How to recharge the air conditioner in a car

Automotive master - learning theory

There are two options for recharging your air conditioner. The first is a car service. There, to begin with, you will be given a complete diagnosis of the entire air conditioning system. If there are any malfunctions or breakdowns, they will be fixed for you immediately. To refill car air conditioners, car service stations have a special installation that replaces both the pressure gauge and the freon cylinder required for manual refilling. In addition, specialists will change the oil in the compressor.

We recommend using the services of such car services whenever possible, but at one point it may not be available. This is where the knowledge you gained about refueling a car air conditioner yourself will come in handy. Before you start refilling yourself, be sure to check what type of freon is needed to operate your device. Most modern cars use R-134 freon for air conditioning, but in older models you can find R-12 freon.

Information about the contents of your car's air conditioner will probably be found in its service book. Isn't it available? Then look under the hood for a technical installation plate, as in the video - among other parameters, the type of freon must be indicated there. As for the amount of freon, most cars are equipped with systems that require no more than 600 grams to fully refill. In any case, the car air conditioner is charged according to the pressure shown by the pressure gauge, so if you cannot find out the exact numbers, then follow the arrow of the device.

Where is the right place to change?

Ideally at specialized stations. Who know the correct replacement algorithm:

  • A special device is connected
  • Next, the old freon is pumped out and weighed
  • Old oil is also pumped out; it is usually black in color.
  • Next, fill with freon as much as needed by weight (let me remind you, I have almost 600 grams)
  • Add as much oil as needed; my manual says about 100 grams. Moreover, you need to add fresh, usually it is transparent.

And only then is the system properly charged, and the compressor will work for a VERY long time.

On the roads, usually no one will do this to you, usually they just build up the pressure in the cold circuit and that’s it! Not by weight, and no added lubricant

Young mechanic's kit - what is needed for refueling?

Refilling a car's air conditioner with your own hands requires at least minimal technical skills and knowledge, as well as a set of equipment. At the factory, when refilling air conditioners, they use electric scales, but such a device is not very convenient to use when partially refilling car air conditioners - we cannot know how many grams of freon are in the pipeline. But the pressure gauge can show what the pressure is inside - this parameter is much easier to navigate.

The necessary set of tools for refueling with your own hands can be purchased at any auto store. So, you will need a pressure gauge to determine the pressure in the system. Look at the video to see what this tool looks like. You need to buy a set of car hoses for it. As a rule, a set includes 3 pieces, although in practice you only need two.

You will also need a vacuum pump to extract air and moisture from the lines and evaporator - their presence also harms the air conditioning process. You should also get an adapter for the main pipe of your car. Adapters for refilling car air conditioners are different, so it is better to buy a set, it will be useful to you in the future. And, of course, buy the right type of freon, which is traditionally sold in cylinders. Even for a full refueling, one cylinder per kilogram will be enough for you.

How often should you recharge your air conditioner?

R134a or R1234yf freon circulates inside the air conditioning system of modern cars. Cars produced before 1992 used R132 gas.

Freon of all these types is characterized by high volatility. This means that even in a working system with highly tight connections, freon evaporates into the atmosphere in small quantities. The operating conditions of the car air conditioner also contribute to this – temperature changes, constant vibrations.

With intensive use of the air conditioner, a leak of up to 10% of the filling volume per year is considered normal. Therefore, already 3-5 years after filling, there may not be enough refrigerant in the system for the entire system to operate efficiently. The air conditioner may turn on, but the cooling will be weak. If you have to refill freon every season, there is a large leak in the system that needs to be found and fixed.

How to understand that a refueling is needed

To recharge the air conditioner, you need to understand the principle of its operation. It is very important to determine whether the air conditioner really needs recharging. According to its purpose, an air conditioner can both cool the air and maintain a certain temperature in the cabin.

The liquid that circulates in the air conditioning system plays a key role in cooling. Despite the reliability of air conditioners, time takes its toll, and a freon leak may soon occur. The normal annual loss is 15%, but if this figure changes upward, then something needs to be done with the car air conditioner.

The standard time for refilling the unit with freon is after three years of operation. But if the unit is old, refueling must be done more often. Regardless of the outcome, refueling occurs the same way.

There is no point in recharging the air conditioner if any part of the system is damaged and not functioning properly. If the problem is not very serious, you can fix it yourself, but when serious damage or breakdown occurs, it is best to contact a specialized salon.

Cold air circulated in the cabin is returned to the system. This happens thanks to the fan. The air conditioner should be recharged only when it stops functioning correctly, that is, it stops cooling the interior. But you shouldn’t expect a complete breakdown of the entire system or its failure. It is best to carry out preventative refills that will extend the life of your system. Such refueling occurs once every two years. You should also check the rubber seals, the life of which is also limited. Due to temperature changes and vibration, they can change for the worse.

Replacing freon not only helps the system cool. Since freon contains oil, replacing it allows you to keep all elements of the system in excellent condition. The service life of the device is significantly increased.

If refueling is carried out on your own, the car’s instructions can help with this like no other. Or rather, instructions for refilling car air conditioners.

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Refueling the split system

Let's imagine that we have already found and eliminated the cause of the leak. Now you need to fully charge the air conditioner. What we need to do:

  1. We bleed off the remaining freon in the system. unscrew the nuts of the copper tubes on the external block counterclockwise.
  2. When all the gas is released, screw the nuts and tubes back.
  3. Connect the LEFT pressure gauge hose to the fitting of the external unit (to which a large diameter tube fits). Connect the MIDDLE pressure gauge hose to the vacuum pump. We open both taps on the external block with a hexagon so that the air is then pumped out from the entire system (from the internal and external blocks and from the tubes).
  4. We start the pump and open the LEFT tap on the pressure gauge (counterclockwise).
  5. We wait a few minutes until the air is pumped out. For small air conditioners (up to 2.7 kW power) and a short “path” (up to 5 meters), wait 8 to 10 minutes .
  6. At the end of “pumping out” the air, close the LEFT valve of the pressure gauge, and immediately after that turn off the pump . We look at the pressure gauge readings (the arrow should be at “-1”).
  7. Then disconnect the MIDDLE pressure gauge hose from the pump and connect it to the freon cylinder.
  8. We open the tap on the cylinder, turn it over and put it on the scale. So that the refrigerant is pumped in a liquid state.
  9. Open the RIGHT tap of the pressure gauge for a few seconds (about 3-5 seconds until liquid freon comes out). To squeeze air out of the pressure gauges so that it does not end up in the air conditioner.
  10. Finally, we move on to refrigerant injection. We find the required amount of freon on the air conditioner nameplate. We reset the scales. Then periodically open the LEFT tap of the pressure gauge and strictly control the amount of freon (entered into the air conditioner) using the scales. When the required weight of freon is filled, close the LEFT valve of the pressure gauge .
  11. Next, close the tap on the freon cylinder. We bleed the remaining freon from the pressure gauge by opening the RIGHT tap of the pressure gauge.
  12. Disconnect the LEFT pressure gauge hose from the air conditioner fitting. Attention. here you need to be SUPER careful and unscrew the hose VERY QUICKLY so as not to get burned by the freon (be sure to wear gloves). Even experienced specialists can suffer during this operation.

Pressure test

Before refilling the car air conditioner, you need to make sure that there are no leaks in the system and that it can withstand high pressure. This can be done at a service station by pumping pressure into the system. This is usually done with nitrogen. That is, nitrogen is “driven” into the system and the pressure is measured, then they wait about 20-30 minutes, and if the value on the pressure gauge does not change, then this means sufficient tightness. In this case, you can refuel the car air conditioner yourself or at a service station. Typically, the system check service is inexpensive - it costs about 300-400 rubles. But it is necessary to carry out such a check, because if freon has disappeared from the system, then you need to understand whether there is a leak, and whether it makes sense to “drive” expensive gas inside if it still evaporates in 3-4 days.

Step-by-step instructions for refilling the air conditioner

Watch the video of refilling the air conditioner on our website:

  • Close the three-way valve by turning it clockwise;
  • Connect the pressure manifold (low pressure outlet);
  • Open the valve;
  • Attach a container with refrigerant installed on the scale to the manifold;
  • Run the air conditioner to cold;
  • Open the manifold valve and add refrigerant in batches, constantly monitoring the weight;
  • As soon as the required volume is filled, turn off the tap.

The pressure in a fully charged system averages 15 kg per cubic centimeter. If the air conditioner has been fully charged, as in the video below, the system cannot be started immediately.

It takes time for the refrigerant to be evenly distributed along the route.

The procedure for refilling the air conditioner yourself

First of all, the entire set is assembled into a single system. The adapter is connected to a gas cylinder; this design also includes a tap. A pipeline is connected through the adapter, the other end of which is connected to the weather station. The assembly process can be considered complete, you can start refueling.

First, the temperature is measured - all equipment is calibrated to the station’s parameters. To do this, they look at the data from the calibrator - the station sensor, and use it to adjust the temperature level in accordance with the environment.

All assembled equipment is connected to the filling fitting located on the low pressure line in the air conditioner. Here you need to be careful and not confuse different fittings, because at high pressure there is also a similar outlet. The difference is that the low pressure line fitting has a wider diameter. Having selected the fitting, remove the protective cap and clean the surrounding surface.

The pipeline through which gas will flow from the station is connected to the fitting. The gas filling procedure starts with the engine running, which revs at 1.5 thousand per minute. After this, turn on the air conditioner to maximum, take a gas cylinder with an installed adapter, and tilt it to the bottom.

The tap is slowly unscrewed, and freon begins to flow into the air conditioning system. During the filling process, you need to monitor the pressure sensor. The indicator should not exceed 285 kiloPascals.

The supply ends when cooled air does not begin to flow from all air conditioner openings in the cabin.

The temperature in the car should reach 5-8 C, after which the supply valve is turned off. The accuracy and completeness of the filling is checked through the filter-drier window. If the liquid inside is clear, without bubbles, then all processes were successful.

Types of air conditioners

In order to consider in more detail the design of this equipment, you must first indicate what types of air conditioners exist and how they differ from each other.
There are several types of air conditioners. Let's take a closer look at each of them:

Central air conditioning – these include air conditioners that are used for industrial purposes. They are designed for a large working area, but such air conditioners do not operate from external sources, that is, from air from the street. For their operation, water from some sources or freon is used. Water can be used either cold or hot - this parameter depends on what set temperature is set. Precision air conditioners have found application in rooms where precision and absence of interruptions in the operation of the unit are required, that is, this type is more reliable. They are used in hospitals, laboratories, in rooms where a large number of different computer equipment is installed, and so on. Wine conditioners - this unit is designed to maintain specified climatic parameters in wine cellars

This is very important to ensure that the wine is properly aged and does not lose its taste and high quality. Typically, temperature parameters are set within +12 degrees Celsius, while humidity should be in the range from 60 to 70%. Autonomous air conditioning systems are widely used and are powered by electricity.

They can both cool the air to a given parameter and heat it up.

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