4 Signs That Your Car A/C Needs to be Recharged

The AC system in your car works by extracting excess heat and humidity from the interior air, keeping you comfortable while you drive. Just like the air conditioner in your home, your car’s AC system uses a refrigerant that absorbs warm air.

The last thing you need on a humid, sweltering summer afternoon is a hot car. If your car’s AC isn’t working properly, it may be low on refrigerant. The most common cause of low refrigerant levels is air conditioning leaks. AC leaks develop due to normal wear and tear and damaged or loose AC system components.

A refrigerant leak can affect your AC’s efficiency. As a result, it may not cool properly. Also, the air pressure in your car may decrease. If the refrigerant level decreases significantly, your car's AC may refuse to start.

If you are looking for Auto AC Repair Near You in Santa Rosa then look no further than GreenTech Automotive. Our skilled team is equipped to handle any AC repair and can get your car back to cool temperatures in no time.

What Does AC Recharge Entail?

During an AC recharge, your mechanic will remove the old refrigerant from your car's AC system and fill it with fresh refrigerant. If your car needs other repairs, your mechanic may first carry them out before recharging your AC. After topping up the refrigerant, the professional will check your car’s AC to make sure it is functioning properly.

The Importance of AC Recharge 

AC refrigerant circulates within the air conditioning system, moving heat from the car's interior to the engine area so it can be released into the surrounding air. When the refrigerant level is adequate, the low-pressure refrigerant passing through the evaporator inside the vehicle absorbs heat to cool the air inside your car.

But when the refrigerant level drops, your compressor is forced to go into overdrive. It works extra hard to push refrigerant into the high-pressure side. The extra work puts additional stress on your compressor, and it may stop cycling. Not to mention, when your car’s AC is low on refrigerant, its performance takes a hit. If you have a hybrid or an EV, ensuring proper refrigerant level is even more critical or your AC may stop working and the high-voltage battery pack may overheat. 

Low refrigerant can lead to AC system damage. In addition to cooling your car, refrigerant lubricates the seals within the AC system. If your AC is low on refrigerant, and you keep running it, serious damage could occur to the seals over time.

How Often Does Car AC Need to be Recharged?

There's no standardized recommendation from manufacturers or the automotive industry regarding when to recharge a car's AC. Given that your car’s AC is a closed system, you need not recharge it as frequently as changing essential car fluids or rotating your tires. Always refer to your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) might recommend periodically inspecting certain car AC system components. A car's air conditioning system can go on for many years without requiring a recharge, but if a refrigerant leak occurs, it may need to be recharged sooner than expected.

Here are some signs your car’s AC is low on refrigerant and needs to be recharged.

Your AC Blows Warm/hot air Instead of Cool air

The most obvious sign that your car’s AC needs to be recharged is if it blows warm air instead of cool air. When the refrigerant level drops, your evaporator core might not achieve the ideal temperature for cooling. Your AC may blow cool air immediately when you start it, but the system may gradually start blowing warm air. Or it might blow warm air from the onset. Whatever the case may be, schedule professional auto AC repair near you in Santa Rosa immediately.

Visible Leaks

If you notice pools of refrigerant under your vehicle or an oily residue on AC parts, it's likely that a leak has occurred. Before things take a turn for the worse and your AC breaks down, have a professional inspect the system.

The AC Clutch Doesn't Engage

Do you hear a subtle clicking sound when you start your air conditioner? This is a sign that the AC clutch on your compressor is engaged. On most vehicles, the clutch activates when the right amount of pressure is achieved in the system. If the refrigerant level is either too low or too high, the system might not allow the compressor clutch to engage. As a result, refrigerant does not circulate, and your car doesn’t cool.

Glitchy Condenser or Compressor

A faulty compressor or condenser in your car's AC system can cause major car problems. Generally, these parts are low-maintenance and are designed to last as long as the vehicle itself. Normal wear and tear, age-related deterioration, blockages, or clogs can cause them to malfunction. To prevent costly repairs and to keep your AC working at its optimal efficiency, inspect these parts regularly and address any problems right away.

Reasons to Hire a Professional to Recharge Your Car’s AC

Many car owners use DIY recharge kits to recharge their car AC. The problem with most car AC recharge kits is that they do not have the right equipment and gauges to accurately measure freon pressure. No wonder many car owners end up overcharging their AC systems.

Plus, DIY recharge kits often do not work on older vehicles. When recharging a car’s AC systems, an experienced mechanic first clears out the old refrigerant and removes moisture and contaminants. Once the system is clean, they use gauges and a vapor temperature chart to check the refrigerant level and then recharge it.

Many refrigerants can damage the environment. If you try to handle refrigerant yourself, you may accidentally release it into the atmosphere. Professionals use advanced tools and tried and tested techniques to capture and dispose of old refrigerants safely.

Most importantly, you may miss a refrigerant leak and simply recharge your car’s AC. This is a temporary fix. A professional can carry out a thorough inspection to determine why your AC is low on refrigerant. Once the professional identifies the root cause of the problem, they will solve it once and for all.

GreenTech Automotive is a leading car repair shop in Santa Rosa. Our technicians are equipped to perform all types of car repairs. To learn more, call (707) 545-7076.