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July 27, 2021

7 Steps to Recharging Your Car A/C the Right Way

If your car feels more and more like a sauna each day, it’s probably time to simply recharge your car A/C if there’s no other defect that can be found.

Recharging your A/C means adding refrigerant to your A/C system. That’s because having a low refrigerant level is the most common reason why an A/C system fails to function properly.

Fortunately for drivers, it’s also one of the easiest fixes to perform. Keep in mind that recharging your A/C as soon as it loses refrigerant is likely to solve a bigger problem. Don’t wait until you have to pay hundreds of dollars for major repairs.

Also, keep in mind that vehicles use different types of refrigerants. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to find out what refrigerant your car uses before replenishing it. Remember that different automotive refrigerant types don’t mix.

If your old car is still using the R12 type of refrigerant, be aware that it has been banned from all new cars sold in the U.S. since 1994. It’s because that type of refrigerant, although effective and cheap, was found to be partially responsible for the depletion of our ozone layer.

 If you’re still using a car equipped with R12 refrigerant, you can have it converted to work with a newer refrigerant type.

Most vehicles today use the R134a refrigerant in their A/C systems. It’s safer to use, has low flammability, and has been touted as “less harmful” to the environment.

However, because this type of refrigerant has been found to still have a lot of greenhouse gas potential, all new vehicles sold in America after the year 2021 can no longer use it. R1234yf was chosen to replace R134a in all new cars by 2021. Some car manufacturers have already made the switch, so be sure to check what refrigerant your car’s A/C is equipped with.

Now, after finding out your A/C’s refrigerant type, the big question is: How do your recharge your car’s A/C?

To keep your vehicle cool even in scorching hot weather, Veteran Car Donations is here to walk you through every step of the way.

But first, let’s talk about safety. Make sure that you have your safety glasses at all times whenever you’re doing some work under the hood. Also, be extra careful not to get the refrigerant on your skin as it tends to freeze quickly and can be dangerous.

Follow all the instructions provided in you’re A/C recharge kit. Take time to go through the warning labels of each canister you have.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the A/C recharging steps:


You’ll need:

  • AC dispenser with trigger and low side gauge
  • Refrigerant (look for the vehicle requirement on the underside of your hood)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Safety glasses and gloves


Step 1: Turn on your AC.

Park your car, start it, and turn it to its coldest mode. Crank the fan to its highest setting and press the button to circulate the air.


Step 2: Check if the A/C compressor is engaging.

If you’re not familiar, an A/C compressor is the one responsible for converting the refrigerant from liquid to gas. It has a clutch at the end of it, which should spin along with the accessory belt when the A/C is on high.

If the clutch doesn’t engage the compressor, then you’re A/C system is experiencing one of these issues:

  • It is very low on refrigerant.
  • The compressor itself has failed.
  • There’s an electrical problem.

Adding more refrigerant after testing the pressure will determine which of these is the culprit, which brings us to the next step.


Step 3: Test the pressure.

Turn your car off and find the low-side pressure port. In most vehicles, the port is located on the passenger side of the engine bay. You can easily identify it as it has a gray or black cap with an “L” label.

If you’re unsure, consult your service manual or local mechanic store.


Step 4: Attach the recharge hose.

Place the quick-connect fitting of the recharge hose over the pressure port and push it down until you hear a click. Don’t pull the trigger simultaneously as it will release refrigerant from the A/C system into the air.


Step 5: Monitor the gauge.

Restart your car and adjust the A/C to its highest settings. Keep an eye on the gauge once the compressor is engaged. A reading that’s below 40 psi means that the A/C system is undercharged.


Step 6: Top off the AC system with liquid refrigerant.

To do this, thread the refrigerant can onto the recharge hose. Then, hold the can upright and squeeze the trigger for 5 to 10 seconds. After releasing the trigger, check the pressure gauge to see that you’re not overcharging.


Step 7: Check the temperature inside your car.

Insert a thermometer into one of the A/C vents on the driver’s side and read the temperature. A fully charged system blows air as cold as 28°, although it may also vary depending on ambient temperature, or whether your vehicle has been at rest.

A pressure over 40 psi is considered high. If that’s the case, you need to seek professional assistance.

Otherwise, you’re good to go! Your car A/C should be up and running now. Say goodbye to those sweaty car rides!


Get Rid of Your Clunker for a Meaningful Cause

Do you have a beat-up car with a defective A/C system that you’ve been itching to dispose of but still haven’t because you can’t find any interested buyer? Well, how about you just donate it to us here at Veteran Car Donations instead? It’s not only the fastest and easiest way to get rid of a clunker, but it will also make you a hero to our heroes!

By making such a donation to us, you’ll help provide a bright future for our former service members who are facing tough challenges in life. They are the brave men and women who willingly risked their lives to protect us all from harm. Now, they are burdened with chronic unemployment, service-connected disabilities, mental illnesses, and homelessness due to extreme poverty.

Your vehicle donation can make a difference in their lives. We’ll have it auctioned off and use the proceeds to support the life-enriching programs of our veteran-focused nonprofit partners. These IRS-approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations use the funding to provide deserving vets with free quality health care, financial aid, employment opportunities, family support, educational scholarships, housing assistance, psychotherapy services, and many other benefits.

As one of your rewards, your gift will entitle you to receive the maximum tax deduction in the next tax season. We’ll mail you your 100% tax-deductible sales receipt a few days after selling your car.

You’ll also get to benefit from our free professional towing service. Moreover, you’ll enjoy our quick and convenient donation process where you don’t have to do any paperwork.

Above all, you’ll have the ultimate pleasure and satisfaction of doing something extraordinary that can help uplift the lives of our nation’s heroes.

We take in nearly all vehicle types, including those that are no longer in good condition. You can donate wherever you are in the country since we operate in all 50 states

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call us at 877-594-5822 or you may send us a message here. Check out our FAQs page for more information on our donation program.


Let Our Heroes Know You Truly Care

There’s no better way to repay our vets than by helping them get back on their feet. All it takes is a simple vehicle donation. Call Veteran Car Donations at 877-594-5822 or fill out our online donation form to get started now!

Veteran Car Donations operates in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Or call (877) 594-5822!