Carter Volkswagen Auto Care FAQs: Can I Recharge My Car's AC System Myself?
A new line of products have exploded in popularity which claim to allow you to recharge your vehicle's underperforming A/C system on your own. It sounds fast, inexpensive and convenient! But how well do they really work?
These products can safely add more refrigerant to your vehicle's A/C system, it's true. And that might be enough to get your A/C blowing cold once again for a short time. But that's not going to be enough to get your A/C system working properly in many cases. In fact, we've identified a few problems with these at home A/C recharge kits, and why you shouldn't use them. We'll illustrate below why we think a full-blown, professional A/C recharge is usually the better solution.
A/C Recharge Kit Problems: Leak Sealer
In addition to the refrigerant inside the canister, at-home A/C recharge kits have a leak sealing compound that is supposed to stop leaks in the system. While it sounds like a good idea, the long-term results aren't always ideal. The leak sealing compound may not stop all the leaks, and what's worse, the excess compound can gum up the A/C system and make it perform even worse!
Since your A/C system isn't blowing cold enough, you know that you need more refrigerant in the system -- and that's only caused by leaks in the system. It's a better idea to have the system professionally evaluated and serviced to replace or repair leaking components. A DIY leak sealer just isn't sophisticated enough to do the job right.
A/C Recharge Kit Problems: Pressure Vs. Weight
Today's popular A/C recharge kits feature a pressure gauge that helps you put the correct amount of refrigerant in the system -- but the problem with this is that refrigerant is measured by weight, not pressure. For example, if your car requires two pounds of refrigerant in the A/C system, the way to properly refill the system is to evacuate all the gasses remaining in the system and add exactly two pounds of refrigerant by weight.
Using pressure to approximate how much refrigerant needs to be added to the system can cause significant problems. Overcharging the system can cause damage, and will require the excess refrigerant to be evacuated from the system and reclaimed by special machines only found at professional service centers.
A/C Recharge Kit Problems: Incompatible with Hybrids
Driving around in a hybrid or electric car, like a Volkswagen eGolf? You definitely should not use at home A/C recharging kits! Hybrid and electric cars use a different A/C compressor design which requires a different kind of compressor oil than what's found inside the DIY A/C recharge canisters. As with many things involving EVs and hybrids, it's often best to have the A/C system on these vehicles serviced by dealership professionals.