How to Remove Refrigerant From Car AC? (Solved)

A faulty AC in your car could make you suffer from heat and hot air. Also, it might cause some damage to your car’s engine. Most of the time, the issue can be noticed in the car AC’s refrigerant. So, you need to learn how to remove refrigerant from car AC.

And, the process isn’t difficult. You need to find the low-pressure service port in the first place. After that, you have to start the recovery machine, let it run, and remove the refrigerants properly. Finally, disconnect the recovery machine.

But we request you not start removing the refrigerants without knowing the detailed steps. It’s because there are some crucial factors you must know for doing the job efficiently.

So, please, spend a few minutes and go through the whole article to know how you can remove refrigerant from car AC yourself.

Let’s get started!

An Overview of Car Refrigerants

If you’re one of those who use the word ‘Freon’ as a synonym for the word refrigerant, you’ll find this section helpful. Freon is just one of the non-combustible gases or refrigerants that are used in different air conditioning applications including car AC.

Speaking of which, there are mainly 3 types of refrigerants that are used in car ACs. Below are the details:

  • Freon (R-12): It was highly available at a time because most automotive air conditioning systems used to have this gas. But Freon is extremely toxic and it harms the ozone layer. For this, its use has been reduced than before.
  • Tetrafluoroethane (R-134a): R-134a is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) that has a lower effect on the ozone layer. It’s mainly found in modern automotive air conditioning systems.
  • 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropene (R-1234yf): It’s a comparatively newer HFO refrigerant and gradually it’s becoming popular. It’s the most environmentally-friendly option compared to the previous two options. Also, R-1234yf has a lower impact on the ozone layer.

So, yes, it’s not only Freon. Your vehicle might have a different type of refrigerant so you must recharge accordingly. If you use the wrong type of refrigerant that’s not meant for your vehicle, you just increase the chance of more damage to the air conditioning system.

How does a Refrigerant work in a car AC?

Once you’re introduced to the different types of car refrigerants, here’s how they work.

Refrigerants are non-combustible gases that help the air conditioner to keep supplying cold air. If you want to know the full story of a refrigerant in your car, we’ll be using some technical terms (boredom alert!).

An evaporation process always goes through in your car; through which the refrigerant turns into liquid to gas in a cyclic manner. The air conditioning system has a compressor that compresses the refrigerant gas and turns it into liquid.

After that, the liquid goes through an expansion valve and in the meantime, the liquid evaporates and reaches the gaseous level again.

So, without the refrigerant, the air conditioning system cannot cool the air. To keep things right, the air conditioning system maintains the right temperature through the AC vents and it also helps to prevent the frosting of glass in your car.

If there are issues like leaks in the refrigerant, damaged filters, or a faulty refrigerant, your car’s AC system will malfunction and you must remove the refrigerant to diagnose the issue.

We’ll show you the right way of recharging the refrigerant in this article. But be careful not to overcharge your car AC because it can cause bigger damage to your car.

Steps to remove Refrigerant from AC system

This method of removing refrigerants from car AC systems requires a recovery machine. So, make sure you collect one before getting started with the steps below.

Step 0: Take Safety Precautions

First off, make sure you take safety glasses and gloves for the protection of your eyes and hands respectively. As we said, refrigerants are toxic gases so you must not harm your skin or respiratory system while working with them.

Step 1: Find the low-pressure port

Attach the recovery machine’s service hoses to the service ports of your car’s AC system. Once connected, you need to find the low-pressure service port in the car.

To find it, follow the line assembly and where the hoses are headed to. The line assembly should start from the back of the AC’s compressor to the cylinder of your car.

The low-pressure point is usually located on the compressor’s back and on the low-pressure line.

While following the process, you might encounter two service lines and get confused. To clarify, one is the low-pressure line and the other option is the high-pressure line.

Step 2: Run the recovery machine

Once you’ve successfully located the low-pressure service point and attached the recovery machine to the AC’s service port, it’s time for the refrigerant recovery machine’s work.

It’s simple though. You need to remove all the refrigerant from the AC system. And, to do so, just attach the Schroeder valves of your recovery machine to the AC system. That’s it; you’ll notice how it creates a vacuum and pulls out all the refrigerants from the car AC system.

When the recovery machine keeps running, it removes the refrigerant vapor from the AC system throughout the time. Also, the recovery machine turns all the liquid cooling substances into vapor.

Once the refrigerant is out of the internal pressure, the recovery machine will automatically shut off as soon as the system is completely empty. But still, you should keep the recovery machine running for a little while.

 It will allow the machine to restart and start pulling a vacuum automatically.

Step 3: Remove the recovery machine

Now that you’ve successfully removed the refrigerant from the AC of your car, you need to remove and disconnect the AC recovery machine.

But before that, you must close the server hose valves or the compressor can get damaged. If the compressor is damaged, the air conditioning system will be unable to blow air when your car is running or in no use.

Can you remove the Refrigerant from car without a machine?

Well, you can but it’s highly discouraged to remove car refrigerants without a recovery machine.

Since an AC recovery machine can cost you at least 100 US dollars, you may think about working without the machine. But you should not do so because while removing the gases, there are some excess refrigerants left in the AC system. And the residue is handled by a recovery machine.

The excess refrigerant will not be removed without the machine. If it’s not removed efficiently, the toxic gases can come out and mix with the environmental air which you never want.

For this, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) won’t allow you to use any other tools other than a recovery machine cause they cannot handle the toxic substances released while removing the refrigerant.

So, it’s a must to use a recovery machine for the process.

Things to consider while removing the refrigerant from the car AC

Although we’ve covered the complete and correct procedure of removing refrigerants from a car’s air conditioning system, there are a few things you should be careful of.

  • Do not detach any hose as long as there is any refrigerant left in the AC system since the gases are harmful to your health and the environment. The chemicals are highly responsible for increasing greenhouse gases.
  • It’s a must to dispose of the refrigerants carefully because releasing them into the air is illegal in some states.
  • Make sure you keep the thermostat of your car off throughout the process so it can’t increase the temperature inside.
  • Some states will require EPA certification if you want to release refrigerants from car AC systems. So, keep this in mind.

Cost to remove a Refrigerant from the car’s AC

Well, removing the refrigerant won’t cost you much. It will merely save you like 100 US dollars to 300 US dollars including the labor. Generally, it depends on the automobile mechanic calculating the time and effort they would put on to remove the refrigerant.

The procedure of removing it would take only half an hour to a maximum of an hour. The cost may increase if you have plans to replace your refrigerant with an AC recovery machine of your own. There are plenty of recovery machines out there. 

The Inficon refrigerant recovery machine that comes with a 1 HorsePower rating and 550 PSI rating can be an ideal choice for beginners like you. Although it’s not like the 100 US dollars recovery machine we mentioned earlier. It could cost you about 400 US dollars.

Steps to remove Refrigerant from AC system Infographic

Final Words

Maybe in the future, you need to remove your refrigerant from your car’s AC system, but you can’t afford to go to a repair shop. You might not be able to afford a recovery machine, but you can use a refrigerant cylinder while taking enough risks.

But if you feel like you are not capable of doing it on your own, try to learn it from an automobile mechanic. Learn while watching them fixing your AC system, this way they won’t be bothered by you. It’s at least better than you damaging your car’s other components unintentionally, right?

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William Baldwin

This Is William Baldwin, The Founder & Managing Editor of this website. Me and my team share automotive tips, tricks, and news

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at with a passion for the automotive industry.