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Your car was designed with an air-conditioning system made to last the lifetime of the vehicle without needing a recharge. That being said, over the life of a vehicle it may develop a coolant leak. There is no set amount of time that freon will last in a vehicle. As long as the air is blowing cold, you don’t need to worry about charging the vehicle’s A/C system at all.
If your vehicle does develop a coolant leak, charging it really isn’t the answer either. It’ll just leak out again. The source of the leak needs to be identified, so that it can be fixed.
As the coolant leaks out, the air conditioner will cool less efficiently. Eventually, it will not work at all.
A note on freon: freon is a type of refrigerant that is rarely used in modern cars. It was used extensively in older vehicles. This article will help determine why any ac system is not blowing cold air regardless of the type of refrigerant used .
Symptoms of Freon Loss
The most obvious sign, and the reason that you’re here, is a hot interior. If your air conditioner is not blowing cold it is highly likely that you are low on coolant/Freon.
1.A/C Compressor Not Turning On
The AC compressor uses the coolant as a lubricant. When there is no longer refrigerant in the system, the vehicle often deactivates the air-conditioning system. This fail safe keeps the compressor from being destroyed by a lack of coolant.
When you turn the air conditioner on, you may have noticed that it makes a clunking sound. This sound is the compressor activating the clutch and engaging. If you don’t hear that sound, you are either so low that you’ve activated the fail safe, the compressor is out, or the serpentine belt is missing (some vehicles have the A/C use it’s own belt).
2. Frozen Compressor
If the air conditioner is leaking freon, but hasn’t lost it all, you may notice that the compressor has ice caked on to it. As the freon leaks, it is replaced with water. The water then freezes and ices up the compressor.
3. Warm Air
If your A/C system is blowing hot air, that is a very strong indication that it is leaking freon. It can also indicate that any of the other A/C system parts have failed. If the A/C system has steadily cooled less effectively, that’s a very good indication that the amount of refrigerant has gone down.
If the change in air temperature happened suddenly, it could still be a coolant leak, just a really bad one. It could also be a bad blend door, bad compressor, lost belt, or any other issue.
4. Noticeable Leaks
You may notice that when the air conditioner is running that there will be greasy little trails of a substance coming through the vents. That can be freon. Refrigerant gas leaves residue as it leaks.
Conclusion: How Long Does Refrigerant Last?
Many parts stores, and even Walmart, sell refrigerant. Topping it off may cool the vehicle for a while, but it’s not going to stop the leak.
If your A/C is blowing cold right now, it’s not going to need a recharge unless is gets a leak.