A/C charge kits from local auto store

I am sure this question pops up a lot but I can’t find any threads on it.

My wife drives a nissan sentra (04) and the A/C certainly hasn’t been as cold as it could be. when I took it for an oil change at the local Jiffy, they wanted to charge $90 for the A/C recahrge. They said it should be around 90 psi and that is was showing up at around 30 or so.

My question is if I get one of those kits from the local auto store with the included presure gauges, can I do this myself? I understand that I don’t want to overcharge it, so this is my main concern. I am pretty good with cars, but this is one thing I haven’t done yet myself.

Also, are their recommendations as to what kit to use?


You can’t accurately charge your AC by looking at the suction side pressure only. You have to look at the high side at the same time. Don’t use the DIY can if you want your AC to work long and well. Anyway, refrigerant is not consumed. You have a leak that needs to be fixed.

Don’t use Iffy Lube for AC work (or oil changes, or anything else). Their story does not add up. 90 PSI would be too high for the low side, and too low for the high side.

You need to find a good AC shop.

In the long run you’re better off doing a couple of things. One is to avoid quickie oil change chain places at all costs. They aren’t staffed by mechanics, frequently screw things up, and always try to up sell. Your best bet is to find a reputable, local mechanic to do all of your stuff.

The second thing that will pay off in the long run is to just take the car to a local shop that specializes in AC repairs. If you need refrigerant, then you almost certainly have a leak. The AC system is closed. So whatever $$ you spend on refrigerant is likely to just go flying right back out of the lines. A trained pro should evaluate the system, find the leak, and then properly recharge it. AC systems are just not good DIY items.

That said, lots of people use those recharge cans to good effect and without incident. So if you decide to do it make sure that you do it with the pressure gauge & follow the instructions. Your biggest problem here is that you will have only a low pressure side gauge - the high pressure side should also be checked & monitored, but the set of gauges for that tend to be very expensive. Just keep in mind that if you really want the AC to keep working and to work well, then you can just add what you spend at the auto parts store onto whatever you’d be spending at an AC shop anyway.

Awesome. Thanks for the help. I definitely take everything those guys at quikie oil shops with a grain of salt. I only go there when they are trying to get business and are charging 20.00 for an oil change. Not worth my time to do it myself if it costs pretty much the same as the parts.

I have a guy, a good mechanic. should I take it to him? or should I find a special a/c shop.

Thanks for the advice. good to know about it being a closed system. the a/c works so-so now, but we drove a rental last week on our honeymoon that is the exact same car. we got a taste of how good our A/C could be…

If your mechanic is a certified air conditioning technician, or he has a certified air conditioning technician on staff, take it to him. Otherwise, take to either a specialized A/C shop or a shop that has a certified air conditioning technician.

Congratulations on your recent nuptials!