Will using a recharge kit improve my car’s fuel efficiency?

recharge kit improve my car’s fuel efficiency

If your car’s air conditioning doesn’t blow ice-cold anymore, it may be time to get the system recharged. Those DIY kits that promise to do the job for you are popular, but there are some caveats.

The AC refrigerant gas that runs your car’s air conditioner can leak out over the years, and eventually your system will need a recharge. That’s when you need a professional to take a look at the system and refill it with the perfect amount of refrigerant to exactly the right pressure.
But a few people may wonder, can I use an car ac recharge kit on a hybrid or electric vehicle?

The answer is no, even if the car’s AC system has no major leaks. It’s important to remember that the air conditioning systems on hybrid and electric vehicles use different compressors than those found in traditional cars, and they require a different type of refrigerant and oil. If you use the wrong kind of refrigerant or oil in a hybrid’s system, it can damage or even destroy the compressor.

Will using a recharge kit improve my car’s fuel efficiency?

For example, the electric compressor in a Toyota Prius uses a special non-conductive oil that cannot be contaminated with the regular PAG (polyalphaolefin) oil used in conventional belt driven compressors. If you buy a consumer can of “R-134a” refrigerant, it will probably say in tiny lettering on the label, “not for use in Hybrid vehicles with electric compressors”. If you mix that refrigerant with conventional PAG oil and put it into the system of a Prius Gen 2, you’ll quickly destroy the compressor.

This is why it’s important to let a qualified technician service the air conditioning system of any hybrid or electric vehicle. They will have the tools and the know-how to properly service the system using the correct refrigerant and oil.

A professional technician will also have a refrigerant sniffing device that can detect any unwanted contaminants in the system. These contaminants can include small amounts of dyes, oils and other liquids that are leaking from the system. The technician can then use the proper sized compressor oil to flush out the system before refilling it with new refrigerant.

Taking the DIY route with an AC recharge kit could also lead to a bigger problem down the road. Those kits don’t measure the amount of refrigerant going into the system, so they could actually add more than the recommended amount. This can cause the system to overcharge and can shorten its life by causing permanent damage.

In addition to being dangerous, overcharging an air conditioning system can make the system work harder. This can cause it to deteriorate and start developing problems that require the expensive replacement of all of the components in the system. In most cases, it’s better to have a professional diagnose and repair the air conditioning system in the first place. That way you can be sure your vehicle’s air conditioning will always provide the cool, comfortable ride that you expect.

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