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Published Dec. 3, 2018

There’s nothing worse than climbing inside your car on a hot summer day, starting it up, and cranking the air conditioner only to discover that your vents are blowing hot air in your direction. Instead of a cool, air-conditioned breeze, you’re stuck sweating and relying on nothing more than open windows and airflow while you drive.

If your car’s AC system isn’t delivering the crisp, cold air you expect, you might be running low on refrigerant. As a critical component within your vehicle air conditioner, refrigerant can leak out or become depleted. It’s important to maintain your AC system and recharge it so it’ll keep cooling with a dose of car AC refrigerant every now and then. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to get your car’s air conditioner running cool once again, you’ll want to take a look at our picks for the best car AC refrigerants right now.

The Best Car AC Refrigerant

ZeroR R134a Refrigerant is our pick for the best overall car AC refrigerant as it’s safe, it’s made to meet purity standards, and most importantly of all, it’s effective. This refrigerant will get the job done, refreshing and recharging your car’s air conditioning system so you can enjoy cool air on the hottest days once again. Made in the USA, this car AC refrigerant meets required purity standards. It’s also made with new R134a gas, which ensures every canister is filled with freshly-made refrigerant. This prevents the rust that can accrue due to older gas and moisture inside the canister. 

This car AC refrigerant meets all 50 state-compliant design requirements, too. With a self-sealing valve built into the container, you can actually store any leftover refrigerant for use later. That gives you great value and continued use for just one price.

Key Features
  • Made in the USA
  • Compliant in all 50 states
  • Self-sealing valve design
  • Refrigerant won’t rust when stored
  • Made with new gas
Specification
  • Brand ZeroR
  • Model 012R134A
  • Weight N/A

The InterDynamics AC Pro Car Air Conditioner R134a Refrigerant Kit is much more than just a canister of car AC refrigerant. It’s a complete, comprehensive kit that includes everything you need to both recharge your cooling system and prevent future issues. It includes 20 ounces of A/C Pro Ultra synthetic A/C recharge solution that’ll replace any lost refrigerant in your car’s AC system, a canister of A/C Pro Super Seal A/C Stop Leak that seals any potential leaks and keeps your refrigerant from disappearing, and a vent and duct cleaner that removes odors. 

You’ll have everything you need to restore your car’s AC system and bring it back to great health. It can help you seal common leaks in rubber O-rings, gaskets, and hoses while also refilling and recharging your refrigerant.

Key Features
  • Car AC refrigerant restores cold air to your vehicle in just 10 minutes
  • Sealant gets rid of leaks in metal as well as rubber components
  • Vent and duct cleaner neutralizes odors caused by mold, mildew, stale air, and smoke
  • Recharges and restores your AC system for better performance
  • Refrigerant features two times the cooling boosters compared to competitors’ products
Specification
  • Brand InterDynamics
  • Model 18575
  • Weight 4.25 pounds

Are you a hoarder? The type of person who feels more at ease when their house is flooded with all sorts of knick-knacks? Now, you can start hoarding stuff that can be put to good use and buy Johnsen’s three pack of refrigerant. These refrigerants cost very little when purchased in bulk.

This quality R-134 refrigerant contains no mystery chemicals, oils or dye. Before you fill up your A/C, it’s recommended to separately purchase an AC dispenser but, in our opinion, the price is worth it.  If you’re the kind of guy who likes to have stuff just lying around, then look no further. Note: it cannot be shipped to California.

Key Features
  • Zero Additives – no unknown chemicals, oils or dyes
  • Half the price of major retailers averaging around $5 per can
  • Freezing cold results
  • 100% Made in America
Specification
  • Brand Johnsen's
  • Model 6312-12PK
  • Weight 9 lbs

This product is perfect when you’ve got a small leak that needs fixing. Avoid a costly garage bill and repair your rubber hose, gasket, or O-ring with the Interdynamics EZ Chill Refrigerant. Everything you need to fix your A/C is included, including an easy-to-use pressure gauge, leak solution, and a charging hose with a convenient push-button dispenser.

This is not your average refrigerant. Interdynamics specifically manufactured a fluid containing three ounces of additives and 15 ounces of top-quality R-134 to ensure that your AC system will be good as new after resolving the leak. If you’re confused about how to use this product, watch the handy video provided by A/C Pro, which will take you through the procedure step by step. You’ll be an expert in no time.

Key Features
  • Reusable in-line pressure gauge included with purchase
  • Leak solution contained to fix nearly all common leaks
  • Charging hose includes a push-button dispenser for easy use
  • 15 ounces of R-134 and 3 ounces of additives are specifically designed to recharge the AC system
  • Maximum cooling power ensured
Specification
  • Brand Interdynamics
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 3.2 lbs

Effective, easy to use, and high-tech — that’s what you get when you choose Mr. Freeze Car AC Recharge Kit and Leak Sealer. This impressive car AC refrigerant set includes R134a gas to revitalize your car’s air conditioning system and a leak sealant that’ll take care of any potential problems within the rubber seals, rings, and gaskets. You can get cold air in mere minutes when you use the AC refrigerant, and you can trust that it’ll work. Mr. Freeze uses Accufill technology to measure the temperature of the air coming from your car’s vents instead of the pressure of your AC system. With the wireless digital temperature sensor that’s included, you’ll be able to check how it’s working.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of this car AC refrigerant kit is you don’t have to be an expert. You can use it on your car without worry and without special tools.

Key Features
  •  Includes 12 ounces of R134a refrigerant
  • Comes with 2 ounces of synthetic lubricant enhancer with leak sealer
  • Uses Accufill technology to measure the temperature of the air coming from car vents
  • No tools are needed to recharge your AC with these items
  • Recharges, lubricates, and seals leaks all at once
Specification
  • Brand Mr. Freeze
  • Model 533505C
  • Weight 1.56 pounds

This state-of-the-art Freon freezes like the North Pole due to its advanced QwikBoost chemistry, meaning that you’ll get colder air up to 50% faster. Rave reviews give Interdynamics Artic Freeze five stars for saving them from costly mechanic bills when all they needed was to seal up a small leak. The advanced leak sealer included makes this all possible.

This Freon is like medicine for your car: after usage, any lingering acid or moisture will be eliminated from your AC system and the lost refrigerant and oil will be added back in to lubricate and upkeep the system. Likewise, the ACME threaded top ensures durability. What more could you possibly need?

Key Features
  • A/C system life is extended as Artic-Freeze eliminates the system's moisture and acid build-up
  • Advanced leak sealer in rubber hoses, gaskets, and O-rings
  • Formulated with cutting-edge QwikBoost chemistry ensures colder air up to 50% faster
  • ACME threaded top
Specification
  • Brand Interdynamics
  • Model AF-3
  • Weight 15 oz

The ZeroR R134a AC Refrigerant Top-Kit includes three items — two 12-ounce cans of car AC refrigerant and one can tap with a gauge. With this kit, you’ll have enough refrigerant to revitalize your car’s air conditioning, and you can store the extra to keep on hand in case you need it in the future. You’ll be able to recharge even very low systems; however, you may need more refrigerant for empty systems. The included can tap with gauge will make it easy to use the refrigerant and directly apply it to your vehicle’s AC system.

This car AC refrigerant is made in the USA, and the cans meet 50 state compliant requirements. Each canister features a unique self-sealing valve, which allows you to safely and securely store extra refrigerant if needed.

Key Features
  • Two 12 ounce cans of refrigerant
  • One can tap with gauge
  • Refrigerant is made using new gas to present rust inside the canister
  • Refrigerant is 50 state compliant, with a self-sealing valve
  • Made in the USA
Specification
  • Brand ZeroR
  • Model GR134TOK-2
  • Weight 24 ounces

We have to admit, this Freon does look a little intimidating at first, with its imposing black design an array of complicated looking equipment. But it’s the front-runner on today’s market for a reason, with NDP deeming it to be the number one selling AC recharge kit in 2016. This Freon is a unique solution for small-scale problems, getting you back on the road with a fraction of the cost than a mechanic would.

Equipped with a braided recharge hose and a reusable trigger dispenser with a built-in low-pressure gauge, you’ll have all the equipment needed ready to go before starting the job. This ultra-synthetic kit combines additives and R-134a together to create a product well worth investing in.

Key Features
  • Reusable trigger dispenser with built-in low-pressure gauge
  • An extra-long 24" braided recharge hose provides easy access when working with hard to reach service ports
  • Extends system life by sealing AC leaks
  • 17 ounces of R-134a and 3 ounces of additives reinvigorate the system
  • The top AC recharge kit according to NPD 2016 (New Product Development)
Specification
  • Brand Interdynamics
  • Model ACP-100N
  • Weight 2.1. lbs

If you’ve been looking for high-quality car AC refrigerants, you’ll want to consider Chemours Brand Automotive Freon R134a Refrigerant. This product, which was previously sold under the name DuPont Suva Freon, has long been a favorite of car owners. Made in the USA, this refrigerant is made with pure R134a gas — you don’t have to worry about it being watered down or altered with added oil or dye. 

You can use this Chemours car AC refrigerant to recharge your vehicle’s air conditioning system. It offers excellent performance, lasting reliability, and safe use. It meets both AHRI-700 and SAE J2276 purity standards, and it can be used in all different makes and models. Each canister even features a self-sealing valve for safe storage too. You’ll get enough refrigerant from these canisters to fill about three AC systems.

Key Features
  • Six 12 ounce cans for one price
  • Refrigerant is made with pure R134a, with no oil or dye added
  • Meets AHRI-700 and SAE J2776 purity standards
  • The same product previously known under the name DuPont Suva Freon
Specification
  • Brand Chemours
  • Model CHE-R134a-12
  • Weight N/A

The InterDynamics Arctic Freeze Car Air Conditioner Synthetic R134a Refrigerant will take your car’s AC system from lukewarm and weak to chilly and perfectly cool. Each 12-ounce canister of this car AC refrigerant is able to recharge and restore your air conditioner. And it even offers another benefit: it may be able to stop the loss of refrigerant going forward. Both a recharge solution and a leaker sealer, this single product can work as a system-safe sealer that will stop or prevent leaks in your air conditioner’s rubber hoses, gaskets, and O-rings. 

What makes this car AC refrigerant so effective is its special formula. It’s made with advanced QwikBoost chemistry so it can produce colder air up to 50 percent faster. It even helps eliminate the buildup of moisture.

Key Features
  • Works fast and coolers even faster, delivering cold air up to 50 percent faster
  • 12 ounces of R134a refrigerant
  • EPA compliant, with self-sealing canister
  • Includes system-safe leak sealer to prevent loss of refrigerant in your car’s AC system
Specification
  • Brand InterDynamics
  • Model AF-3
  • Weight 15 ounces

Best Car AC Refrigerants Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Consider When Buying a Car AC Refrigerant

Before buying any car AC refrigerants, don’t head to your local store. There are a lot of choices available when it comes to automotive refrigerants. Instead, check out our list of questions you need to ask yourself and consider before buying.

  • How much refrigerant are you going to need?

Firstly, what kind of climate do you live in? You’re surely going to need more refrigerant over a period of time living in Texas or Florida than you will living in North Dakota. If you’re one of the lucky ones who are most blessed with sunny weather, then consider buying refrigerant in bulk. Drivers who live in summer weather year-round will rely on air conditioners more often; drivers who live in climates with cold winters will not. Think about how frequently you need to cool your car and use that as a guide.

  • What kind of vehicle will you be buying this refrigerant for?

Next, it’s time to think about your specific vehicle. Many people are unaware that hybrid models cannot take the same kind of refrigerants than your average car. Brands such as Interdynamics have thankfully released refrigerant for hybrid models.

  • Do you have all the required tools?

You don’t need to be a professional mechanic to recharge your car’s AC and achieve better cooling, but you do want to be properly prepared. First things first, you’ll need to become familiar with the tools that will be used to protect you first such as safety goggles and gloves, so the refrigerant doesn’t harm your bare skin.

We recommend investing in a reliable gauge set. These are used to read the high and low side pressures in an AC system and to recharge the system with refrigerant. This is too complicated a procedure to complete blind-sighted and unprotected!

  • Are you skilled enough to do this job?

Although many dealerships get a bad rap for setting very high prices for small jobs, the large majority are trustworthy and ready to help. If you know that attempting to change your refrigerant alone could end disastrously, it’s ok to get help!

Only you can determine your level of comfort when it comes to recharging your AC system on your own. This service isn’t too complicated, but you can always enlist a professional mechanic at a dealership or local repair shop if need be.

air conditioning in the car
Car AC Refrigerant

Why Does Your Air Conditioning Need Recharging?

In most cases, your air conditioning needs recharging simply because it runs out. You can then decide to deal with this yourself or ask a professional.

However, sometimes your air conditioning shuts down as your car’s AC has a leak. Your car isn’t trying to further punish you by shutting down the air conditioning because of a leak, it’s trying to save you from additional hassle. If a leak in a hose or anywhere else occurs in the AC, most modern vehicle systems are designed to shut down once the refrigerant reaches a set level so that the air-conditioning compressor will be protected. This is not an invitation to ignore the problem, serious damage may occur if you try to overlook the leak.

Types of Car AC Refrigerants

The difference in refrigerants is all down to how old your car is. There are two types of refrigerants used: R12 and R134a. R12 is known as the old-fashioned refrigerant and was used in cars pre-1944. As you can imagine, this Freon had a major role in damaging the ozone layer. It’s no longer available for casual purchase, no longer manufactured in North America and will have to be fitted by a professional. Likewise, the price of R22 has absolutely skyrocketed and this refrigerant won’t be accessible for use at all by 2020.

If your vehicle was manufactured after 1995, like most cars it will require an R134a refrigerant, which is a less harmful alternative to the R12 systems. These systems don’t leak nearly as much as the dinosaur systems and are a lot better for our planet.

NEVER mix different types of refrigerants together. You’d think this would be common sense but there’s always somebody who doesn’t see the problem with this! By doing this, you’re pretty much asking for a fire in your vehicle.

Car's ac interior
Car AC Refrigerant

Best Car AC Refrigerants FAQ:

Q:  What is a Car AC Refrigerant?

  Car AC Refrigerant is what keeps us from melting alive when driving about on horrifically hot summer days. Stating the obvious, AC is short for air conditioning and the refrigerant is a substance or mixture used for cooling. Lots of people refer to a car’s AC Refrigerant as Freon, which is actually a registered tradename that describes a whole class of chemicals used in refrigeration. In other words, it’s a coolant which is responsible for creating the cool air. DuPont uses the term Freon as the brand name for Chlorofluorocarbons (an organic compound) and it’s pretty obvious why considering that this term is impossible to pronounce! Don’t lie, you just tried to pronounce it, didn’t you?

Q:  Is a Car AC Refrigerant Dangerous?

  100%. When it’s the middle of winter and an AC leak occurs, a large majority of us won’t bother our shirts changing the refrigerant; it’s not like we’ll be using it, right? However, what many people fail to consider is that changing your AC isn’t all about being at a comfortable temperature while driving, it’s about the toxic air that you and your family will be breathing in until you get around to doing so. There is such a thing as refrigerant poisoning, which occurs when vital oxygen is cut off from entering your cells and lungs caused by deeply inhaling Freon. It is similar to carbon monoxide in that Freon is a tasteless and mostly odorless gas; you simply don’t know that you’re breathing it in. Another common and foolish usage of Freon is for getting high. If you respect your health at all then don’t bother. Air is pretty much the only thing your lungs like to be filled with.

Q:  How often does an AC system need to get recharged?

A common error that many drivers make is thinking that they must recharge their air-conditioning system every couple of months or so. This is simply a ‘white lie’ that somebody invented to try and encourage buyers to invest in refrigerants. In fact, you only have to worry about topping up your refrigerant every couple of years. We’d recommend starting to think about recharging your system around the two-year mark. It’s pretty difficult to identify if your car has a leak. A few things you can look out for is how your defroster reacts in the winter; if it isn’t clearing fogged-up windows, this is a sign. But the number one most obvious sign that you need to top up is when your car’s air-conditioning system only blows warm air.

AC in the car
Car AC Refrigerant

Q: What refrigerant is used in cars?

Most of today’s cars use R134a refrigerant. It’s been the go-to choice for vehicles built since 1994 onward.

Q: How much does it cost to put refrigerant in your car?

If you’re having a dealership or mechanic do the job for you, it typically costs between $150 and $250. However, if you’re doing the work yourself, you’ll only have to pay for the refrigerant you use — and that costs between $20 and $80, depending on the product you choose.

Q: Can I use any refrigerant in my car?

It’s best to use R134a refrigerant in your car if it was made in 1994 or later. However, if you have an older vehicle, it’s best to use R-12 (freon).

Our Top Pick

Our pick for the best car AC refrigerant is ZeroR R134a Refrigerant. This impressive recharging product will get your car’s air cool once again, with high-quality R134a gas that’s made in the USA. It’s perfectly safe to use and store, meeting compliance requirements in all 50 states. It meets purity standards, and each canister is filled with new gas so you won’t have to deal with potential problems like rust or corrosion caused by moisture. The canister is equipped with a self-sealing valve to keep the refrigerant inside safe and secure even while it’s being stored in your garage.

Sources:

  1. Why Does Your Air Conditioning Need Recharging?, Cars
  2. Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning (MVAC) System Servicing, Epa

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