Can I use an AC car recharge kit if my car’s AC system is over ten years old?

AC car recharge kit if my car’s AC system

If your car’s AC system blew ice-cold air last year and now only blows warm air, it may be low on refrigerant. An easy-to-use a/c recharge kit can be purchased at your local auto parts store to refill your compressor with the proper amount of refrigerant and compressor oil. However, this DIY service will not fix your compressor or fix your cooling problem, and it can actually make the issue worse. Most recharge kits contain a can of refrigerant and a reusable recharge hose outfitted with an inline pressure gauge. They also include a plastic safety disc, a wrench and a detailed instruction booklet.

The pressure gauge on the recharge hose must be attached to a vacuum pump and to an air conditioning manifold gauge set (available through the AutoZone Loan-A-Tool program). A simple pressure gauge on a can of refrigerant is not accurate, and can result in overcharging your system. A professional recharging service will evacuate the system before charging it, and use a precise refrigerant weight gauge to ensure your air conditioner gets just the right amount of refrigerant.

Over time, the seals in your car ac recharge kit system can break down and allow water and moisture into the closed system. When this occurs, the water and refrigerant will hydrolyze, or form hydrochloric and hydroflouric acids that corrode components and cause leaks. Recharge kits that offer a “stop-leak sealer” may temporarily plug leaks, but these products will likely cause long-term problems, costing you more in the future than simply having a professional shop restore your compressor to the proper working condition it needs to cool your car.

Can I use an AC car recharge kit if my car’s AC system is over ten years old?

Another issue with recharge kits is that they don’t properly evacuate the existing refrigerant from your AC system before adding new refrigerant. This can lead to overcharging your system, which will eventually lead to damage and poor performance. A certified technician will evacuate the system, remove all the existing refrigerant and moisture, and install fresh refrigerant and compressor oil that’s correct for your vehicle’s manufacturer specifications.

One more thing to consider is that many recharge kits are only able to deliver refrigerant up to the low-side port in your compressor. This can be problematic if your air conditioner has a high-side port. This can result in an overcharge of the system, causing compressor damage and resulting in warm air instead of ice-cold air.

If your a/c is low on refrigerant, or you’re experiencing cooling problems, it’s best to let a professional technician perform the necessary diagnostics and repair to restore your air conditioner to its optimal performance. By taking your car to an experienced technician, you’ll be assured that the job is done correctly and your air conditioner will cool your vehicle as it should. The average professional AC recharging service costs about $90-$130, far less than the cost of costly repairs if you’ve used a recharge kit to replace the wrong type of refrigerant or damaged the compressor. In addition, a professional will use a complete set of tools to properly evacuate the system and to ensure the proper amount of refrigerant is installed.

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