AC Recharge Cost: How Much It Takes

by Jordan Harris
AC Recharge Cost

Imagine a world where nothing needs recharging. Everything runs fine without you have to go through the trouble of maintenance. Your car’s AC system keeps on working perfectly without any issues. But this is all fantasy. In the real world, you will often turn your key in the ignition and find out your AC system is blowing out hot hair. It needs recharging. Check out our article to find out all the nitty-gritty about an AC recharge cost.

Without the proper knowledge, this simple task can get complicated. So here in this article, we will cover the AC recharge cost and the tools and products you need.

What Is AC Recharge?

As a car has zero gaps, it can get hot inside. You can try to roll down the windows but that isn’t enough. Even the air outside can be hot. That’s why every car has an AC system. It keeps the interior of the vehicle cool and comfy.

This AC system runs on a refrigerant. The refrigerant removes moisture from the inside of the car and deposits it to the outside. So, you feel comfortable. But over time, the refrigerant will run out. It can escape through normal evaporation. Also, leaks can deprive the refrigerant. Once the refrigerant is low, the AC will no longer function properly.

It will not cool down the inside of your car. So recharging will add the right amount of refrigerant to the AC system. Therefore it will be functional again.

Why Do You Need To Recharge Your AC System

Having a car is a privilege very few of us can afford. When you are feeling down or looking for refreshment, you can just take out your car and go for a long drive.

But you need to maintain it like any other vehicle. Your car’s AC system has refrigerant in it. This refrigerant plays a crucial role in keeping your car cool and comfy.

Have you ever been in a car without a functional AC system? It feels like you are trapped in a cage. You feel like you are suffocating without any room for breathing.

That’s why you need to recharge your AC system (and if you want to learn how to recharge AC and how to recharge AC in car). With the right amount of refrigerant, your car becomes a good place to reside.

After using your car for some time, the AC system gets exhausted getting deprived of refrigerant. This is when you need to recharge it so that it can function properly again. There are times when a simple recharge is enough. But other times you need to repair it as well. All this will affect the overall AC recharge cost.

What Are The Common Refrigerants?

Currently, the most common refrigerant for modern cars is R-134a. This has been a standard since the R-12 was phased out back in the day. Although even now you can use R-12 on cars that have never been updated or serviced. But you have to use R-134A when you top up or re-gas these cars.

Now there is a new generation of refrigerants in the market known as R1234-if. This refrigerant meets the EU MAC Directive requirement. You can use it with a GWP of less than 150 in newer models.

But you can’t use this refrigerant on old non-serviced vehicles. For those, you still need R-134a refrigerant to refill.

When To Recharge Your AC?

You can easily find out when your AC system needs recharging. When the system has little to no refrigerant, it will pump out warm gas. Therefore, just turn your AC on. Then place your hand in front of the AC. If you feel warm, then take your car for AC service.

Other than this, your AC system can face leaking issues. The system has a lot of connections and internal wires all around. One leak can lead to a major problem in the whole system. If any leak occurs, you need to repair the system.

To avoid this kind of unfortunate event, regular maintenance is advised. Also at approximately 10000 miles, your car will need servicing. So, make sure to keep a lookout.

How To Know If There Is Low Refrigerant

Unlike the fuel, you can’t check if the AC system has low refrigerant. But don’t get disheartened. There are still some strategies you can follow that can give you a pretty good idea. So, the very first thing is that you will start to feel uncomfortable. When there is low refrigerant, the AC system will only pump out warm gas.

AC Recharge Cost

The next thing you can notice is the sound. Often AC system makes a hissing noise when it has low refrigerant. Notice this sound. Also when there is a low amount of refrigerant left in the AC system, ice will start to build upon the outside unit. Another important factor is the clutch. If your AC system has low refrigerant then the clutch won’t engage easily.

Can You Drive Without An AC Recharge?

Well, it’s not the end of the world to drive without an AC recharge. You can still drive your car smoothly. But it all comes to your comfort. Without AC recharge, driving a car will feel like a scene from a horror movie. You will sweat and suffocate.

If you continue to allow more gas to come out of your AC then you will start to face other complications. The seals of your AC will start to fail along with other issues. So why suffer when you can just recharge the AC system?

How To Recharge The AC

You don’t need to be a technical wizard or a mechanic to recharge your AC. But to do it properly, you need some rudimentary ideas about AC recharge costs.

First of all, figure out what kind of refrigerant your car requires. Confirm if the AC system uses an R-134 or R-1234yf. Then based on the refrigerant, you can buy a recharge kit.

This kit usually contains your preferred refrigerant along with a reusable rechargeable hose and a pressurized can. Although most cans nowadays have a hose, it is still recommended to use a proper manifold gauge for proper measurement.

Many people are afraid when it comes to recharging your AC system. But with proper guidance, even you can do it accurately.

First, let’s get some basics down. So, there are two steps in recharging your AC. The first step is to pull a vacuum on the AC system. This will draw out any air and moisture that is in the AC lines and evaporator. So, you don’t face any issues. Moisture is pretty bad for your AC system. Therefore, make sure you follow this step correctly.

The second step is the most fun part. This is where you recharge your AC system with the specific refrigerant. So now that we’ve got the basics covered let’s dive a bit deeper.

Connecting The Gauge To The AC System

There are a lot of valves you will notice. You need to connect all the valves to the AC system. Make sure to connect the high-pressure gauge to the high-pressure line and the low-pressure gauge to the low-pressure line. Remember not to mix it up with one another.

Now open the gauges and pressure sides to check if the pressure is 0 psi. Then connect the vacuum line to the vacuum pump. You don’t need to apply too much pressure. Just hand tightening them is enough.

Turning On The Vacuum Pump

Now that everything is connected, it’s time to turn the vacuum pump. After turning the vacuum pump, you have to open the high and low-pressure gauges. Now leave it this way for a couple of minutes. Then check if there are 30 inches of mercury. After that, close both the gauges for an hour. This will heal the system completely.

Finally, turn the vacuum on for about 45 minutes. This will evacuate all the moisture so the AC system is dry (for mre context, check out our guide on how to evacuate car AC system). When all of these are done, close the vacuum. Now it’s time to add the refrigerant can. Connect the refrigerant can to the AC system.

Starting The Car

Now hop in your car and turn the AC on. This will let the compressor kick on. It will draw in the refrigerants from the can. That’s pretty much it. After everything is done, disconnect all the lines and enjoy driving your car with a breath of fresh air.

Where Should You Go For An AC Recharge?

Recharging your car yourself might seem daunting to you. You need knowledge and experience to pull it off. Also, you have to separately buy all the tools which can be quite arduous. So, to save all the trouble you can just go to a mechanic to recharge the AC system.

Mechanics know all the ins and outs of a car. They will be able to recharge it without any hassle. There are even places you can that exclusively specialize in AC systems. They will give you a much more professional service.

Now, you may ask, how do I find a mechanic or a recharging place near me? Well, in this era of the internet, nothing is hard to find. Look it up on the internet. Just search “AC recharge near me” and you will have hundreds of search results. Go to the ones that have low cost and great service.

How Much Does It Cost To Recharge The AC System?

The cost of recharging an AC system is not that expensive. It is nowhere near the costs associated with making other kinds of AC repairs.

A professional AC recharge usually costs between $150 to $300 on average. It will heavily depend on your vehicle. Refrigerant losses occur from time to time. So, this service should also be added to the maintenance schedule.

AC Recharge Cost

If you think that you can recharge your AC by yourself, you can take the DIY route. This will cost you about $40 to $60 for a recharge kit. You may think like this is a much better deal. But sometimes recharging the AC system isn’t enough. That’s why you need to understand what’s going on in the AC system before making the decision.

Also, make sure you do a leak test before refilling the AC system. A leak test will cost you about $100 to $150. Don’t let some random mechanic handle your car. They will do more harm than good. Only allow an AC-certified workshop to work with your AC system.

AC Recharge Cost Comparison

The AC recharge cost will significantly differ based on your car model. For instance, if you own a Ford F-Series then it will cost you about $203 to $281.

In the case of a Chevrolet Silverado, it will cost about $203 to $281. The most common car of the current time is the Toyota Corolla, to recharge a Toyota Corolla’s AC system, you will need to pay $183 to $250.

For a Ford Focus, the price goes up from $203 to $281. Nissan Altima is another common car that many people drive today. It’s also the first car for a lot of people. The AC recharge cost of Nissan Altima is approximately $183 to $25.

If you own a Ford Fusion, then recharging will cost you $203 to $281. That pretty much covers all the modern cars available today. If you want to know about your particular car’s AC recharge cost, try looking it up on the internet.

What Parts Are Needed For An AC Recharge?

You need to have some idea about what parts are required for an AC recharge. This requirement will greatly affect the overall cost of the AC recharge. First of all, you will need an AC refrigerant. This goes for all models.

Then AC refrigerant oil is preferred. This helps the lubrication and removal of heat. Other than the oil, you can also use an AC leak detector fluid. As the name suggests, it will detect if there are any significant leaks in the system.

Other than this, you can get a new condenser, a fan, O rings, and other kinds of stuff as well. You should only get these parts when they are either leaking or faulty.

Repairs Related To AC Recharge

There are a bunch of other repairs that are commonly associated with AC recharge. Many parts of the AC system sometimes need replacement. This is either because they have leaks or some kind of technical issue. The main parts that need replacements are the condenser, expansion valve, and condenser fan. Also sometimes the AC pipes, O-rings, and pressure switches need replacement.

Driving without a functioning aircon due to a lack of Freon can be highly discomforting

Now let’s get to the price of these replacements. A condenser replacement cost will approximately cost about $200 to $500. On the other hand, an condenser fan replacement will cost you $100 to $300. The expansion valve replacement has a price of $100 to $250.

O rings, AC pipes, and AC pressure switches are much cheaper to buy. So, their replacement cost is significantly lower. An AC O-rings replacement costs about $20 to $100. On the other, you will need to pay about $50 to $200 for a pipes replacement. An AC pressure switch replacement will cost you approximately $50 to $100.

How To Save Money On AC Recharge Cost?

You can try to save money by comparing rates between different mechanics around you. Also, another good way is to get some of the parts from your sources at a relatively lower cost.

As we mentioned before you can try to recharge it on your own with a repair kit. This route is also much cheaper.

Tips For AC Recharge

Experts always know the best. That’s why here are some mechanics tips that will help you in the future dealing with AC recharge.

Remember to take a leak test every time you go for a refill. If there’s a leak in your AC system, refilling will completely go to waste. Also, you should vacuum test. Water in the AC system can damage the whole system very quickly. Some mechanisms recommend taking the pressure test rather than the vacuum test. Vacuum tests sometimes seal the small leaks. But the pressure test checks out everything.

Remember to check the AC compressor clutches as well as the AC pressure sensors before you indulge in recharging the AC system. If it’s not working properly or not engaging, you might need to do some work. You have to have some extra time to remove the shims from the inside. This will make it more functional.

What Happens If You Overcharge Your AC?

While recharging, sometimes we go overboard. This is known as overcharge. This usually happens when you try to recharge the AC refrigerant by yourself. So, to recharge you need to deliver the right amount of refrigerant to the air conditioning system.

If you deliver too much, it will result in an overcharge of the system. That’s why always be careful when you recharge your AC system.

But even if you manage to be careful, this kind of event can still occur. If you overcharge the system somehow, don’t try to fix it yourself. Take your car to a well-known mechanic. They will check the whole system and service it.

Can Your Car Be Sold If It Has A Faulty AC?

Sometimes just by recharging your AC system, it will start blowing cold air again. But oftentimes the issue is much more serious. You might need to repair some of the parts or even replace them. For this kind of case, the cost can be quite high. You can even buy a new car with the amount of money you have to spend on the replacement.

If your car is quite new, then you don’t want to sell it. But if it’s an old car then you can consider selling it when it’s having AC problems. The trouble and cost of AC recharge might not be worth it.

You may wonder who will buy an old car with a bad AC system. But you would be surprised. There are tons of buyers out there ready to purchase your car. You can put ads on different websites like eBay. They will pay you good money and take it off your hands. Then with that money, you can buy a better car with a functioning AC system.

Is The AC Recharge Cost Worth It?

You might be wondering if the AC recharge cost is worth it or not. You could just drive in a car with non-functional AC. What’s the worst that can happen? The answer is a lot can happen.

Imagine it’s a summer day. The sun is shining on top of your head. The atmosphere is extremely hot. The heat is stinging your skin. You want to lay down in your bed and turn on your AC. But you have to go to work.

So, you go to your car and then try to turn your AC system. But, it isn’t working! You have to drive for an hour in a car with no AC in this hot weather. Believe me, it feels like you are in hell. There will only be hot air around you. You will only want to get out of the car as soon as possible.

You can avoid all this misery just by recharging it. After recharging your AC system, your car will make it work like it’s brand new.

But it’s not the only reason why you should fix your AC. AC recharge cost is worth it because it reduces the other problems associated with the AC system. Therefore, you don’t have to pay tons of money for repair or replacement. Just recharging your AC system is more than enough.

DIY Car AC Recharge: Step-by-Step Guide and FAQs

  • Recharging the AC with refrigerant will allow the system to blow cool air again, and you can do it yourself without rushing to a mechanic.
  • To recharge your car’s AC, you’ll need an AC recharge kit, gloves, a thermometer, and safety glasses.
  • Before starting the process, wear gloves and safety glasses, turn ON the AC, and check if the AC compressor is working. If not, the system needs to be topped.
  • Locate the low-side pressure port, usually on the passenger side of the engine bay, and attach the recharge hose from the AC refill kit to the port.
  • Monitor the gauge to determine the pressure and recharge the system with refrigerant till it reaches the optimal level, holding the can upright for good flow and not overcharging the system.
  • After recharging, note the temperature inside the car and check if you feel the difference immediately, or place a thermometer near one of the AC vents to see if the temperature has come down.
  • Recharging your car’s AC yourself can cost you $40 to $50 for a car AC recharge kit, compared to $150 to $300 if you get it done professionally.
  • You should recharge your car’s AC when the air coming out of the vents is warm or based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • DIY methods to recharge your car’s AC should take you anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If you still find the AC not working properly after recharging, it’s recommended to visit a mechanic since the issue could be more serious.

Final Thoughts

To relieve our stress and tension, we often take out our car and go for a drive. The scenes we see from the car window refreshes our mind. We put on our favorite song and just get lost in the moment. But this amazing experience can turn into a nightmare if the AC system doesn’t work. Nothing will feel alright then. Even the most melodious song will sound cacophonous and the most beautiful scenes will look bland.

That’s why always remember to recharge your AC system keeping the AC recharge cost in mind. So you can enjoy driving your car. When the AC runs properly, you will never want to get out of the car. It will become a paradise for you.

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