DIY AC refill


So while at Walmart in the early morning hours today looking for jumper cables, I saw an end-cap with R134a canisters for $6.88 apiece. That same 97 Escort needs refrigerant too, and am wondering if this would be a good option for DIY, or if I would have to take it to a shop and have a certified person put it in…Most newer cars (1990+) use R134a correct?

Summer in Texas with no AC is the pits!


The problem with these kits is that they just show the low side pressure. And if anyone has been in the refrigeration industry knows that the high side pressure is the most important pressure. So sure! You can use one of these kits. But if you damage any part of the AC system from over-charging, who you gonna blame? To do it properly you need a set of manifold gauges for AC.



First, fix the leak or all the new 134 will leak out just like the 134 that’s supposed to be there did.



Leaks…That’s another question brought to mind…
When you charge an AC system, how long is the refrigerant supposed to last?


When you charge an AC system, how long is the refrigerant supposed to last?

Until it leaks. The A/C does not use coolant. If it is low it is because it has a leak.


That’s what I thought. Guess someone is going to have to deal with it for a little bit longer.


I agree with the others and I’m not a real fan of those charging kits because they leave a lot of loose ends.

If the system is half working by getting at least partially cool then one of these can be used with some success.
If the system is empty or near-empty and blowing hot air there’s a leak and at 12 years old, it’s due.
(Most leaks are traced back to compressor shaft seals)

Another problem is that if the system is empty this means the refrigerant has been replaced by air, and moisture. This will mean at the least a thorough evacuation (pulling a vacuum with a vacuum pump).

I’m in OK and understand the summer thing completely. Pretty nice when it’s a balmy 101 with 80% humidity!


The EPA does have a spec in regards to acceptable refridgerant loss rate. I cant remember the rate but it was really,really low


Many A/C systems have very small leaks. My old Caprice needed a $50 top up once a year, done by a good shop. They told me to fix all possible leaks would not be cost-effective on an old car. So small leaks are “fixed” by just topping up.

Agree that in Texas, if I had to chose between wheels and A/C on a car, I’d take A/C!


As an avid DIY myself, I must often re-think some jobs. Although I could do it myself…should I ?? With all the un-answered questions remaining I’d take A/C to a shop. With all systems working properly a car might NEVER need freon.


I have very little patience with leaky AC systems, I believe my (R-12) systems are very leak tight at the moment, Eventually the hoses do start to seep a little and do need to be replaced. I just had a hose replaced on one of mine because it was starting to show a little dye, it wasn’t as cold as it should have been after three years due to a slow leak. There’s no such thing as a $50 top-off with R-12 systems.