When the air conditioner in your car begins blowing hot air, it’s probably time to recharge the refrigerant.
This might sound like a daunting task, but it’s usually pretty easy. In most cases, you just have to locate a valve, hook something to the valve, and release the refrigerant.
The only hard part is choosing the right product for the job.
In this article, we will tell you how to choose the best AC recharge kit. All cars manufactured today use the same kind of refrigerant, so there won’t be a whole lot of difference in the active ingredient. However, some kits are much better than others. Let’s look at six of the better products to see how they differ from one another.
Top 7 Car AC Recharge Kits (DIY & Professional)
1. Interdynamics A/C Pro Kit (Two 15 oz. cans)
2. Johnsen's 6312-12PK
3. Robinair RG3
4. DuPont 3 Cans R-134a
5. Kozyvacu KZTA35011
6. Robinair (34288) CoolTech R-134A
- Top 7 Car AC Recharge Kits (DIY & Professional)
- 1. Interdynamics A/C Pro (Two 15 oz. cans) – Best DIY AC Recharge Kit
- 2. Johnsen's 6312-12PK – Best R134a A/C Refrigerant Refill Can
- 3. Robinair RG3 Twin-Cylinder – Best Portable Refrigerant Recovery Machine
- 4. DuPont Suva (6 Cans) – Most Affordable R-134a Automobile Refrigerant/Freon Pack
- 5. Kozyvacu KZTA35011 – Best Auto AC Repair Kit
- 6. Robinair (34288) CoolTech R-134A – Recovery, Recycling, and Recharging Machine
- Best AC Recharge Kit – Buyer’s Guide
Below is a list of the best AC recharge kits for cars that are available in DIY and professional options.
1. Interdynamics A/C Pro (Two 15 oz. cans) – Best DIY AC Recharge Kit
You just fit the adapter to the low-pressure AC valve, hit the trigger, and watch the gauge.
This simplicity is the biggest strength of this product. It gets good reviews and seems to have a low rate of defects.
Although these kinds of charging systems can burst and explode if used incorrectly, they are very good when used correctly.
This product gives you a way to get the job done with minimal money and effort.
2. Johnsen's 6312-12PK – Best R134a A/C Refrigerant Refill Can
Small cans like this are not regulated as harshly as larger cans or older refrigerants. EPA regulations are a little looser when it comes to small cans like this.
There is nothing fancy here; No sealers, cleaners, or anything else. It’s just the can and nothing else. It doesn’t even come with a tap or an adapter piece. Thus, it is not a complete kit. Also, these things are cheap because they don’t actually contain all that much refrigerant.
3. Robinair RG3 Twin-Cylinder – Best Portable Refrigerant Recovery Machine
Not only can it be used to add refrigerant to your vehicle, but it can also be used to recycle the old refrigerant.
It should be noted here that use of this device requires an EPA certification, so that makes it unusable for the average person.
This thing is lightweight, built for safety, and has all the features that it should have. If you actually need something this serious, it’s a good choice.
4. DuPont Suva (6 Cans) – Most Affordable R-134a Automobile Refrigerant/Freon Pack
Still, this is another pure refrigerant with no gimmicks that offers the buyer a way to stock up at a reasonable price.
Please note that this is not a complete kit and you will need to additionally purchase an R134a hose.
This will add a little to the final cost but the hose is reusable and will serve you for many years.
5. Kozyvacu KZTA35011 – Best Auto AC Repair Kit
It contains everything you need for a complete flush and recharge. All the hoses and even a vacuum pump.
We like the fact that this pump is so powerful. It’s probably stronger than it really needs to be, but a little extra power doesn’t hurt.
The whole thing is also meant to resist heat for extended use.
The only problem here is that the company cut a few corners on the small pieces, like hoses and adaptors. A few of them are weak and cheap-looking. Still, this is an excellent value overall.
6. Robinair (34288) CoolTech R-134A – Recovery, Recycling, and Recharging Machine
At a price of over $4000, our expectations for this one are quite high. However, it performs its job quickly and efficiently.
Of course, very few people will need to spend this kind of money, and even fewer will have the licensing or the need for a large and dedicated machine like this.
Still, if you truly need the biggest recovery/recharging machine that money can buy, this is a good one.
Best AC Recharge Kit – Buyer’s Guide
Let’s look at some more essential information that you need to know before buying a product of this type.
What Is A Refrigerant?
Have you ever used an instant cold pack? If so, you can easily understand how a refrigerant works. There is no need to get into the exact science behind it, but here’s what you need to know: A refrigerant is a chemical substance that produces energy in the form of cold. Just as your engine produces energy in the form of heat derived from the combustion of fuel, your air conditioner works by blowing hot air over cold coils. These coils contain the refrigerant, and their temperature is easily transmitted to the copper coils.
Most cold-producing devices (air conditioners, refrigerators, etc.) make use of a specialized refrigerant called freon. Because freon works by means of a chemical reaction within the refrigerant, it makes sense that this reaction could not possibly last forever. Sooner or later, the old refrigerant will be used up and require replacement.
Are There Different Types Of Refrigerant?
Yes, there are two types of refrigerant on which your car might be running. If your car was made prior to 1994, it was made to use R12 refrigerant. Cars made during or after 1994 will require R134a refrigerant. This sounds simple, but it’s not.
R12 refrigerant is no longer manufactured anywhere. It was banned for reasons of environmental protection, as it represented a major source of air pollution. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find an old can of R12 refrigerant for sale, though it will probably cost $10-$30 a can. If not, you will have to get an entirely new AC system installed.
What Separates A Good Kit From A Bad One?
You already know that the refrigerant will not vary much. Regardless of its source, R134a refrigerant has to meet certain standards. These standards are set by the government and are more or less non-negotiable.
As the title of this article implies, we aren’t just looking for a can of refrigerant. We want a kit. We want something that contains all the materials we will need in order to get the job done. Not only that, but we want something that isn’t difficult to use or needlessly complicated.
You can get a good idea about this part by looking at the instructions on the package. The simpler the process, the better. Any product that requires you to go through a whole lot of steps might be compensating for lack of quality. They might also be trying to cut corners in the manufacturing department by not including everything you need.
Some products also contain a sealer, which is meant to fix any minor leaks that may exist in the system. This is also a nice bonus, as some leaks are too small to detect. Often, these products will cause shrunken seals to re-expand, plugging any gaps that may have been created.
How Do I Add Refrigerant To My Vehicle?
Every product will have slightly different instructions, but most of them fall within certain parameters. Your air conditioning system has two valves. One of them is a high-pressure valve, and the other is a low-pressure valve. Often, the caps of these valves will be marked with an “H” or an “L.”
With most products, you just hook the can up to the low-pressure valve and release it. A gauge is used to determine how much is needed, and thus prevent overfilling. Make sure you wear gloves and eye protection when doing this, as the refrigerant can be pretty hard on the skin and even harder on the eyes.
We hope that we have given you all the knowledge you need to choose the best AC recharging kit for you. We thank you for reading all the way to the end, and we hope to see you again.