How To Check and Refill Refrigerant

In the hot days of summer, you want to be sure your car's air conditioner is running correctly. Learn how to maintain your car's cooling system by following this guide on how to check and refill refrigerant.

Step 1

Realize the danger with this type of maintenance. This type of auto maintenance isn't for beginners. There are several situations during this repair during which severe injuries can and have taken place. For example, the can of refrigerant, if improperly attached, will explode in your face. You must know the in and out lines on the AC system as well, to prevent injury and properly check and refill your refrigerant.

Step 2

Proceed to check the level of refrigerant in your car. If you feel you are still capable of completing this job, then proceed to locate the high pressure line. It should be clearly marked, as it is on most vehicles. Now attach the line with the gauge to this high pressure line, and read whether or not the system is running low on refrigerant. You should be able to tell this by the pressure in the line. If the gauge reads green, you don't need to refill the refrigerant. But if the gauge is in the red zone, there's not enough coolant in your system and it needs to be refilled. (Warning: if your gauge is reading that pressure is too high, have a mechanic look at the problem to avoid any explosions).

Step 3

Refill the refrigerant only when necessary.  Once you have determined that it is necessary to refill the refrigerant in your car, purchase a can or two of refrigerant. Read the directions on the side of the can and then follow these to properly attach the can to the line. With the can in place, release the refrigerant. (This is usually done by screwing down the pin on the top of the refrigerant can, but there are several different can designs and release valves).

Now you need to turn your car's air conditioner to high. Then quickly unscrew the valve on the can of refrigerant. This will immediately release the refrigerant into your car's air conditioner lines. You should hold the can upside down to assist the liquid in flowing out of the can and into your vehicle's AC system. Beware that the can will become very cold during this process (even forming ice), so it may be necessary to wear gloves. You should be able to feel the can becoming lighter as the refrigerant refills into your air conditioner, and once you think it is empty, shake the can just to be sure. Discard the can.

Check the gauge once again. If it is still reading low, it may be necessary to pour yet another can of refrigerant into your system. Continue to look at the gauge throughout this process. Your car's refrigerant levels will be back to recommended levels when they reach the normal range (or slightly higher) on the gauge.

Don't overfill your air conditioner in order to empty the can. Instead, leave the refrigerant in the can for the next time you may need to check and refill your refrigerant.


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