We’ve all seen the commercials: for a low, low price, you can buy a little aerosol canister that will fix your car’s air conditioning for a fraction of what the professionals would charge! Many companies have thrown their hats in the DIY A/C recharge ring, with some even claiming to provide colder air than the competition. So are these cold in a can systems a cheap fix for a sticky situation, or are they just blowing cold air?
The answer lies in the way that your A/C works. Many people imagine that their air conditioning loses its strength because their vehicle’s refrigerant stops working as efficiently or loses its potency. The fact of the matter is, if your car’s refrigerant isn’t cooling it down as well, it’s because the refrigerant is leaking.
If that sounds like a bad thing to you, you’d be right. Not only does it mean you have a problem that needs repairing, but the chemicals used to cool your car are very bad for the environment, to the point that the refrigerant found in older cars is no longer legal to sell in the United States.
So it’s not that A/C recharge kits don’t do what they intend to: they top off your refrigerant. The problem is that if you’re short on refrigerant, it means you have a leak. Best case scenario, you will get temporary relief. Worst case scenario, you will flood a system that’s already in trouble with extra gunk.
Taking your faulty A/C to a dealer or mechanic will cost you roughly ten times as much as that handy dandy can you saw on TV. But as with so many car repair shortcuts, it could cost you even more than that farther down the line.
Our technicians completely flush the A/C system, create a vacuum to check for a leak, use a special dye to further check for leaks, and use the exact ingredients and supplies that your owner’s manual recommends. If you take your A/C troubles to our technicians, most of what you’re paying for is time. Time spent dotting every ‘i’ and crossing every ‘t’ to make sure that your car is fixed before they let it out of the shop.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from researching DIY A/C kits, it’s this: if a product is advertised as “buy one, get one free,” that probably means it isn’t likely to get the job done right the first time. It’s important to never forget the old but wise adage, “You always get what you pay for,” and in this case that’s absolutely true.