Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Signs Your AC Needs to Be Recharged

AC Recharge

Virtually all modern AC systems operate by using a compressor to pressurize and circulate refrigerant and oil through the system to produce cold air. AC systems operate using two different sides, the high side and the low side. The refrigerant starts out as a gas in the low pressure side of the system, and is converted into a liquid in the high side. The constant circulation of refrigerant through the high and low pressure sides of the system is what keeps the vehicle cool.

Because AC systems are pressurized, they must be completely sealed to function properly. Over time, these pressurized systems can eventually develop leaks. Once any sort of leak has begun, they will eventually cause enough refrigerant to leak out to the point where the AC will no longer be able to produce cold air. Once the refrigerant and pressure level of an AC system drop too low, it must be recharged with pressurized refrigerant before it will function properly. Usually an AC system will begin to display a few symptoms when it needs to be recharged.

1. Loss in cooling capability

The most obvious symptom that a vehicle needs to be recharged is that there will be a noticeable loss in the overall cooling capability of the AC system. The AC system operates by circulating pressurized refrigerant, so if the amount drops too low it will eventually begin to affect the operation of the system. You may notice that the air is not blowing as cold as it was before or is not blowing cold air at all.

2. AC clutch fails to engage

With the AC control is set to maximum coldness, you should be able to hear the familiar clicking sound of your AC clutch engaging. The clutch engages with a signal from the AC pressure switch, which reads the pressure level of the system. When the level drops too low, the pressure switch will not activate, and therefore the clutch will not engage. Without the AC clutch engaged, the system will not be able to circulate even the low amount of refrigerant it may have and the system will not work at all.

3. Visible signs of refrigerant leaks

A more serious sign that the car needs an AC recharge is that there will be visible signs of refrigerant leakage. If you spot any signs of a greasy film on any of the AC components or fittings, or any pools of refrigerant underneath the vehicle, then this is a sign that a leak has developed and refrigerant is being lost. The refrigerant will continue to leak until the system no longer functions.

Because the need for a recharge indicates a loss of refrigerant, there is likely a leak somewhere in the system that may need to be addressed before having this service. For this reason, if you suspect your system may need a recharge, first have the AC system inspected to ensure that the AC recharge addresses the problem properly.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222 code means The manufacturer specifies a range of acceptable voltage to be produced from the throttle position...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...


Related questions

Q: I can't figure out why there's a leak coming out of the coolant reservoir tank

Hi there. Check the radiator cap to see if it is sealing. Put a pressure tester on the radiator cap and pump it up till the pressure spits out, then let it sit. If the pressure drops down, then the...

Q: Leak in air conditioning hose

Hello. There are multiple hoses in the A/C system. First, a determination needs to be made as to which A/C hose is leaking. This can be done by introducing dye to the A/C system and watching to see which hose...

Q: Over Heating

I would test for exhaust gas in the coolant which, if present, would mean that there is a head gas leak. If the coolant level is falling slowly over time, that suggests a leak as well and a pressure test...