There are essentially three levels of air conditioning repair, and even the first level gives us pause. If your A/C is on the fritz, your local auto parts store will gladly sell you a DIY refrigerant top-off kit – that’s level one. But do you really want to get up close and personal with a hazardous material if you’ve never done so before? For some light DIYers, the buck’s going to stop right there.
Suppose you’re okay with that, though, and you find that the top-off isn’t a lasting solution. Next up is the evacuate-and-recharge procedure, which requires removing any existing refrigerant before charging the system back to factory specs. Got a vacuum pump handy for the removal? If not, you’re looking at $200 or more just for the pump. Finally, your poor A/C performance is almost certainly related to a leak or malfunction within the system, which could very well require dismantling the dashboard to access. Even seasoned DIY’ers are often reluctant to tackle that kind of job.
Here’s a better idea: get a comprehensive diagnosis from your shop, often provided for free or a nominal fee, and then decide whether it makes sense to go this one alone. Nine times out of 10, you’ll be better off paying that shop to do the job right.