Another failed DIY attempt

Our car’s A/C has been blowing warm air since the end of last summer. We put up with it for three main reasons. First, we don’t drive as much as most people, so it was more feasible. Second, we were saving for the house and didn’t want to divert money to something that we could crack windows for. Third, and more saliently, we had way too much going on for me to call around to auto shops and get a good price.

Also, of course, we both hate the idea of sitting around a repair shop indefinitely.

But let’s just go with the part where we were nobly saving money over our own physical comfort. I like that one better.

Now, though, summer is gearing up, and we have some money put aside for car repair bills. Plus, his parents are still adjusting to the heat. Combined, this means we really need to get some refrigerant in our A/C system.

I searched online to find out how much freon costs. It turns out that, since  our car is newer, it doesn’t use freon. It uses R-134a, which means we could do it ourselves.

There are several DIY articles on how to recharge your car’s refrigerant yourself, and the process isn’t all that complex. Recharge kits are only about $55 at AutoZone, which includes a pressure gauge.

And, if you buy at AutoZone, there’s usually someone there to walk you through the steps. Also, AutoZone is on Mr. Rebates, so I got 5% cash back.

Unfortunately, it turns out our low-pressure port — which you need to hook the pressure gauge and refrigerant into — is not easily accessible. The guy at AutoZone told us we’d need to go home and take up a bar that was in the way.

So, on Friday, I trotted out to the car with an assortment of wrenches. Several minutes later, I came to the conclusion that those bolts were NOT going to move under my volition.

I muttered several colorful words, put the wrenches back in the toolbox, and went to look up auto repair shops.

I really would have liked to be able to do the job myself. Well, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the actual task, but the feeling of accomplishment — both having been independent and having saved some bucks — would have been nice.

But you have to accept your limits in this world. Especially limits that come from immovable bolts in a car where things aren’t in convenient, accessible spots.

Such is life.

I was able to find a place that quoted me about $70-110 — that’s include dye to check for a leak, the freon, everything. Of course, it’ll be more if there is a leak, but that’s still starting around $50 lower than all the other places I called.

So, in the end, I did save some money. Just not the way I had hoped. And, hey, maybe some of you (who have cars that are laid out more traditionally) will be able to save yourself some hassle when your A/C runs low.


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