 15 minutes of your time.
This guide will contain information on how to recharge your air conditioner with refrigerant 134a or r-134a.
How Air Conditioners Work:
An air conditioner has three main parts. A condenser, a compressor, and an evaporator. The condenser and evaporator are, more or less, two radiators connected in a loop. The compressor is situated between them on one side of the loop. The system is sealed from the outside, and filled with a working fluid, in this case r-134a. The compressor takes low pressure, gaseous, r-134a, compresses it (which creates heat), then sends it to the condenser, where the heat is dissipated to the outside. After the condenser, liquid refrigerant travels to the evaporator, located inside the passenger compartment, where it is allowed to expand, removing heat and cooling the evaporator. The fan directs air over the evaporator, then out the air vents in your car.
Because the working fluid gets both very hot and very cold, it is important to keep moisture out of the system, as ice forming in the compressor can damage it.
As always, neither Instructables nor myself are responsible for any damage you may cause to yourself, your vehicle, or others.
Step 1: What You Will Need and What You Should Know
First, was your car made before 1994? If so, your car likely uses R-12, and this guide isn't for you. However, if you search the engine bay and find a sticker stating that the system has been converted for use with r-134a, continue.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
- Two 12oz. cans of r-134a refrigerant ($9.99/ea)
- One refrigerant dispenser ($16.00)
- One pair of goggles
Purchase the plain r-134a refrigerant from the bottom shelf. Don't be fooled by the shiny cans that have leak sealants and performance enhancers. These are just "snake oil" and can actually harm your A/C system.
Your dispenser needs to have both a pressure gauge and a trigger. These are not optional, and are required to do this safely and correctly. DO NOT purchase the dispenser/refrigerant combos.
Note: I do not endorse idQ, EZChill, or SpeedSteed in any way. These are the parts that I happened to choose, and I am sure their competitor's products are just as good.