The Average Cost to Recharge Your Car Air Conditioner Is $20 to $155, Depending on if You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.
This price range is based on national averages for all vehicles and does not factor in taxes, fees, or your particular make and model. Related repairs or maintenance, such as O2 sensor replacement, fuel filter replacement, and new spark plug wires may also be needed. For a more accurate estimate based on your make, model, and location, use the RepairPal Fair Price Estimator.
Get a more accurate estimate for your air conditioner recharge using RepairPal’s Fair Price Estimator:
Cost at the Mechanic: $123 to $155
If a quick DIY recharge doesn’t work, there is probably a leak in your air conditioning system, and you’ll want to take your car to a mechanic who is qualified to work on them. The shop will also have the specialized equipment to track down the source of the leak, as well as to clean out and refill the refrigerant lines after replacing the defective parts.
Cost to DIY: $20 to $50
- Difficulty Level: Beginner
- Parts Needed:
The cost of a DIY recharge kit is so low that it’s worth trying to recharge it yourself as a first diagnostic step. Air conditioning systems can slowly leak out refrigerants over time. It’s possible that if there’s nothing wrong with your system, a quick recharge will get it blowing cold air once again. If it doesn’t fix the problem, though, have a shop qualified to work on AC systems check it out.
What Is Recharging Your AC?
Your air conditioning system uses a special refrigerant called R134a to remove moisture from the air inside your car and deposit it outside. Over time, this refrigerant can escape, either through normal evaporation or through leaks that form in your system. Without refrigerant, the AC can no longer cool down the inside of your car.
Recharging the AC is simply the process of adding more refrigerant to the system so that it works properly again.
What Happens If You Don’t Recharge the AC?
Your car’s air conditioning system is designed to automatically shut down if there isn’t enough refrigerant or pressure in the lines. This will prevent additional damage from occurring. It’s perfectly safe to continue driving without AC, but doing so for extended periods of time could cause the compressor to seize from lack of use, adding to the expense and complexity of repairs later. And, of course, you won’t be able to cool off while you’re driving.
Often, a simple DIY recharge kit will get your AC going again, especially if it only just started to fail. The cost to recharge your car air conditioner this way is $20 to $50 at any auto parts store and is a definite first step toward repairing your AC, even if you’re a beginner.
(RELATED: How to Recharge Your Car’s AC)
That said, if the air conditioning recharge doesn’t work, definitely find a professional mechanic who is equipped and qualified to work on air conditioning systems. This repair requires specialized equipment to collect any remaining refrigerant so that it doesn’t cause environmental issues. A pro can also use a special dye to find the leaks and/or failed components and replace them accordingly.
The equipment alone places this job well out of reach for the average DIYer. Unless you have a particularly old car that isn’t worth a lot of money, it’s totally worth paying a professional to repair your air conditioner.
How Often to Recharge Your Car Air Conditioner
Recharging the AC on a car is not a regular maintenance item on your car’s manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule. In theory, the system is sealed, and you should never need to do this.
In practice, however, rubber seals dry up and wear out, and refrigerant slowly evaporates over time, leaving too little in the system for the air conditioner to work effectively. Other components can fail as well, but attempting a recharge is the first thing you should try, particularly since this is a cheap and easy DIY fix and often all it needs to start working again.
Common Symptoms You Need to Recharge Your Car Air Conditioning
- Cold air no longer comes out of your air conditioning vents
- Fog doesn’t disappear from your windshield when you switch your climate control to defrost
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Recovering autocross and track day enthusiast. Once turned a VW Jetta into a pickup truck. Lives in a van down by the river. Dream car: 2001 Subaru WRC rally car.