If your car’s air conditioner isn’t cooling or there’s a damp smell coming from the air vents, it’s time for a regas. Rattling or other noises coming from the unit can also be a sign a service is due. Unsure how to diagnose the problem? Here’s how to check and regas your car’s air con.
Should You DIY an Air Con Regas?
Carrying-out a car air con regas is more complex than a few tweaks. Although it is possible to do it yourself, the process can be difficult, time consuming and dangerous. If not performed properly, damage may be costly. Risks of a DIY regas include:
- Handling refrigerant can be unsafe, including potential freeze burns if the gas contacts the skin
- Contaminants can leak into the rest of the car’s A/C system
- Mixing the car’s old refrigerant with new may seem like a cost-effective option but could cause dangerous chemical reactions, depending on the age of your car and its service history
- DIY fixes can also lead to extensive damage to the system’s components, including the sealer, compressor, valve and drier
To avoid these problems, engage a qualified auto electrician. However, a DIY repair can be achieved if you have the right skills.
How to Check and Fix a Car’s Air Con
To check and fix a car’s air con, here’s a DIY step-by-step guide:
- Determine how much refrigerant and what type you’ll need. Check the car’s manual or engine sticker for recommended brand, which is typically based on what year the car was manufactured. Use necessary safety precautions, such as wearing goggles, long sleeves and gloves, before handling the refrigerant
- Cars blowing out no air will likely need two cans of refrigerant. However, if it’s still blowing a little cold, one can is fine
- Turn off the engine (at least an hour before to allow to cool)
- Avoid touching any other part of the engine, including hoses when under the car’s hood
- Locate unit hoses
- Use a refrigerant dispenser with pressure gauge to fill the port
- Connect the hose by twisting the can as you put it on. Before you lock in the pin, locate the low-pressure point of the A/C (it should have an L on the cap). Remove the cap to connect the other end of hose
- Turn the engine on and set the A/C to high on the coldest setting
- Turn the pressure gauge counter clockwise to release refrigerant. Keep an eye on the gauge as you fill
- Once full, remove the hose and lock the pin and cap back into place, turn off the engine
Signs Your System Needs a Service
A well-serviced air con unit is beneficial for more than cooling air. It also warms dehumidified air in winter, filters pollutants and pollen (ideal for allergy sufferers) and eliminates odours in the car.
Some signs which indicate your car’s air conditioner may need a service or regas:
- Weak air flow. To diagnose the problem, check the air filter to see if it’s blocked or turn off heat for potential blower motor problems
- Cold air which turns warm. This can be because of a faulty compressor, leak or clogged valve
To maintain a healthy car air con unit, an annual re-gas is important. Systems that are serviced regularly have minimal costs and help reduce electrical glitches, faulty cooling fans and other potential unit problems. For more information on how a qualified technician can help, contact an Autospark branch.