Checking Freon levels is something most of us worry about. Contrary to popular belief, it is nothing complicated. As a matter of fact, it is an activity you can carry out on your own with just a few tools and tricks needed. This lifesaver of an article will save you a trip to the mechanic with easy-to-follow steps and guidelines on how to check Freon levels in your car’s AC. It goes on to answer frequently asked questions relating to this activity.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. All you need to know about Freon
- 2 Signs that your car needs Freon
- 3 2. How to Check Freon Level in Car?
- 4 Tools required
- 5 Step-by-step guide:
- 6 Frequently Asked Question About Freon Level
- 7 Is it safe to check my car’s Freon level on my own?
- 8 Should I recharge my car’s AC myself?
- 9 What are the dangers of refilling your air conditioner yourself?
- 10 Final thoughts
1. All you need to know about Freon
Freon is the chemical refrigerant used to circulate cold air through the vehicle’s cabin. It is a colorless and non-flammable gas, but it can affect your eyes and skin if mishandled.
Freon works as a coolant by being interchanged from a gaseous to a liquid state and vice versa. The above process takes place in the compressor. The Freon starts as a gas in the low-pressure side of the AC. When it reaches the high side, it is exposed to high pressure, converting it to liquid. In the evaporation process, the fans in the AC pass the air from outside over the Freon. The liquidized Freon cools the air, which is later on passed to the cabin by other components of the AC.
When the Freon levels in your AC are low, the system malfunctions, then all the air passing through the AC will not be cooled down, and hence only warm air will blow through the cabin. Low Freon level is also among common causes of many trouble codes, such as P0531, that can be detected by an OBD-II diagnostic scanner. It is, therefore, a vital part of the AC system that needs to be checked and added every time there is a defect.
Signs that your car needs Freon
Several signs could indicate whether your car needs Freon. You will encounter either one or a combination of some of them. Below are the signs you should watch out for.
- The AC is not as cold as it used to be. This is the first and most obvious phenomenon you will encounter. A properly functioning AC will blow cool air because the liquefied Freon cools it. Consequently, blowing warmer air is a sign of low Freon levels.
- The AC isn’t cold at all and is just air. Sometimes the AC does not blow the cool air at all. When the air is not cool and is hot, as if there is no AC, you should check your Freon levels.
- Clutch doesn’t engage. When the AC is rightfully functional, and it is turned on, you will hear the click of the clutch as it engages. The clutch s responsible for reading the Freon levels and relaying the information to the compressor, which pressurizes the Freon. If it fails to engage, then the Freon levels are low.
- Visible leaks. This is another sign that is easy to identify. Leaked Freon appears as a thin grease-like fluid. It is normally around the compressor or inside the cabin. If you meet this occurrence, wipe it out and check later. If you find the thin grease layer, then there is a leak.
- Visible ice on the AC compressor. When the Freon levels are low, moisture takes its place. As a result, the moisture turns to ice and settles on the compressor.
2. How to Check Freon Level in Car?
Checking for Freon levels is a simple process that you can do yourself. Below is a proper guide on how to go about it.
These are the tools you will need to check the Freon levels in the car. Each one of them plays an integral role in this process.
- AC Gauges
- Safety Goggles
These are the steps you should follow. Before beginning any process, countercheck to confirm whether you have all the necessary tools are nearby. Also, ensure you have the safety goggles on at all times.
Step 1: Quick inspection
Take a quick inspection around the AC. The inspection will let you know if the AC components are intact and that nothing is missing. This will help you in knowing if the pressure is the right one later on. From this step onwards, put on the safety goggles.
Step 2: Open the hood of your car and locate the low-pressure service port
Each vehicle has two pressure service ports: The low-side service port, also known as the low-pressure service port and the high-pressure service port. Locate the low-pressure port. It is usually found on the vehicle’s passenger side of the firewall. If it challenges you, consult your car’s manual.
Step 3: Connect service ports with the gauges
The AC gauges are used to check Freon levels. Identify both the high-pressure service ports and the low-pressure service port and connect the gauges. The connection is relatively easy to carry out since the gauge has markings that indicate where and how it should be connected. In addition to that, the gauge comes with a well-equipped user guide that gives guidance to the user.
Step 4: Set the highest level of your AC (Max)
To do this:
- Begin with turning on your car engine
- Crank up your AC to the maximum
- If your AC has a recirculation air switch, select and turn it on
The thermometer is used here. Please place it in the center AC vent on the dash.
Step 5: Let the compressor cycle for a few minutes
Give the compressor a few minutes to cycle. After that, the pressures will be stable, and you will be able to get your reading. The reading is sometimes affected by the atmospheric conditions outside of your car. The low-pressure service port will normally register a reading of somewhere between twenty-five to forty Psi. If you go on to read the high-pressure service port, it will register somewhere between 250 Psi to 400 Psi if the Freon levels are okay. If your readings are lower than the usual variables, then the Freon levels are low.
Frequently Asked Question About Freon Level
Is it safe to check my car’s Freon level on my own?
Yes, it is. All you need is some tools and safety measures. With a little tech knowledge and idea, you can do it all by yourself.
Take precautions and avoid touching the engine while it is running or hot. Please turn off your engine, wait for it to cool down, and begin. Wear gloves and safety glasses and also maintain a safe distance.
Should I recharge my car’s AC myself?
In as much as it can be cost-friendly at times, it is not advisable. Most DIY kits are not wholesome. It is only effective when you use professional kits, which is less convenient than going to an auto service.
What are the dangers of refilling your air conditioner yourself?
Most DIY kits do not show the level of refrigerant being pumped in. This usually leads to over-installation, which would hugely undermine the performance of your AC. There is also the risk of using non-compatible models and sustaining injuries.
Checking your car’s Freon levels should be as easy as ABC from now on. With the right tools and steps given here, you should be able to handle everything on your own without needing to see a mechanic. Feel free to comment with questions or reach out to me.