Do AC R-134a Recharge Kits Work?

I’ll admit it folks that for the longest time I thought these AC recharge kits were a gimmick. Snake oil. Waste of money and all that. But they’re not, they are really not! Let me start this off with saying that an air conditioning system rather it’s the one in your home, your fridge, or your car all basically operate the same way. It is a completely closed and sealed system. What that means is that the refrigerant moving in your system is an endless cycle from gas to liquid from gas to liquid. This cycle repeats forever as shown in the below picture.

Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System
Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System

If you are running out of refrigerant that means that somewhere in the refrigerant cycle there is a leak. Your unit is leaking refrigerant and will continue to leak refrigerant until a repair is made. If you dump more refrigerant into it without fixing the leak you are literally throwing money down the drain.

Now here’s the thing though folks. Taking your a car to a mechanic is expensive, really expensive. What if your car is low in refrigerant and it is blowing hot air but it took years and years for it to get that way? In other words, what if you have a very tiny leak in your system. Is that tiny leak worth spending a thousand dollars on to have a mechanic tear apart your car’s air conditioning system?

This is where the R-134a AC recharge kit products come into play. You could spend thirty dollars on a recharge kit and throw some more refrigerant into your car just like that. If you have a small leak then your car may be recharged and reinvigorated with refrigerant for the entire summer season. Now, the next year when you start your car you’ll run into that same problem again as the leak is still there but you can repeat the process and avoid going into the shop and having a costly repair. I know some guys out there who do this process every summer, almost like cleaning the gutters. It’s just something they do with their older car before the summer season starts up.

But wait there’s more! I hate saying that it is just so gimmicky, but there really is more. These AC recharge kits actually come with a built in sealant in an effort to seal any possible leaks as the new refrigerant cycles into your system. There are a couple different kinds of sealants out there. It really depends on what type of recharge kit you purchase. Some have a ‘goo’ that coats the exterior walls of the system preventing leaks while others have a ‘conditioner’ that causes the rubber gaskets and o-rings to swell in an effort to eliminate leakage points in the system. So, by using these kits you may actually solve the problem in your system in the first place, especially if the leak is centered around an o-ring or a gasket.


So, yes, in conclusion these kits do work. But, it should be noted that these kits are temporary fixes to a leak in your system. If you find that your recharge your system and then a few days or weeks later it’s blowing hot air again then you have a whole different problem. The leak in your system could be much worse then you previously thought and you will need to have components replaced such as a compressor, accumulator, hoses, or whatever. Here’s the thing though, there’s no harm in trying it. If you use one of these recharge kits right and follow the instructions you are only out the thirty or fifty dollars it cost to purchase the kit. However, if it does work for you then you just saved a whole bunch of money by not taking your car to the mechanic.

Lastly, if you are unsure how to use one of these kits please click here to be taken to our how to guide on R-134a AC recharge kits.