6 Symptoms of Low Freon In Your Car

Published: March 31, 2022
Last updated: March 29, 2023

The importance of identifying the symptoms of low Freon in cars cannot be overstated. These symptoms are important since Freon plays a key role in your car's air conditioning system. Air conditioning systems in cars operate largely using a refrigerant (Freon). How is this possible? The AC unit uses a compressor to compress car Freon, which raises its pressure and temperature. As hot Freon moves through coils in an AC unit, its temperature lowers and becomes liquid.

Afterward, the liquid Freon passes through an expansion valve, where it evaporates and becomes cold gas. The Freon then passes through a group of coils that absorb the heat and cool your car's cabin. A car's air conditioning system relies heavily on Freon, so you need to know how to tell if Freon is low in the system.

Symptoms of Low Freon in Car

Your car's air conditioner will stop working when the car Freon level drops. But this isn't the only thing that happens. The AC clutch cannot engage since there is insufficient Freon to pressurize the compressor. This is one of the less obvious symptoms. You will also notice other symptoms of low refrigerant in your car. We have listed some of them below.

  • Loss of Refrigerant while driving
  • Obvious leaks
  • Low gauge reading
  • Sight glass
  • Ac not blowing cold air
  • Clutch not engaging

Loss Of Refrigerant While Driving

A sudden drop in the temperature of your car's AC vents could result from a leak in one of the seals, hoses, or fittings caused by pressurized Freon. In this scenario, there will be emissions in the form of a white cloud from the area where the leak occurs. In some instances, you might also hear a hissing sound. In addition, you might also smell Freon inside the car. 

Obvious Leaks 

Visible leaks of Freon often diagnose low Freon levels in your car. Freon looks like grease in its liquid state, but it contains a bit of oil that allows it to lubricate the compressor. If you suspect your car's air conditioning system is leaking Freon, check its various components. Ensure to inspect the pressure lines, the service ports, the front shaft, the accumulator, the condenser, and all the fittings connecting to the compressor. If these components develop a film or liquid stream, you may have a Freon leak. To be certain, wipe off this film or stream, and if it appears again, your vehicle most likely has a Freon leak or is low on Freon. 

Low Gauge Readings

Getting a reading of the car's air conditioner pressure is a good way to check the freon level in a car. You can check the freon in your car using a gauge once you know how to check it. The low- and high-service ports of the AC manifold gauge should be connected. Use a quick-release fitting to connect the red gauge hose to the service port on the high side of the gauge. Ensure that the blue gauge hose is connected to the low-side service port. Turn on the red and blue gauge dials when the engine and air conditioning are off to get the correct readings. You should get an air pressure reading between 80 and 105 psi. The AC should read around 200 to 350 psi on the high side and 25 to 35 psi on the low side if you take the same readings with the AC set to the highest setting. You should check your car's readings if they are lower than these.

Sight Glass

Your car's sight glass (if it has one) can also tell you whether it is low on Freon. The viewer can detect Freon's movement through the high-pressure line by looking at this component. A clear fluid will flow through the line if the Freon is at its optimal level. The presence of bubbles indicates low Freon levels. There is no Freon in your car if you do not see any movement.

AC Is Not Blowing Cold Air

If you set the car AC to cold or hot, it will blow cold or hot air, depending on the Freon levels. The AC blows warm or hot air when you set it to blow cold air is one of the clearest signs of low Freon levels in your car. Due to the lack of Freon, the system is not pressurized and is not circulated.

Clutch Not Engaging

The compressor of your car gets pressurized when the A/C clutch is engaged. Every time you turn on the air conditioning in your car, you should hear a clicking sound. When the AC clutch engages, the clicking sound is heard. A/C clutches detect the amount of Freon in the system. Whenever it cannot engage, the Freon level is very low. The compressor may not be able to compress air because of low refrigerant levels.

Are you interested in learning more about cars and their maintenance? Head over to the KeepDriving website and check out our blog post on the seven best tricks to sell your car from home.

Sales Development Lead Scott spearheaded a collective blog site before expanding his automotive knowledge and joining the team. Now he leads our team of experts by building ideas on our Sales Development department.
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