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It’s a boiling hot summer’s day and you’re heading out in your vehicle. Practically running the last couple of feet to your car, you quickly turn the keys and expect that life-saving, icy cold air-conditioning to slap you in the face, only to be met with the disappointing alternative of icky, hot air. We’ve all been there.
Your car’s air conditioning is something you expect to work forever until it doesn’t. Like most other luxuries in life, having a reliable air-conditioning system, unfortunately, requires maintenance. However, upkeep can become both cheaper and easier if you select the right refrigerant for the job at hand.
Feeling like you don’t know where to start? Not to worry, we’ve done all the tricky work for you. Outlined below are the best car AC refrigerants available on today’s market which guarantee to leave you shivering with delight after turning on your air-conditioning.
The Best Car AC Refrigerant
First up is DuPont’s five-star can. Many top mechanics deem this AC refrigerant to be the best of the bunch. For starters, it’s affordable; several customers went from paying almost 15 dollars per can at their local convenience stores to then getting three for just over 20. You’ll be guaranteed to get ice-cold results for years to come, as each can holds a whopping 12 ounces of liquid.
This Freon is also very easy to use with the connected hose. What’s more, it comes equipped with a pressure gauge on the refrigerant. This nifty device keeps you from having to guess how much of the coolant you’ve already diffused into your car’s AC compressor. Finally, this Freon can be used to retrofit old R12 systems. It’s truly got it all.
Warning: Those who call the Golden State home, this product is not legal in California.
Large quantity provided with 12 liquid ounces
Simple to use with a hose
Pressure gauge on the refrigerant shows how much coolant has been distributed into the car air conditioning compressor
Fits all vehicles from 1994-2010
Can be used to retrofit R12 systems and recharge R134 systems
- Weight15.8 oz
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 Interdynamics EZ Chill Refrigerant. Everything you will ever need to fix up your A/C is included with purchase, 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 have specifically manufactured a fluid containing 3 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.
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
- Weight3.2 lbs
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 12 pack of refrigerant. These refrigerants cost no more than pennies when bought in abundance.
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.
Warning – Cannot be shipped to California
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
- Weight9 lbs
DuPont’s no-nonsense refrigerant sends out a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of vibe, which we absolutely love. This multi-purpose refrigerant which can be used for some commercial refrigeration as well as for vehicles and home appliances. Loyal customers state that the success of the product is due the lack of oil and sealers to mess things up.
This Freon is classified as a non-ozone depleting product and contains no added toxic substances to preserve purity levels. Also, if you want to retrofit an R12 system then this USA product will do the job. If you already have the tools and want a product without all the bells and whistles then DuPont’s Freon is for you.
Can be used to retrofit R12 mobile air conditioning systems and recharge R134 systems
Protects the environment (non-ozone depleting product)
No oil or dye added
Compatible with all vehicles from 1994-2010 and even compatible with most vehicles after 2010
Complies with AHRI-700 and SAE J2776 Purity Standards
- Weight15.8 oz
Any vintage car lovers out there? We can confirm that the rumors are true; REDTEK has finally designed a product which saves the pricey hassle of converting from the old R12 systems without destroying the environment. This fantastic solution works for beauties as old as the 1966 Ford Mustang and the 1987 Nissan Pathfinder. What’s more, this product is easy to use thanks to the installation hose and gauge which come with the purchase.
We know what you’re thinking, how environmentally friendly can this product be considering its adaptability? This refrigerant has been specifically manufactured to include fluids that are non-ozone depleting. Now you can finally drive your classic car around in the summer without sweating buckets.
Refrigerant can be used in pre-1994 vehicles that comply with the US EPA Snap Law
100% natural organic refrigerant takes care of the environment thanks to specifically designed hydrocarbon fluids
An installation hose with gauge is included with purchase for easy use
Offers improved cooling properties, performance, and energy efficiency
- Weight4 lbs
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?
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
- Weight15 oz
Let’s face it, at least once in our lives, most of us have been betrayed by a refrigerant which leaves our cars smelling like rotten eggs. Enviro-Safe specifically selects its elements to prevent any unwanted chemical reactions like this from happening. This refrigerant comes with a guarantee that it’s completely safe for the environment when used in accordance with instructions.
This product is an industrial R134a, which means that the six ounces of product you receive is equivalent to sixteen ounces of non-industrialized R-134a. What’s more, this refrigerant saves up to 40% energy, as the industrial product allows a system to operate with less head pressure. Think of the money you’ll save! And if you are still aren’t completely convinced, who doesn’t love the packaging with a snowman on the front?
A product is equal to 16oz of R-134a
Compatible with the majority of refrigerant oils
Product consistency is upheld by computer blending to within 1/4 of 1% by a major American petrochemical company
Enviro-Safe’s product is highly versatile and can be used in vans and dual air systems
Five degrees colder than normal refrigerants
- Weight8 oz
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.
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)
- Weight2.1. lbs
Gone are the days of fumbling around your vehicle’s AC system with nothing but a tiny UV light searching for leaks for hours on end. FJC’s top-quality refrigerant combined with UV lighting makes it so much easier to identify and fix a leak. The purchase even includes two dyes; a light green dye for daylight visibility and a fluorescent dye which shows up as orange under UV light.
Before using the dye, vigorously shake the can or turn it upside down near the end of the charging process. This is because the dye is oily and could potentially add more oil into the system if not treated properly. Don’t worry, this all sounds pretty complicated, but we promise that this product is both easy-to-use and works a treat!
Top Tip: Once applied, the dye will not dissipate by itself. You must afterward clean the dye off from where the leak is located.
Leak detection UV dye helps identify leaks for quicker repair and pinpoint future leaks if they occur
Ester and PAG oil compatible (you must flush out the system before charging with R134a if you have since converted from an R22 system)
Sealed lid maintains durability
An affordable 10.5 ounces of Freon half the price than those available in hardware stores
- Weight1 lb
If you’re a Prius owner, then listen up. We’re sure you’ve heard horror stories of an expensive compressor’s being fried after being subjected to your average refrigerant. This is believed to be the only Freon that is 100% safe for hybrid cars with an electric AC compressor. It’s no wonder the sales it produces are sky-high.
The ten ounces of refrigerant bought will go a long way, as a hybrid car doesn’t need much to operate. As well as being both reliable and affordable, this refrigerant will restore any lost oil and substantially boost your vehicle’s cooling system. Get this for your hybrid vehicle fast so summer road trips can go back to being enjoyable.
Top Tip: We’d advise buying the hose and gauge recommended alongside the refrigerant.
Safe to use on all A/C compressors and hybrid vehicle A/C systems
Guaranteed to improve dielectric performance of older electrically-powered systems
10 ounces of refrigerant will be more than enough to use multiple times on a hybrid car’s AC
Restores lost oil and revitalize the cooling system
- Weight12.8 oz
Best Car AC Refrigerants Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Consider When Buying a Car AC Refrigerant
Before buying an AC Refrigerant, there is a list of steps you need to mentally check off before making the purchase. Below is a list of questions you need to ask yourself before making your choice:
- 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 refrigerant in bulk, such as Johnsen's economical 12 pack of R-134a.
- 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?
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!
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.
Best Car AC Refrigerants FAQ:
Q: What is a Car AC Refrigerant?
A: 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?
A: 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: 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.
Our Top Pick
Our top choice has to be DuPont's R-134a Suva A/C Automotive Refrigerant. The company has had over 200 years to develop and perfect their refrigerants, and their commitment to perfection is exhibited in our chosen product. This refrigerant is additive-free, equipped with a small gauge and goes a long way. It can be used to retrofit R12 systems and recharge R134 systems. It has all you'll ever want in a refrigerant: simple to use, cost-effective and most importantly, freezing cold. Get this five-star product today in preparation for your upcoming summer road trips and your family and friends will thank you for it.