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Recharging the car's air conditioning: cost? when to do it?


How does car air conditioning work?

Car air conditioning is generated by the air conditioning system, now a standard accessory in all modern production cars.

The car air conditioning system consists of a tank containing the refrigerant gas, a compressor connected directly to the motorcycle and a circuit of tubes that allows the air to circulate from the outside to the passenger compartment.

The basic principle of car air conditioning is very simple: warm air is drawn in from outside, transfers heat and humidity to the refrigerant gas and is then redirected to the passenger compartment. Similar to the air conditioners installed in your home, there are two types of car air conditioners: manual or automatic.


In manual air conditioners, the driver sets and manages the airflow and temperature to his or her preference. There are usually three knobs: one that can be moved from blue, cool, to red, hot, one that manages the various vents scattered throughout the passenger compartment, and one that manages the power of the air conditioner flow.

With automatic air conditioners, it is the air conditioner itself that manages and maintains the optimum temperature in the passenger compartment via thermostats inside the car.

What is car air conditioning recharging?

Air conditioning recharging is the procedure during which the mechanic restores the normal amount of refrigerant gas inside the car's tank.

The inside of the refrigerant gas circuit is airtight and therefore should never leak in such a way as to force a recharge. However, it is enough for one of the pipes or fittings to come loose to cause a loss of refrigerant.


During the car air conditioner recharge procedure, every good mechanic should check for leaks or damaged pipes to avoid doing a totally useless job. If there are leaks, the recharge will be wasted and will have to be recharged in a few months.

When should the car air conditioner be recharged?

As explained above, the refrigerant gas circuit is designed to be airtight. Under ideal conditions, you should never need to recharge your car air conditioner.

However, after years of use and wear, it happens that one of the pipes or fittings in the refrigerant gas circuit becomes loose or damaged, making it necessary to recharge the car's air conditioning. Normally this does not happen before 3-4 years of use of the car, but the exact moment depends on the use you make of the car.

A car that drives on a lot of rough roads, an off-road vehicle for example, puts all the components under more stress, making it necessary to recharge the car's air conditioning after a few years. A car that is only used for driving on paved roads may never need it.

Therefore, since it is impossible to indicate when the car air conditioner needs to be recharged, we can indicate what are the symptoms that indicate problems with the car air conditioner. These are:

  • Thetotal lack orshortage of cold air coming out of the passenger compartment vents.
  • In the case of automatic car air conditioners, it is impossible toreach the desired temperature.

If one of these symptoms is present in your car, we recommend that you go to the garage and ask for a complete overhaul of the car's air conditioning. Your mechanic will be able to tell you if you just need to recharge the air conditioning or if you need to repair any leaks.


How much does it cost to recharge the air conditioning?

The cost of recharging your car's air conditioning is usually around 80 - 100 euros. This figure includes labour costs and the cost of gas or refrigerant.


Of course, if necessary, your mechanic may also recommend the replacement of other parts related to your car's air conditioning. One of the typical parts that is replaced during an air conditioning service is the pollen filter. In some cases, problems with the air conditioning compressor may also be due to problems with the service belt.

How to use the air conditioner charging kit

There are several car air conditioning charging kits on the market that, in theory, allow you to charge from your garage. Unfortunately, as explained above, air conditioning recharging is almost always necessary in the presence of a leak that no kit can repair.

Our advice is to avoid spending money on a kit in order to save on the cost of charging your car's air conditioning. The leak will remain unresolved and you will be forced to go to the workshop after a few months and you will be wasting any savings.

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