How to Recharge Your Car A/C in 15 Minutes

recharge car A/C

How to charge your car’s air conditioning in 15 minutes and beat that summer heat.

In many parts of the country, snow is still falling. However, here in Florida things are heating up quick. Though I generally enjoy window-down ventilation, when it’s 95+ degrees outside (and equal humidity!) getting stuck in traffic can leave you wishing for more modern conveniences. Before things get too hot in your neck of the woods, now is the time to check your air conditioning pressure and top it up as need be. In this first of a series of posts, I’ll help you get your car in shape for summer.


Step 1

 Open Galleryrecharge car A/CFirst, purchase a charge kit for your car. Consult your local auto parts store for the appropriate type of refrigerant. The common off-the-shelf refrigerant is R-134 which became mandatory in the 1995 model year as R-12 was phased out due to its ozone depleting characteristics. If you have a vehicle made between 1992-1995, you may have either R-12 or R-134. If your vehicle does have R-12, it has to be converted to use R-134 which is a job best left to an A/C mechanic to handle. In my case, my 1996 truck took R-134 and I needed two cans for the size of the system. For a few bucks more, get a kit with the UV dye as it will greatly assist in tracking down minor leaks.

Step 2

 Open Galleryrecharge car A/CNext, find the low side port of your A/C system. This will be the barb on the larger tube between the compressor (mounted to the engine and with a belt) and the evaporator (a large aluminum can). If in doubt, consult your service manual or local parts store.

Step 3

 Open Galleryrecharge car A/CScrew the dispenser hose and gauge onto the can of refrigerant. Attach to the low side port by pulling back the outer slip ring, pushing it on, and releasing the ring. Next, start the engine, turn the A/C system on max, and check the gauge reading. The compressor clutch should be engaged and the front of the compressor spinning. If the pressure is lower than 20 psi and the compressor is not engaged, then dispense refrigerant until the clutch engages. Be sure to shake the can first and every 3-4 seconds later.

Step 4

 Open Galleryrecharge car A/CConsult the pressure chart in the refrigerant instructions for the proper system pressure. Continue dispensing refrigerant and rechecking the pressure until the desired level is reached. In my case, with an ambient temperature of 85 degrees, the instructions called for 45-55 psi. Be sure not to over pressurize the system. If you feel like the can is empty, flip it over to dispense the remaining oil before removing.

Step 5

 Open Galleryrecharge car A/C

If you bought a UV kit, check the system for minor leaks so repairs can be made if necessary. Use the UV pen and examine all valves and junction points in the system. In my case, I found a small spot where the front A/C feeds refrigerant to the rear A/C under the car.


  • Car A/C Charge Kit With Proper Refrigerant for Your Vehicle
  • UV Kit (optional)


  • PSI Pressure Gauge
About Dylan Eastman 


At a young age, I learned how things worked by taking them apart and (successfully) putting them back together. I've always approached life as an opportunity to learn new skills, ...

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25 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    Just use Artic Freeze to charge '99 Trooper. Followed instructions, all seemed fine – resulting pressure was 35psi after can emptied. Ran car for a few miles, then checked pressure (low side with the provided gauge) and was 35psi, except when condensor cycles off when it jumps way into the red (70+ PSI).

    Stopped vehicle, let it set for 3-4 hours. Static pressure around 110 on the low-side, ambient air around 95 but under hook very likely 110+. Start engine, PSI drops to 35 almost immediately, run for around 10 minutes, then starts cycling between that and very high.

    Cannot find clues as to what I have done wrong, if anything. This behavior seems wrong – but where do I start? Is it over-charger? If so how, I followed the instruction, took about 15 minutes running it into the system (after a 3-5 minutes warm up) – and the whole time it went from 15-35psi steadily, and then sat at 35psi.

    Any thoughts gratefully received …

  2. Frank T says:

    Went to recharge my 2000 jeep GC it has been blowing warm air when I hold the hose and gage to fill with R134 I noticed pressure was in the red like 120 psi definitely was on the low side also compressor would not kick on ?????!

  3. Sue Rhoads says:

    After about 1/2 hour of driving my a/c begins to blow out what looks like smoke, but it is cold. From then on it just gets warmer and warmer. Someone once told me that the core was frozen. What can I do about this?

  4. merlene says:

    I hv a 2008 armada I put 2 then 3 cans of refrigent the gauge says it still needs more is this possible

  5. Marry Lauren says:

    It is really a great tips which is helpful for us to recharge the ac car. keep updating such type of post.Bob Sell Automotive Repairs

  6. Michael C. Olsen says:


  7. Harry says:

    When I plug in the pressure gage it jumps up to 65psi ???

  8. patcarrookie says:

    Hello, have a 2005 Toyota corolla and tries to recharge my a/c. Friend of mine showed me once. I did the right thing by following the instructions you have: connect the Low port, turn engine, turn to max… it takes forever 40 mns more now… The gauge shows 0 but if I turned Off the A/C the gauge indicator jumps to the green 50psi… turn on A/C again gauge gradually drops to 0… What happen? any tip? thanks

  9. Jason says:

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    The experts, who have many years of experience in this field,
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  10. Erwin says:

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    There are tools which automate this time consuming process.Visitors can flood your website in no time,
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  11. Before you begin recharging your vehicles aeration and cooling system framework, you need to verify which refrigerant your auto employments. A few autos utilize the more current R134. Different vehicles may in any case utilize the R12 refrigerant. In the event that your vehicle was produced in the late 1990's then there is a decent risk your vehicle takes the R134 refrigerant.

  12. Jhon says:

    This is a great post foe those who want to buy a good car.

  13. michaelcmack says:

    This is a great post foe those who want to buy a good car.

  14. michelfedrick says:

    Recharging your air conditioner yourself is inexpensive and you can do that within no time. But if you didn't practice it in a correct way it may have possible problems in air conditioning system. Hence you need to be really careful while doing this and after you finish your air conditioner should make icy cold breeze. The whole operation should only fix you back around 23- 42 bucks and take only 15 minutes of your time.

  15. Nicole says:

    Thanks for this helpfull post. I have faced this type of problem many times with my car's AC , Buut now I can fix myself.

  16. faris says:

    what should I do if the ambient temp. is over that 110 F ( 43 c) .we are here in Iraq enjoying with more than (50 c) the question is how much psi should i use in my car ac system ?
    Thanks in advance

  17. HVAC Systems says:

    Hello my friend, before you recharge AC you need to remove air from the system with a vacuum pump, because humidity in the air can freeze inside ducts and damage them. Be careful.

    • Only if there is no pressure in the system. Again this how to is for low pressure situations. If the line set has been opened or totally flat for years then yes you should seek a qualified technician to recover/vac the system, fix the leak, and recharge.

  18. There's only a lot that the straightforward refilling, re-charging, and lubricating product or service can do. If there's bodily harm (for instance a seized compressor or even a severe drip), you might need more aid compared to a/C Master can supply.

  19. AC Plano says:

    Now you give me tips on how to recharge air conditioning in cars just for 15 minutes.

  20. mrmoogy says:

    Dylan, thanks for the reminder on auto AC. Mine took two cans, of coarse it's been a while since it was needed. We got caught in Kissimmee like 4-5 summers ago (going to a theme park) with warm air in the car and 100 degree temps outside. I stopped at the auto parts store and picked up a hose and can of R-134 plus a 12v fan to clip on the change tray. Oh man what a difference!

    This year it took the two cans and we found one tiny leak which took a couple of minutes and a wrench. I should mention though, since the car was built for the 1998 model year, I'm leaning toward an O-ring update just for good measure.

    Still miss my 1964 Dodge! The only time the air leaked moisture was if you rolled the window down in the rain.

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