Recharging your vehicle’s AC with R134A refrigerant ensures the system cools the cabin efficiently. But now you’re wondering about the steps you need to follow to use this product properly. We researched this concern and consulted with different industry experts to give you the following answer.
First, ensure that you know and practice proper safety procedures when using R134A refrigerant. After finishing the preparations, follow these steps to recharge your vehicle’s AC system with this product:
- Prepare the vehicle
- Prepare the R134A refrigerant
- Open the AC system’s low port
- Complete the R134A recharging assembly
- Release excess air
- Open the R134A can
- Operate the vehicle’s AC system
- Feed the R134A refrigerant into the AC
- Stop the feed
- Test the AC system
At first, this vehicle AC recharging process may look like a fairly straightforward task. But you might be at a high risk of making mistakes if you miss important details. So continue reading as we talk about this procedure in greater detail.
Before You Start Using R134A Refrigerant
R134A is a chemical compound belonging to a group of hydrofluorocarbons [HFCs]. It’s a refrigerant that typically requires special care during handling. Doing so should prevent issues, such as an increase in health risks.
Follow these safety protocols before you use R134A refrigerant for your car or other cooling systems:
- Ensure that the refrigerants label is clear and readable. A legible label helps prevent accidental ingestions, which can lead to serious health problems.
- Always keep the refrigerant container sealed after each use. Long-term exposure to R134A may promote health hazards.
- Avoid placing the refrigerant container near high-temperature objects. R134A may combust because of its high vapor content, resulting in a high flash point.
- Wear protective gear while handling the refrigerant. Some of the pieces of equipment that you should wear while working with R134A are a respirator, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing.
You might also be wondering if it’s the right time to recharge your vehicle’s refrigerant levels. Read our post on how to check Freon levels in a car to know how to complete this particular task.
How Do You Use R134A Refrigerant In A Car?
What You’ll Need
- R134A refrigerant
- Refrigerant recharge hose with gauge
- Wheel chocks
Step #1: Prepare The Vehicle
Turn off your vehicle’s engine and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Then, open the hood and secure it with the prop rod. Don’t forget to engage the hand or parking brake and chock the wheels to prevent the vehicle from rolling while you’re recharging its AC system.
Step #2: Prepare The R134A Refrigerant
Loosen the valve on one of the hoses until it reaches its highest point. Next, insert the nut with the valve into the R134A’s opening. Twist the canister until it’s secure.
Step #3: Open The AC System’s Low Port
You can typically find your vehicle’s AC’s low port by looking for a small cap. Also, this enclosure should have a small “L” on it. Once found, loosen it and remove it from its location. Don’t forget to set it aside in a safe yet fairly obvious location for its reinstallation.
Step #4: Complete The R134A Recharging Assembly
Attach and secure the open hose of the R134A refrigerant assembly to your vehicle’s low port. If the connector is a quick-connect unit, you may only need to pull the rings back, place them over the low port's opening, and release the rings to secure the assembly.
Step #5: Release Excess Air
Loosen the R134A's canister slightly. Doing so should help bleed the air that might be in the hoses at the time of its installation. Once you hear the hissing noise, tighten the (but don't overtighten) container again.
Step #6: Open The R134A Can
Twist the valve on top of the canister to lower it. Doing so should make the valve’s pin go down, piercing and opening the R134A’s can in the process. If the gauge and hose assembly are secure, the refrigerant in the canister shouldn't escape the assembly.
Step #7: Operate The Vehicle’s AC System
Turn on your vehicle’s engine. Also, activate its AC system and ensure it’s on its coldest settings. You may also need to open the cabin's vents to ensure proper air circulation.
Step #8: Feed The R134A Refrigerant Into The AC
Turn the valve on the R134A’s canister until you open its line fully. Lift the container slightly and twirl it around to help agitate its contents. Doing so helps the R134A solution to enter the vehicle’s AC system more efficiently than allowing the container to sit.
Step #9: Stop The Feed
Once the gauge shows that the AC now has sufficient R134A refrigerant, close the valve at the top of the canister. Then, turn off the vehicle’s cooling system and disengage the engine.
Next, remove the recharging assembly from the vehicle’s low port. Don’t worry if you hear a slight hissing sound as soon as you disconnect the line from the low port’s opening. This relatively light noise is normal and should disappear after a second or two.
Step #10: Test The AC System
Return the low port’s cap to its original location and tighten it. Then, go into your vehicle and turn on the engine. Activate the AC from the cabin’s center console, and check if the cooling system is functioning as intended.
Take note that some of the steps mentioned in this section might be different or may not apply to your specific vehicle. Check your vehicle's owner's manual, or consult its manufacturer or dealer if you need help with certain parts of this process.
Also, watch this video to gain additional insights into this procedure:
After completing this procedure, you may notice that your vehicle's AC system isn't cooling. The probable cause of this issue is that the AC has a refrigerant leak. If so, read our post on what to do if your car has a Freon leak to know the appropriate way to solve this problem.
Do I Need To Add Oil When Adding R134a?
Adding oil as you recharge your vehicle’s AC system with R134A can be an additional step to the recharging process. Although it’s not a requirement, applying the right lubricant to the cooling system during the recharging procedure can help lengthen the framework’s lifespan.
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps to add oil to your car’s AC condenser:
- Turn off the engine and open the hood.
- Find the AC compressor. You may need to remove some parts to expose it.
- Disconnect the compressor’s attachments and remove the assembly from the vehicle.
- Drain the old oil from the system and add a fresh batch.
- Return the AC compressor to the vehicle, along with the other parts you removed.
If you need more information about this process, read our post on how to add PAG oil to your vehicle’s AC condenser.
Where Is R134A Refrigerant Used?
Aside from recharging the vehicle cooling system, you can use R134A refrigerant for commercial and industrial air-conditioning units. Take note that R134A manufacturers may include certain traits in their offered refrigerants, leading to different results. However, these dissimilarities are often few, particularly if the product comes from a reliable brand.
Is R134A An Explosive?
If exposed to normal outdoor temperatures, R134A poses little to no threat of combusting. However, the formula may catch fire and explode if the canister's contents become exposed to strong ignition sources.
What Happens If You Get R134A On Your Skin?
R134A may promote some harm to the skin with direct contact. However, this chemical compound poses little toxicity ratings if your skin comes into direct contact with it.
Still, you may experience some degree of irritation because of the sudden decrease in skin temperature. Long-term skin exposure to R134A can lead to frostbite.
What Happens If You Recharge With The Wrong Refrigerant?
It’s not an advisable practice to mix different refrigerants in one cooling system. Take note that cooling systems, including those in vehicles, often require users to use specific refrigerants. Recharging these devices with other products other than the recommended refrigerant may result in additional strain for these systems.
Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests not mixing different refrigerants as it might lead to an increase in accident and injury risks. For instance, combining 22A refrigerant with other coolants may result in an increase in flammable properties for the new concoction, which also promotes fires and explosions.
Always be careful when recharging your vehicle’s AC with R134A refrigerant. Also, don’t overfill the cooling system with this chemical to ensure the AC works as intended. Last, make sure that you’re using the correct refrigerant for your vehicle to prevent problems and expensive repair fees.