Is it time for an A/C Recharge?

Brakes Plus employee writing up a ticket with free estimates before any work is done

Your vehicle’s A/C is a closed system. If there are no problems, coolant is not consumed by the vehicle, and it does it escape or dissipate with use. If the air conditioning stops working but the fan continues to blow warm air, a leak in a hose, connector or other part of the A/C system is probably in need of repair.

You might think having an A/C Recharge completed before you experience cooling problems is part of your annual vehicle maintenance and repairs. But in this case, you shouldn’t need this type of A/C service more often than every few years, at the very most. Your A/C system doesn’t “use up” refrigerant, so if you find yourself in frequent need of an A/C recharge, or you’ve been recommended to “top off” the refrigerant, you probably have a leak. Luckily, at Brakes Plus we can repair your vehicle’s A/C today!

When is it time to add or replace the refrigerant?

If your A/C is losing its potency, even after an A/C recharge, all signs point to a leak. But if your vehicle is staying cool on the hottest days, you should leave well enough alone. The a/c system  obviously has enough refrigerant to operate correctly.

If there is a leak in a hose or anywhere else in the A/C, most modern vehicles are designed to shut down if the refrigerant level drops to a certain level. This is to prevent damage to the a/c compressor. The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant and keeps it flowing throughout the system. When there is not enough refrigerant in the AC, compressor damage may occur.

Stop in for a FREE A/C Check today and our automotive technicians will look at your entire a/c system before making a diagnosis and recommending a course of action. We are here to help you understand the A/C components and to explain how all the individual parts in the system work together with the R-134A refrigerant to keep the interior cool and delivering cold air to you and your passengers.

Brakes Plus Air Conditioning A/C Service

Visit Brakes Plus for a FREE A/C Inspection if you are experiencing any of the common issues below.

  • A/C won’t blow cold air, or the air isn’t as cold as it used to be.
  • Strange or stale smelling air.
  • The fan won’t run or makes strange noises.
  • Defroster isn’t clearing fogged-up windows.

Depending on your situation, there are a few possible outcomes:

Option 1: Getting an A/C Recharge without fixing the leak

Leaving your vehicle with a leak is never a good idea. But finding and fixing a leak can be expensive, so you may not want to do it if both of the following are true:

  • You’ve never had to recharge the unit before—The leak is likely a slow one and recharging the unit may get you through the summer.
  • You’re going to be replacing the unit within the next year—No use in sinking money into something you’ll soon be replacing.

Option 2: Finding and fixing the leak

We will likely give you a price to locate the leak. Then, once we’ve found the leak, we’ll give you the price to fix the leak, which will depend on where it’s located.

In many cases we will have to:

  1. Find the leak using electronic equipment, UV dye or a bubbling agent
  2. Evacuate all the refrigerant
  3. Fix the leak
  4. Complete the A/C Recharge
  5. Test to make sure the leak has been fixed

Option 3: Replacing the unit

Replacing the whole unit because of a refrigerant leak might seem extreme, and it doesn’t happen that often. But in some situations it makes the most sense. For example, if your vehicle and A/C care over 14 years old, to fix the leak we will need to replace the condensing coil. This could likely cost $1,000+ and you’ll still probably need a new system in less than a year. This is usually the case if your system uses R-22 refrigerant and the fix for the leak is extremely costly. While we work on all makes and models at Brakes Plus, R-22 is being phased out so parts are harder to come by and more expensive. We may not be able to get our hands on the parts your vehicle needs. Refrigerant itself is also expensive. In the long run, upgrading to a new system that uses R-410A refrigerant may be a better choice.

Stop by Brakes Plus for a FREE A/C Check

Visit Brakes Plus today and our automotive technicians will look at your entire A/C system before making a diagnosis and recommending a course of action. We are here to help you understand your A/C system. If you have any questions about your diagnosis or would like to discuss options for your vehicle, please let us know! We’re happy to bring you into the bay and show you first-hand what we’re seeing and explain how we arrived at our quote and recommendations.


Clarifying note: We are talking about “refrigerant” and not Freon in this article. Freon is the brand name for a type of refrigerant that is no longer manufactured in the U.S. because it can damage the ozone layer. Modern vehicles use a refrigerant known as R-134 or R-134a.