How does the AC system work?

Your air conditioning system is full of refrigerant, a liquid substance. Older cars use R-12 refrigerant, and newer models (anything made after 1995) take R-134a.
The refrigerant, as its name suggests, cools the air down, so you don’t end up sweating while driving. But, over time, the air conditioning system’s seals can erode and leak, causing the refrigerant levels to drop.
No refrigerant? No cool air. Hello, sweaty.

How can I tell if my AC system is broken?

You’ll know right away if there’s an issue with your AC system! Especially on a scorcher of a day. If your car isn’t blowing cold air when it should or if the air isn’t as cold as it normally is, then something is wrong with the air conditioning system.
Your car’s AC system is completely sealed, so the only way you’ll know is to test it out. Sometimes a clicking noise from your engine can also indicate an issue with the AC system.

How does a mechanic repair the AC system?

Repairing your AC system is always best left to a mechanic. It is illegal for refrigerant to be released into the atmosphere or environment, so leave it to your mechanic to properly dispose of it if it’s leaking.
When checking or repairing your AC system, a mechanic will:
  • Check the entire system for any leaks
  • Top off the system with the correct refrigerant
  • Check charge level of the air conditioning system
Depending on the extent of the damage, a mechanic may also install thermometers in the vents to keep an eye on the temperature or install a manifold gauge set.

How much does it cost to repair the AC system?

Like most car repairs, the exact cost of repairing your AC system will depend on your vehicle’s make and model. A leaky AC system can cost $160 to $1000, depending on whether or not the leak can be repaired or if you need to replace the entire component.

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