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How to Remove Refrigerant from Car AC? – 3 DIY Methods

How to Remove Refrigerant from Car AC
Last Updated on Aug 16, 2023 By Lillian Kazmierczak

It feels great on a hot and humid summer day to turn on your car’s AC. You turn it on, hear the fan running, and the air is hot? When the freon in your AC system is bad, it will need to be recycled before it can continue to cool your car.

Here we will look at three methods to remove the refrigerant from your car and share some safety tips to keep you safe.

A few words about freon/refrigerant

Most people know refrigerant by the trademarked name Freon. But no matter what refrigerant you use, there are a few things you need to know before you do anything with it.

Freon/refrigerant is highly toxic. Odorless, colorless, and non-flammable, it will burn you if it gets on your skin and in your eyes and is very dangerous if you inhale it.

Because of the chemicals in refrigerants, it is illegal to release them into the air. A recovery system is the safest way to remove the refrigerant. If you do not have a recovery system or experience removing refrigerant, it may be best to have a mechanic do this for you.

How to Remove Refrigerant From Car AC?

Step 1: Collect your tools

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Refrigerant recovery machine

Step 2: Find the low-pressure port

Your car has two service points for your system, low-and high-pressure ports. You are using the low-pressure service port for refrigerant recycling. Open the car’s hood. You want to use your hand to follow the pipe coming off the compressor. It will be located against the firewall or near the AC compressor. You should be able to see a removable plastic cap that is either black or blue.

Step 3: Hook up the machine and begin

Once you locate the low-pressure port, move the recovery machine close enough to the car to be easily attached. Connect the low-pressure port to the recovery system, then turn the machine on.

It will take some time to turn your liquid coolant into vapor. It does this by easing the pressure and removing the non-condensable gases and vapor from the AC system. The recovery machine will turn itself off once the process is completed.

If the pressure increases in the AC system, the machine will restart itself and remove any vacuum until the system is rebalanced for 10 – 15 minutes.

Step 4: Unhook the machine

To make sure you don’t damage the compressor unit, turn off the compressor once the machine reaches vacuum on the low-pressure port. Then close the valves for the service hoses.

How to Remove Refrigerant From Car AC With Vacuum Pump?

Step 1: Use the right tools

  • Vacuum pump
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Gauge set

Step 2: Set up the gauges

Using the gauge set, attach the yellow hose to the vacuum pump. Then connect the red gauge to the high-pressure port (this port is usually the higher of the two ports) and the blue gauge to the low-pressure port.

If the hoses are not tight enough, you will lose the vacuum pressure.

Step 3: Open the manifolds

Once everything seals tightly, open the manifold valves. The gauges should show no pressure while the manifolds are closed.

Step 4: Opening the gauge valves

You will need to open the side gauge valve. If you don’t know the direction to open the valve, check your owner’s manual for the information. Once you have the info, open the valves on each gauge so the vacuum can remove the air from the system.

Step 5: Let the vacuum do its job

The vacuum will need to reach a measurement of 500 microns to remove all the air out of your AC system. This generally takes about 15 minutes to half an hour, but every car is different. Using the micron measurement is the best way to gauge when to turn off the vacuum

Step 6: Closing the vacuum

Shut the low-pressure valve and maintain the vacuum for 15 minutes. Now shut the low-pressure gauge and allow it to maintain the vacuum for another 15 minutes.

Check the pump for leaks during this time. If you find one, you will have to replace the part before using it again.

Step 7: Shut down the pump

Once the pump has maintained the vacuum for the time needed, switch the pump off. However, do not disconnect the vacuum until the suction is entirely disengaged.

Step: 8: Removing the vacuum

You can unattach the hoses once the suction disengages, starting with the pump hose. Once everything is disconnected, start the car and run the AC to ensure the air is running cold.

How to Remove Refrigerant From Car AC Without a Recovery Machine?

Step 1: Needed tools

  • Recovery tank
  • Manifold gauge
  • Goggles
  • Gloves

Step 2: Set up the recovery tank

Place an inline filter on the input of the recovery tank, put the recovery tanks in the vacuum, or be sure to evacuate the tank. You won’t have to vacate the tank if you use the same refrigerant currently in the tank but don’t forget to leave room in the tank for more refrigerant.

Step 3: Place your hoses

Connect the low and high-pressure hoses on the AC system and the manifold gauge. Attach the low side on the recovery tank (blue side) to the yellow service hose.

Step 4: Turn the AC on

Start the compressor by turning on the AC in the car. Next, open the low-side valve on the recovery tank and the high-side manifold gauge, letting the refrigerant enter the tank.

Step 5: Finishing the job

When the manifold gauge pressure no longer drops, the compressor has pushed in all the coolant; the AC is complete. Disconnect the lines and check the AC for cool air.

Things to know before you remove refrigerant from your car

  • Disconnecting hoses when there is freon in the AC system increases greenhouse gases
  • It is illegal to release freon into the air in most states and some countries
  • An EPA Certification is a must to release freon in many governments

Safety tips for refrigerant removal

  • During the winter months, open the vacuum pump’s intake ports so the pump can get to its normal running speed. Once achieved, close it.
  • The location of the low-pressure service port varies in each vehicle. Use the owner’s manual to find the port for your car.
  • Make sure the oil level in the vacuum pump is at the fill line to avoid burning up the vacuum engine before starting.


1. What will happen if I overfill my refrigerant?

Ans. You will have to remove the excess refrigerant to the correct level so you don’t overcharge the AC.

2. Is reusing recovered refrigerant a good idea?

Ans.  You can recycle refrigerants by removing dirt and oil at a recycling center. However, the recycled refrigerant can only be used in the system it was taken from.

3. Can I use the same refrigerant in my car and house?

Ans. No, the chemicals used in each make them incompatible. Using them together could be catastrophic.

About the author

Lillian Kazmierczak

As far as I can remember, I would say I have been a car nut for my whole life. My father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. This gave me the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and get my hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

A great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity, my deep passion lies in older models that I believe have a flair that takes me back to my childhood! I also love their extraordinary durability and reliability when compared to today’s modern models.

When not out taking a ride, I enjoy socializing with fellow motorheads online and consuming any car facts and figures I can get my mind on!

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