When the summer heat hits and your air conditioner starts blowing only hot air, your instinct may be to reach for a quick fix. In this blog post, Matthews Tire Fond du Lac Manager Allen Coburn talks about why buying an inexpensive refrigerant kit is the worst thing you can do for your vehicle, and how to save yourself thousands by bringing your vehicle in to Matthews Tire.

When your A/C stops working

“An A/C system that’s not working right is one of the most common issues that Matthews Tire technicians see in the spring and summer, typically with older cars,” Allen says.

Maybe your A/C was working great last summer, but when you cranked it up this year as those first warm days hit, it only sent out hot air. When that happens, “most people think the system is ‘low on charge’ and believe they need to add refrigerant, or they tell their kids or grandkids that’s what they need to do,” Allen says.

A vehicle owner may decide to visit a discount store or automotive department to find a simple-looking A/C charge kit in a can. “It’s marketed as very easy, because it is—so they grab the can, they connect it, follow the directions, and boom, they ruin their system,” Allen says.

Why the DIY kits don’t work

While these kits will refill your system, it also contains an additive that’s a sealant. “The problem with that is it often seals up equipment that you attach to it,” Allen says. “So if we connect our machine and evacuate a system that has that sealant in it, it destroys our machinery.”

“So, what a vehicle owner has done is removed the ability to have their car serviced at any shop—unless they replace every single component in their A/C system. It’s a cost that will run into the thousands,” Allen says.

If your A/C is only blowing hot air, take it in to the experts at Matthews Tire. “When someone comes in and wants to have an A/C service done, we’ll first run it to verify that it’s only blowing warm air,” Allen says. “Then we’ll hook it to a tester kit to look for any sealant in the system, and we’ll flag it right away if it’s present.”

Fixing the A/C

When there’s no sealant present and the system checks out fine, “then we can hook our machine to it,” Allen says. “We start by basically evacuating the system to see how much chemical is left in, because if it’s low, then we’ve possibly got a leak, or if it’s full, then we know there might be a hard component that might be a problem.

An A/C service package at Matthews Tire starts at $197.99—far less expensive than replacing all the components in your A/C system.

Even if you’re generally skilled at maintaining your car, you shouldn’t attempt to fix the A/C system yourself. The refrigerant within the A/C system is highly regulated and dangerous. “If you start taking the components off, then you let that gas into the atmosphere, and that’s against the law,” Allen says. “You have to be certified to even operate the machinery.”

Also, it is not safe to breathe the refrigerant—it can damage your lungs, and if the damage is severe enough, it can kill you. “It’s a very dangerous chemical.”


Bottom line, “when it comes to your vehicle’s A/C, it’s not a do-it-yourself kind of job,” Allen says.

A seemingly simple fix-in-a-can may end up causing you a great deal of grief later on, and fixing the system yourself is not a repair you should attempt.

“Starting with it being illegal to release the coolant into the atmosphere—and the harm in breathing the fumes—it’s not something you want to take on yourself,” Allen says. “Instead, bring it in and let our technicians help you.”

Need service?    

Schedule a service appointment online now!