How to Add Freon to a 1997 Malibuby Michael Ryan
If you are driving your 1997 Chevrolet Malibu and notice that the A/C (air conditioning) is no longer blowing cold air, the A/C system may need to be recharged with refrigerant. The A/C system could need more freon as the result of a major leak, as caused when an A/C line is punctured, or a smaller leak that lets freon out gradually. In any case, failure to refill the system with freon will keep your A/C system from blowing cold air. There are a variety of freon refill kits that let you complete the procedure on your own.
Start the car. With the engine running, turn the A/C to the maximum fan setting. Make sure the temperature is set as low as possible and that the "AC" button on the dashboard is pressed, as this engages the system's compressor.
Locate the low-pressure line. Freon is added only to the low-pressure port on the A/C system, also called the low-side service port. It is located against the firewall, at the back of the engine compartment. It has a plastic screw-on type cap covering it.
Unscrew the cap from the low-side service port. Once removed, make sure that nothing obstructs the connection to the port.
Place the fill hose on the low-pressure port. The freon hoses available at auto parts stores include integrated pressure gauges that let you check how full the system is. Use the snap-type fitting to connect the fill hose to the port on the car. Each gauge has a marking for "full," normally in green. If the pressure is in this range, you need not add freon to your 1997 Malibu. If the pressure is below this mark, freon is needed.
Next, screw the other side of the fill hose into the top of the freon can. Tighten the metal knob on top of the can until you hear it pierce the top of the can. Next, slowly loosen the metal knob atop the can, at which point freon will enter the A/C system.
Watch the pressure gauge. When the freon pressure gauge enters the full range, tighten the metal knob on the top of the can again to stop the flow of freon.
Disconnect the fitting from the service port. With the flow of freon stopped, pull back on the fitting attached the low-side service port to release it. Keep the other end of the fill hose connected to the can of freon, otherwise the remaining freon will escape from the can.
Test the system. Get inside of your 1997 Malibu and make sure the A/C is blowing cold air. If not, there may be a significant leak in the system, or the compressor may be faulty.
- If the A/C system needs recharging, the system has a leak. Have the leak repaired.
Things You'll Need
- Freon (sold in cans, be sure to purchase R-134a, the type used by the Malibu)
- Fill kit
- Servicing auto A/C systems is potentially dangerous. If you are not confident about which is the low-pressure line, or about any other aspect of the refill procedure, take your Malibu to a qualified technician. As the engine will be running during this procedure, do not wear loose clothing--be careful to stay clear of moving or hot engine parts (fan, belts and pulleys, exhaust manifolds, etc.).
Michael Ryan is a freelance writer with professional experiences in the auto industry and academic training in music. Ryan earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Olivet College. Since college, he has been a featured speaker at music conferences at the University of Michigan and Bowling Green State University. Ryan is a published writer, with work featured on websites including eHow and CarsDirect.com.