Every year when the weather turns warm, my shops are inundated with air conditioning problems, and many of those problems are solved by do it yourselfers. So if you’re a do it yourselfer the very first you need to know is what type of refrigerant your car has. 

Now years ago it was a standard r12, well that was phased out in the 90s for r134a and now if you look at a lot of the new cars, you’ll see that they have r 1,2,3,4, yf. You have to know what goes in it so you don’t put the wrong product in your air conditioning system. I know the fittings are not interchangeable but somehow you folks figure out a way to do that. Don’t know how but you do.

Anyway, if an air conditioning system is not working properly you seem to think the only thing that could possibly be wrong is that its low on refrigerant, so you go out and buy one of these handy dandy kits, and you start pumping more refrigerant in it. Well if it wasn’t low in the first place, say it may have had a corroded wire connector or something like that, you put more refrigerant in it…now it’s overcharged. Now you got a whole set of new problems, and you have to take it to a shop. Number one, remember unless you know its low on refrigerant don’t add refrigerant to the system.

Then if you take it to the shop make sure you ask the shop if they have one of these. This is the refrigerant identifier. It tells the technician exactly what’s in you air conditioning system as a refrigerant. Why is this important, well because there are all kinds of counterfeit refrigerants out there. Now a lot of the refrigerants are cut with products like propane, which is a great refrigerant, except it burns and its explosive. You certainly don’t want a bonfire under your dash. So you want the shop to use the refrigerant identifier on every car that comes in so that your car doesn’t get cross contaminated. Plus you want them to use it on every container of refrigerant that they buy so that they don’t somehow have a container of bogus refrigerant slip through the system and then get installed in your car. So make sure that you ask that question. If they have a refrigerant identifier, and do they use it on every car, and every new bottle of refrigerant.

And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line right here at Motorweek.