Air Conditioning Maintenance

I have a 2001 Honda Civic.

I was in for my oil change and the repair guy said I am due for Air Conditioning Maintenance, that it’s “low”. I told him I’d think about it. I went home and looked in the manual, and there is no mention of a need to do this, the only thing related to the A/C is the cabin air filter, which I do have replaced occasionally.

Is it necessary to have maintenance on the A/C system? Cost is $130. I’d rather pay this than have to pay more down the road for failure to do preventative upkeep, but are they ripping me off??

You are correct that there is no periodic maintenance on a car A/C system, other than replacement of the cabin air filter. However, if your mechanic said that the system is “low”, that means that some of the refrigerant has leaked out of what is supposed to be a closed system. Because of the pressurization of the A/C system, a small leak will lead to a total loss of the refrigerant.

Was this a REAL mechanic, as opposed to someone at Jiffy Lube or another place of that type? If he was a real mechanic, then this is something that you should take seriously as it will soon lead to no cooling effect from your A/C, and could actually lead to more extensive repairs once the refrigerant is totally depleted.

I would suggest taking the car to an automotive A/C specialist shop for an evaluation. They have the equipment necessary to find any leaks–no matter how small–to fix those leaks, and to properly recharge the system.

So–if this mechanic is both honest and competent, he is informing you of a repair that is needed, rather than maintenance.

If what they mean is that the refrigerant pressure is low, that could very well be. But if that’s the case, it should just take a few ounces of adding refrigerant to bring the refrigerant pressure to the proper level. And I can’t see how that would cost $130.00. Find another AC shop, and ask how much it would cost to top off the AC system. If it even needs it.


You did the right thing in refusing this so-called “service.” If your air conditioning is working fine, he was just trying to pad the bill.

Dealerships and other shops will often try to sell you services that are not needed. These can include “fuel induction” (a type of fuel injector cleaning system), an automatic transmission flush (as opposed to the drain and refill mentioned in the owner’s manual), nitrogen in the tires, 3,000 mile oil changes, engine flushes, etc. If they aren’t listed in the owner’s manual maintenance schedule, don’t let them talk you into them.

I think we have a confusion with terminology here. The mechanic used the term maintiance rather loosely,you took it to mean some type of perodic service issue and he probably ment it to mean checking things like system pressures,outlet temperatures,fan operation,mode door operation,belt and compressor condition.

Before you agree to the “service” ask why he is calling this work “maintiance”

Lets not start this issue back up but ask your mechanic what he thinks of periodic drier/reciever replacement,espically on cars with low or lost refridgerant charges.