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How much does it cost to recharge a car AC

You all know that the car air conditioner or AC unquestionably plays an important role in helping you enjoy your driving experiences. You may not need to turn your car AC on when it’s cool but just imagine how severe and stifling it would be when our car AC were out of order under the boiling sun in summer. However, not all of you know that your car air conditioner needs refilling at certain points. Therefore, we have decided to create this writing about recharging a car AC titled “How much does it cost to recharge a car AC?” as the price usually dominates top questions concerning anything available for purchasing. And of course, as usual we will also provide you with some other useful pieces of information, in this case, about recharging an AC of a car.

What does recharging a car AC mean?

Before knowing how much recharging a car AC costs, we think that we should know exactly what we are paying for. That’s why we have this part in this article.

Recharging a car AC is a process of refilling the air conditioning system with refrigerant so that it can perform properly once activated. This refrigerant is in charge of taking the moisture from the air inside your car and then releasing it into the outer environment to keep your car’s atmosphere cool. The supply of the R134a substance, which is the codename for the refrigerant used in the air conditioning system, is not infinite and runs out over time through evaporation or leaked system. That’s why sometimes you find that it’s hot in your moving box even why the air conditioner is still running.

What happens if you don’t recharge a car AC?

The first and most conspicuous consequence that you get out of not refilling a car air conditioner is you will suffer from smells and heat when driving your car. As we have said earlier, without the refrigerant the air inside your car can’t be cooled down and your car will turn into a suffocating metal box. You may claim that you can let the windows down and the problem is solved but actually it’s just a temporary measure and the followed consequences are not favorable. Letting your windows down too often could fill your interior with dust from the environment and as a result you will have to spend some time cleaning it. However, that’s not everything. In traffic-crowded places like cities, opening your car windows frequently may worsen your health as you are exposed to harmful substances residing in the air. It may be a little dramatic but it’s possible.

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Another consequence that is a long term one that some car owners fail to see is that leaving a car AC in a nonworking state for a long time can lead to wasting an enormous amount of money on repair. The car air conditioning system is designed to automatically shut down when the refrigerant or pressure in the lines is short in amount. This function is added to the air conditioning system to eliminate additional damages happening to your car. However, if the shutting down condition is maintained for too long, the compressor will seize as it has not been used for a long period of time. And as a result not only do you have to pay for recharging your car AC but you also have to spend money on having your car compressor fixed. It’s obvious that the answer to the question “how much does it cost to recharge a car AC?” is not the only main one stuck in your head but you also have to seek for “how much does it cost to fix a car compressor?”

What are the symptoms of a car AC needing recharging?

Now we will walk you through common symptoms that a car AC shows when it needs recharging. There are two common symptoms:

The first one is when the air conditioning vents do not breathe out the cool air. You may notice that we have somewhere implied this one above. It’s easy to notice this symptom. When you turn the air conditioner on and you still feel the hot air residing in your car after a while, just put your hands under the vents. If you do not feel the cool air flow, it’s likely that your air conditioning has run out of the refrigerant.

The second one is when you turn the defrost mode on but the frog doesn’t haze the windshield. This symptom is a little bit harder to be noticed than the first because you have to switch the climate control first.

How much does it cost to recharge a car AC?

Now it’s time to dig deep and find out the cost of recharging a car AC. There are two factors paying tribute to the cost of refilling a car AC. The cost of refilling is one factor and the cost of the leak test is the other one. Some of you may wonder why you have to pay extra money for a leak test. The answer is simple. If you just recharge a car air conditioner without having someone do a leak test, the refrigerant will leak through the unbridged gaps and it will run out quickly. As a result, you may end up taking your car to the mechanic to have him or her do the recharging task again and wasting an unwanted amount of money on refilling. So always remember to take the leak test so that recharging a car AC will take its full effect.

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On average, to recharge a car AC you will have to pay from $150 and $300 including $50 to $150 for the refilling cost and $100 to $150 for the leak test. The cost ranges because each engine of different type and year model requires different amounts of refrigerant and different needed time to check the leak. After the test, if a leak or fault is detected, then you have to pay for the repairs to make sure that the refrigerant will last for a long period of time.

We know that this part is about figuring out the answer to the question “how much does it cost to recharge a car AC?” but we would like to add the cost of some common repairs related to the refilling thing just in case you may be interested in.

Type of replacement Cost range
Condenser replacement $200 – $500
Condenser fan replacement $100 – $300
Expansion valve replacement $100 – $250
Air conditioner O-rings replacement $20 – $100
Air conditioner pipes replacement $50 – $200
Air conditioner pressure switch replacement $50 – $100


What should you keep in mind when it comes to a car AC recharge?

Before you decide to do the recharging task, there are some things that we think that you should keep in mind as they are pretty important to recharging a car AC perfectly

The first one is always taking the vacuum test and the leak test to make sure that the refilling stuff does not go to waste quickly as the R134a substance leaks through the cracks.

The second one is having a look at the air conditioner compressor clutch and the air conditioner pressure sensors before doing something with the air conditioning system. We mention this one because you could make the air conditioning system work for a while by taking out some shims inside it. It will be extremely useful if you haven’t had time to recharge the air conditioner yet.

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And the last thing is choosing the pressure test rather than the vacuum test if possible as the vacuum test can bridge the gap while it’s being processed.

Author’s view

That’s the end of our article. We hope that even if you are not a person who considers seeking the answer to “how much does it cost to recharge a car AC?” is the top priority when it comes to doing research on refilling a car air conditioner, you also find this writing interesting and useful. In final words, we would like to repeat one more time that you should always take the leak test before refilling a car air conditioner with the refrigerant for your own good.


Can you recharge your car AC yourself?

Yes, you can. However there is one condition. You can only refill your car air conditioner yourself if your car uses the R134a refrigerant. If your car does, prepare some R124a refrigerant and a charging kit then roll up your sleeves.

How often do you need to recharge a car AC?

There is no specific answer to this question. According to experts, you need to recharge a car AC after 6-8 years of use as long as at the starting point your car AC has been fully refilled and it doesn’t have any leaks or gaps.

How long does it take to recharge a car AC?

If there is nothing wrong with your air conditioning system then it will take you about 45 minutes to recharge a car AC. This amount of time includes the time needed to remove the old gas and the time needed to refill your AC with new refrigerant. But if there is something wrong with your car air conditioning system such as there are leaks or the condenser is broken down, the amount of time to fulfill the recharging task will increase.

How long does it take for a car AC to get cold again after being recharged?

On average, the needed amount of time for your car AC to blow cool air again after being refilled is 15 minutes. So you can wait somewhere outside your car or let your windows down if you’re driving while your car air conditioner recovers.

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