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What is involved with a AC check up

I have a 2011 CTS AWD Caddy with a little over 80,000 miles on it. One of the items in the owners manual that I am looking at getting done this winter is having the AC check up done. In addition as the summer wrapped up I began noticing that my AC was having some issues keeping the car cool. I have never had an AC job done on any car I have owned. My question is basically is this something any reliable car place can do? What is a fair price for an AC check up and exactly what is done when you have this work done.

An AC checkup would/should involve testing system pressure and performance in all functions. If a problem is found the shop should call with an estimate for the repair. Prices vary widely from coast to coast and city to city.

They will:

  • measure the air temp out of multiple vents
  • check the PSI on low pressure and high pressure side
  • Check for compressor clutch engagement and pulley
  • Recommend repairs if necessary

The places around here charge around $100 for the check and include 1-2 lbs refrigerant if needed. All systems will slowly lose refrigerant over the years.

What’s involved?

What I do is, get in the car, start the engine, set the AC on high, and sit there for five minutes, and if I get nipples, the AC is working.


If it’s the compressor still runs when you have the AC on, there is still some refrigerant left in the system. They will (should) check high and low pressures, switches, temperature from vents. And check for leaks. A sealed system should not loose pressure. But it isn’t uncommon to loose pressure over an extended period of time. In my opinion, it should not have lost pressure on a 2011 yet. There may be a small leak. If there is a leak, repairs would range from $300 to $1000. If you want air conditioning, you are better off fixing it sooner than later. Once you loose the rest of the pressure, the whole system can get contaminated with air. Then it will be much more expensive to repair. I would not bring it to a shop that does not have AC equipment. Many shops that have the equipment still do not properly evacuate and refill refrigerant properly. Best to ask shop how they evacuate refrigerant. They should tell you that they keep the system under a vacuum at least 30 minutes Before rechargingy .any shop that actually does that usually knows enough to do a Good job

I generally agree with the comments above

It’s not sufficient to say “If the system blows cold air and the outside temperatures are very moderate, the system must be in fine shape”

Not so, even a system with 1/2 charge or less will be able to blow cold air on a winter day

But it will fall flat on its face on a summer day when the outside temperatures are 110 degrees

In my opinion, the only real way to determine if the system’s got a correct charge is to recover, followed by a proper evacuation and recharge . . . anything else is speculation, maybe pretty good speculation, but no more than that

considering op said the car was having issues cooling the interior during the summer, makes me think that we’re no longer dealing with a full charge

As part of that recover, evacuate and recharge, the shop should also add some uv dye. There might be a slow leak. And the uv dye will make it much easier to spot in the future

Anyone who actually services AC systems knows, the only time the refrigerant is reclaimed, the system is evacuated, and the system is recharged is, when the system is opened up to the atmosphere to perform some kind of repair to the system.