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How to Charge a PT Cruiser AC

by Richard Ristow

If you only need the refrigerant level recharged, you do not need to take your PT Cruiser to an air conditioning-certified mechanic. It is a task you can easily complete at home. Your PT Cruiser takes R134a refrigerant, and refilling kits can be bought anywhere automotive products are sold. Typically, an air conditioning unit will be used more in summer months and hot weather. As a result, seriously consider recharging the system before warmer seasons begin.

Walk around the PT Cruiser and open all the doors. This will keep the air conditioning system from cycling off, later, as you recharge the system.

Release the hood and prop it open. In the engine, you will find aluminum pipes; these are part of the air conditioning system. Look for two connections with dust covers. Leave the high side connection alone, as it is intended for use in pressurizing the PT Cruiser's air conditioning system. Your R134a recharging kit is not even prefigured to fit this high side connection.

Remove the dust cover from the low side connection. Fit your recharging kit's hose onto this connection.

Set the recharging kit down. Find a safe place to do this. The front of the engine will likely have belts and a fan, and the kit needs to be away from anything that will sift or remain in motion once the PT Cruiser's engine is running.

Put your key into the PT Cruiser's ignition and start the engine. Allow the engine to reach its usual operating temperature.

Run the air conditioning at full tilt. Run it at its coldest setting, with the blower on its highest setting.

Insert a thermometer into an air conditioning vent. Monitor the temperature within the system as it drops. Since the PT Cruiser's air conditioning is low or out of refrigerant, the temperature should never reach 40 degrees. Where, exactly, the temperature levels off it depends on how much refrigerant is left in the Cruiser.

Remove your thermometer from the air conditioner vent. Leave the passenger compartment, and return to the Cruiser's engine. Pick up the recharging kit, once you get there.

Turn the handle atop the R134a canister. This will open the can and allow the refrigerant to flow into the Cruiser's air conditioning pipes. You will hear a loud, gassy, "rushing" noise.

Turn the handle atop the canister and close off the flow of refrigerant. This will let you take readings off of the recharging kit's gauge. Let a minute pass, before you add another charge into the PT Cruiser's air conditioning. This will let the system stabilize.

Position your thermometer in the Cruiser's central air conditioning duct. Once the system reaches an internal temperature of 40 degrees, the system is charged. Also, you will notice the PT Cruiser's aluminum pipes become cold. At the end of the recharging process, even around the high side connection will appear frigid to the touch.

Withdraw your thermometer from the central air conditioning duct. Disengage your recharging kit from the low side connection. Switch off the air conditioning first, and then shut the engine down.

Warning

  • You should wear personal protective equipment, like gloves and glasses, while recharging a PT Cruiser's air conditioning. If the R134a canister becomes very cold and hard to hold, wrap the canister in a warmed-up towel or rag.

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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