Car Air Conditioning Refill and Recharge Cost

Air conditioning is a great way to keep the occupants of your car cool during the summer months and for most cars, you’ll find it’s cheaper and more effective than opening the windows.

However, if you’ve ever owned a car with air-con, you’ll probably know that it needs an occasional refill with a refrigerating gas.

Without this cooling gas, the device will eventually just emit air at room temperature.

This page is all about air conditioning refill/recharge costs and how much you can expect to pay.

How Often Should Air Conditioning Being Refilled/Recharged?

Your car’s manufacturer should be able to tell you how often the aircon should be recharged but the industry standard appears to be every two years.

This ensures you’ll always have cool fresh air when you need it.

What Happens If I Don’t Refill it So Frequently?

While most air con units are efficient, they do lose a little gas over time:

On average, an air conditioning system will lose 10% refrigerant a year – EZ Chill Air Con Refill (via Amazon)

If the system is allowed to run dry for too long, the seals and hoses may become brittle and are more likely to fail. This means your new gas refill will just leak out.

Bad odours and poor performance are also tell-tale signs of a system that hasn’t been recharged in a long time,

What is a Service Check or Pre-Service Check?

There are many reasons why your car’s air-con may be blowing warm air, a lack of cooling gas is just one of them.

The issue could be caused by broken hoses, failed seals or even a faulty evaporator.

The only way to know for sure is to have the system checked prior to the recharge.

This is known colloquially as a pre-service check or inspection.

How Much Does it Cost to Recharge Air Con?

Below is our updated price guide for car con recharges.

The figure is an average of the prices given to us by twelve garages in 2021:

Air con check and re-gas:£66.00

(Don’t confuse this price guide with home air conditioning prices)

Are There Any Unexpected Costs to Consider?


Replacing a seal or hose may not cost the earth but an evaporator that could be located behind the dashboard may cost a small fortune.

This is why it’s considered best practice to have the system checked before you waste money on refill gas that could leak out and disappear in minutes.

Where is the Best Place to Get My Car’s Air Conditioning Recharged?

There are plenty of local garages throughout the UK that offer air-con refill services

If you can’t find a recommendation from a friend or via a local Facebook group, head over to Halfords or Kwik Fit and check if they have a garage near you. Their prices are competitive and their service is usually very good.

How Long Does it Take to Refill a Car Air Con?

It takes around 15 – 20 minutes for a professional to check and then recharge the air con unit in a typical car.

Does Using Air Con Consume More Fuel Than Opening The Windows?

As you’re probably aware, opening the car windows creates more drag on the car. To maintain the desired speed, more throttle is required and this consumes more fuel, which is bad for the environment.

Did you know that opening all the windows in a car can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%?

The latest research suggests that air-con increases fuel burn between 5% and 10% in a typical car.

The best option is to close the windows and switch off the air-con and only use the fan to circulate the air.

If that isn’t practical, your best option is to use the air-con rather than opening the windows.

Read How Stuff Work’s guide to air conditioning verses opening the windows

What Happens If I Never Refill The Air Con?

Many car drivers choose not to refill/recharge their air con at all.

This is fine if you never use it but should you switch it on after a prolonged period where it hasn’t been in operation, you may notice:

  • Bad odours from the vents.
  • Rattles or whistling noises.
  • That the refrigerant has escaped and is no longer providing cool air.
  • The seals are brittle, damaged or broken due to the lack of lubrication and need to be replaced before the air con unit can be filled with new gas.

In general, if you use the air-con, even only occasionally, you should have the unit refilled roughly every two years.

Can Car Air Conditioning Be Refilled DIY?

Sure, there are plenty of how-to videos on YouTube and stores such as Halfords and Amazon sell the refrigerant.

The DIY option is great for those of you that:

  • Are familiar with the basics of car maintenance.
  • Are confident the air con isn’t leaking gas due to failed seals or other parts.
  • Want to save a little money by going DIY.

The good news is that one canister is enough to top up most cars.

We recommend this product should you wish to go down the DIY route:

Car air con top-up

The Best Cooling Fans You Can Buy

We’ve also researched the best cooling fans and units for keeping cool at home, in the office and on the move.

See the best cooling fans you can buy here.

This guide to car air con costs was written by and was last updated in May 2021.

You’ll find many more cost guides in our motoring corner where we delve into the costs of car ownership and maintenance.

Visit our Motoring Corner today.

Author - Danny Woodley
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