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So your air conditioning (AC) is blowing hotter air than a politician hoping for reelection Bummer! Rolling down the windows only goes so far, and sitting in a stagnant olfactory pool of under-thigh sweat and oil-rich exhaust is a recipe for an uncomfortable and nauseating ride.
Contrary to the supposed belief that AC injects icy air into the cabin, an AC system creates the feeling of cool air by making the hot air less hot. It removes heat instead of adding cold. This is achieved with a circulation system that includes both a compressor and a condenser and relies on refrigerant, which absorbs heat. The most common reason for an AC system to heat up is a low level of that refrigerant.
Fortunately, that is also the easiest to solve. To make you feel icy and cool again in the summer heat,To laughs information team is here to show you exactly what you need, what to do and how to do it.
Now let's follow these steps to learn how to charge car AC.
Opladen Auto AC Basics
Estimated time required: Half an hour
Skill level: Beginner
Vehicle system: AC system
How does car AC work?
There are seven main components of a car's AC system. The system uses a closed-loop format and runs refrigerant everywhere. This is the role of each piece of the puzzle:
- Compressor: Driven by a belt drive, the compressor draws in cool gaseous refrigerant, heats up the refrigerant and pumps the refrigerant through the AC system loop. From the compressor, the pressurized refrigerant passes through the high-pressure hose to the condenser.
- Condenser: The condenser changes the gaseous refrigerant into a liquid refrigerant. The air flowing through the condenser helps to cool the hot refrigerant and remove the heat from the air conditioner. This cools the refrigerant to a liquid. From the condenser, the refrigerant goes to the receiver/drier.
- Receiver/Dryer: A canister or reservoir that helps remove moisture from the AC system. If water gets into the system, it can freeze and damage the components of an AC system.
- Thermal expansion valve/orifice tube: Between the dryer and the evaporator there is a valve that restricts the flow of the liquid refrigerant and lowers the temperature. This allows the refrigerant to expand and the pressure to drop.
- Evaporator: The evaporator is usually located under the dashboard in the car. Low pressure cool refrigerant enters the evaporator and turns into a gas as it absorbs heat from the cabin.
- Accumulator: An accumulator is usually located between the evaporator and the condenser. Like a receiver/dryer, it acts as a system filter and helps remove moisture, whether water or refrigerant.
- Refrigerant: The refrigerant used in automotive AC systems is called R134a or 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane. It is a chemical gas with a boiling point of 15 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. However, this boiling point rises under pressure and condenses into a liquid.
Auto AC safety
Working on your car can be dangerous and messy, so here's just what you need to make sure you don't die, get maimed or lose a finger.
- Safety glasses
- Mechanical Gloves
In addition, working with cans of compressed air comes with its own safety risks. Never leave the pressurized can in direct heat or on a hot engine block. In extremely rare cases, the can can be heated to the point that the compressed air explodes.
REMARK: Spraying refrigerant into the air isILLEGAL.
Everything you need to charge your AC
Take a short trip to the local auto parts store and you're good to go.
- Can of coolant
- Hose coupling, if not supplied with coolant.
Or if you don't fancy a bunch of parts and want everything you need neatly in one place, you can get aAC charging set.
Organizing your tools and equipment so that everything you need to charge your AC is within easy reach saves you precious minutes while you wait for your handy kid or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or torch. (You don't need a blowtorch for this job. Please don't let your child give you a blowtorch - Ed.)
You also need a flat work area to properly charge your AC, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking. Please check your local laws to make sure you are not breaking any codes when using the street as we will not get your ride out of the ring.
Here's how to charge car AC
Anyone who can follow instructions can charge car AC. Grab your goggles and gloves, grab the refrigerant and connection hose and let's get cold!
- Turn the car on, make sure it is in park and apply the parking brake.
- Turn the AC to the coldest setting, turn the fan to the highest setting and press the button to recirculate the air.
- Open the hood, locate the AC low pressure service port between the compressor and evaporator and remove the plastic cap. If you can't find the service port, A/C Pro offers a handy online port finder. A second method is to use the coolant hose connector, as this only fits the low pressure port.
- Connect the hose to the low pressure point with the attachment hose disconnected from the coolant canister.
- While the compressor is running, look at the included gauge and turn the temperature dial to the current temperature.
- If the pressure reading is in the red area of the gauge,not charging. This is a sign of a bigger problem, possibly a faulty or malfunctioning compressor.
- If the PSI is less than the "full" range indicated on the gauge, it needs more coolant.
- Disconnect the hose from the service port.
- Remove the safety tab from the refrigerant canister, shake the canister, and reattach the gauge and hose to the canister.
- Connect the hose to the low pressure service port and use the trigger to fill the system with coolant. Rotate the can up and down to maintain good coolant flow.
- Use the built-in meter to determine when the system is full. Don't overload.
- Remove the connector from the port and recycle all empty cans according to local recycling laws.
You did it, congratulations!
Get car AC charging help from a mechanic on JustAnswer
To laughrecognizes that while our How-To guides are detailed and easy to follow, a rusty bolt, an engine part that is out of position, or oil leaks anywhere can derail a project. That's why we've teamed up with JustAnswer, which puts you in touch with certified technicians around the world, to get you through even the toughest jobs.
So if you have a question or get stuck,click hereand talk to a technician near you.
Pro tips to charge car AC
Over the yearsTo laugh's editors have worked on dozens of vehicles and spent hundreds of hours tinkering under fluorescent garage lights. During our experiences we picked up a few tricks and noted the important things. Here's what we've learned in our time on car AC charging.
- Do not overfill the system with refrigerant. This can damage the system's internal components.
- If a system gets cold after charging but pumps out warm air again, there may be a leak in the system. An easy way to detect that is by using arefrigerant leak detector.
Related post:Best RV Air Conditioners
How often should you charge car AC?
Refrigerant slowly leaks from a car's AC system, but there is no schedule to follow for AC maintenance. If you own one of the AC pressure gauges, just use it to check the system when the AC seems to lose its composure.
How much does it cost to charge car AC?
A basic can of generic refrigerant costs less than $10. A can with a hose and a gauge will probably cost around $40-50.
Lifehacks to charge car AC
Since you may not have access to the right tools, or have a friend you can get a key from, we've also put together our best hacks to make your life easier and drain your wallet less.
- If you have access to a chain auto parts store such as O'Reilly's, Autozone, or Advanced Auto Parts, you don't need to buy the coolant with the hose built in. These stores will lend you the tools to use with the can of coolant you just purchased.
Featured automotive AC products
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