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How to Add Refrigerant to a Chrysler Van

by Richard Ristow

Your Chrysler van will take either R12 or R134a refrigerant. As of 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency has actively phased R12 out of usage due to science having proved its detrimental effects on the environment.. If your Chrysler van came out in 1984 or later, it will take R134a refrigerant. No matter the model-year of your van and the type of refrigerant you need, recharging your Chrysler van's air conditioning is an easy task you can do at home. Both R12 and R134a refilling kits are widely available.The refilling process is the same for both.

Release your Chrysler van's hood and prop it open over the engine. Locate within the engine a set of aluminum tubes for the air conditioning. On these tubes, you will find both a high and a low side connector. The high side connection is for pressurizing the system. For this task, it is irrelevant. Your refilling kit's hose will not fit the connection anyway. Remove the threaded cover from the low side connector.

Attach your R12 or R134a kit to the low side connector. If you have to assemble the kit first, exercise care with the handle atop the canister. If you turn it too far down, you will release the refrigerant.

Lay the kit down, but be careful where. The kit needs to be away from anything that will shift or move once the van's engine is running.

Leave the kit for a moment. Walk a full circle around the van, opening all the doors. This is essential. During the refilling process, you do not want the air conditioning to accidentally turn itself off.

Start the Chrysler's engine. Allow the engine to idle, so the engine can warm to its usual running temperature.

Switch the van's air conditioning on. Set the temperature for the coldest degree possible. Also, set the blower on its most forceful setting.

Stick a thermometer into one of the Van's A/C vents and watch for it to stop dropping. When it will not drop any further, the system will have cooled to ts lowest level. The lowest level within the system depends on how much refrigerant you have left in the system. When the air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it will work correctly, but the air coming out will not be refrigerated. Record the temperature on the thermometer, once it has stabilized, for comparison later.

Remove the thermometer and exit the van. Return to the engine compartment, and place the thermometer into van's central air conditioning duct.

Turn the handle atop the refilling kit. Release the R12 or R134a into the system. After 30 seconds, turn the handle atop the kit upwards. This will shut off the refrigerant's flow. It will allow the system to stabilize, and you can also monitor the kit's gauges. You should allow at least a minute to elapse before sending more refrigerant into the Chrysler van's air conditioning. By waiting, you allow the recently added refrigerant to circulate within the system.

Keep an eye on the thermometer you left in the air conditioning's central duct. Once the temperature drops to 40 degrees, remove the thermometer. 40 degrees is the standard temperature of a fully charged air conditioner.

Turn the handle atop the canister and close off the connection. Remove the kit's hose from the low side port. Turn off all running components. Shut all the doors and the hood over the engine.

Tip

  • Store leftover refrigerant in a dark storage space. Store the canister upright, and do not disassemble the kit. Most importantly, do not empty the canister by discharging the refrigerant into the atmosphere.

Warning

  • Both R12 and R134a are pressurized gasses. Wear safety goggles while refilling the system. The refrigerant may become too cold to hold. Wear gloves, and wrap the canister with a warmed-up towel if you need to.

Items you will need

About the Author

Richard Ristow has written for journals, newspapers and websites since 2002. His work has appeared in "2009 Nebula Showcase" and elsewhere. He is a winner of the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award and he edits poetry for Belfire Press. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and has managed an automotive department at WalMart.

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