How to most affordably re-charge our Corolla's air conditioner?
May 3, 2013 4:22 AM   Subscribe

DH says the dealer charges too much but we haven't a clue where else to try. It's an older car and we've gone to the dealer for most things.
posted by R2WeTwo to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Best answer: Where are you? I asked a question a few weeks ago about how to get the brakes on my older Rav4 replaced for cheap. I, too, had always gone to a dealership and thought they were charging me too much.

MeFi gave me some great local mechanic recommendations.
posted by phunniemee at 4:28 AM on May 3, 2013

Best answer: I found a local guy through the Car Talk Mechanics Files who charges pennies on the dollar vs. what I used to pay at the dealer. Never would have known about him otherwise.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:41 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If it's just a matter of adding more refrigerant and your car uses R-134a you can get a can or two and do it yourself for probably $30-40 or so.

It's pretty easy to do and if you bought the stuff at an auto parts store like Advance or O'Reilly they'd probably do it for you or at least get you started.
posted by Gev at 5:04 AM on May 3, 2013

Best answer: Do you plan to keep this car for a while longer? If so, I'd take to any non-dealer mechanic that comes recommended via friends, family, Mefi whatever and have the AC system tested for leaks first. There is no use pumping $25 cans of refrigerant into it if it's just going to leak out somewhere. Testing and adding some coolant shouldn't cost more than about $100, if there is nothing wrong with it.

If you are just trying to bandaid the car through one more summer then just refill the coolant. If you can pump up a bike tire you can add coolant to your car's AC system.
posted by COD at 5:38 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If the A/C really just needs to be charged, buy a can of R-134a from AutoZone for $40. If you.can't figure out how to use it from the instructions on the can, ask the guys that work there if they can come out and give you a hand.
posted by rancidchickn at 6:20 AM on May 3, 2013

Best answer: Is it an older car, like 1990, or an older car, like 2005? A/C systems changed the refrigerant used, so if it really is an Old Car, the old-style refrigerant is pricey as hell.

That said, going to the dealership for most things (besides warranty) is wasting money. Ask your friends for mechanic recommendations.
posted by notsnot at 6:44 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We're in Kalamazoo, MI. Zip code is 49009. I'll check online for the Car Talk recs for the future. She's a 1999 so we should be able to do it ourselves. So glad I asked!
posted by R2WeTwo at 8:03 AM on May 3, 2013

Best answer: I don't know how national the sales are at Big Lots, but my Big Lots had cans of r-134a on sale for $8 this week. They also had the refill hose (don't remember the price on that since I already have one).
posted by everybody polka at 3:43 PM on May 3, 2013

Response by poster: If anyone comes to this on a search it is SO easy to do this yourself, as responders said. We're no longer suffering hot drives and DH feels very accomplished every time he turns on the A/C.
posted by R2WeTwo at 7:21 AM on June 2, 2013

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