When and Why to Recharge Your Ride's AC System

August is just around the corner. For most US states, it's the hottest month of the year. Here in Florida, where E3 Spark Plugs is based, it's brutal - especially if your ride's air conditioning system is busted.

In a desperate effort to avoid sweat-soaked hours feeling like you're riding around town in a pressure cooker on wheels, many of us are tempted to take that whole topping-off thing a little too seriously. Of course, that's exactly what you want to do once a year when it comes to motor oil, antifreeze, etc. But recharging your AC system annually typically isn't necessary. Barring any issues necessitating repair, your AC should only need recharging once every two to three years, automotive experts say.

Of course there are a few telltale signs that your ride's AC system is in need of a refrigerant flush and fill - the most obvious being that you've got the system going full blast but still look like you just stepped out of the shower. If that's the case then yeah, a recharge likely is in order. Just keep in mind that while most modern vehicle AC systems are designed to shut down once the refrigerant level tanks, that wishful thinking that makes you keep turning on a bum system, hoping for a divine intervention, could cause some serious damage to an older car's AC compressor. Now, you're talking a whole lot more cash than a can or two of refrigerant. Also, if you did recently recharge your system and it's still blowing hot air, then chances are you've got a leak, likely in a hose or connector.

Once you've determine that a recharge is, indeed, in order, you can go the DIY topping-off route or have a pro handle it. Just know that without the proper equipment, telling exactly how much refrigerant remains in the system can be tricky. Get it wrong and you can wonk up the pressure. The gearheads here at E3 Spark Plugs say your best bet is to have the refrigerant completely emptied and replaced by a pro.