How to Put Freon in a Honda Elementby Richard Ristow
Depleted Freon levels will not adversely affect a Honda Element's air conditioner. The system will, however, only put out warm air. This will effect your comfort while driving in hot weather, but the problem can be easily fixed. Freon levels can be recharged at home, and beyond a R134a recharging kit, no special tools are needed. The kit itself is widely available, even at discount retailers with automotive departments. Since R134a Freon is a compressed gas, you should wear safety gloves and goggles while charging the system.
Ensure that your Element is parked on a flat surface. Engage the emergency brake. Move your gear shifter to an appropriate setting. Place it in park if your Element is automatic, and place it in neutral, if the Element is a standard transmission.
Open the Element's hood and locate the air conditioner's metal tubes. These aluminum pipes will feature two pressurized connection ports. The high side connection is used mainly for maintaining pressure within the Element's air conditioning. You do not need to use it for this task, and the R134a kit will not even fit this port. Remove the dust cap from the low side connection and attach your R134a Freon kit's service hose.
Find a safe place to temporarily set your kit down. Within the Element's engine compartment, the kit should not be anywhere near something that will shift, shake or jostle it, like any of the Element's belts.
Take a seat behind your Element's steering wheel. Start the engine and warm it to it's standard running temperature. Then, set and run your car's air conditioner at its highest air-blowing capacity. Also, set the air conditioner on the coldest temperature setting. Later, this will help you take an accurate reading of the system's internal temperature. Let the air condition run for five minutes.
Exit the Element and open all the doors. The R134a Freon you are about to add needs to fully circulate within the system, and opening the doors will help ensure the system doesn't accidentally turn itself off, since the air cannot collect in a closed passenger compartment.
Open the R134a canister by turning the kit's nozzle all the way down. The nozzle's internal needle will puncture the can's seal. You will hear gas noises akin to a "rush." This is only the Freon leaving the can, traveling through the service hose and entering the air conditioner's aluminum pipes.
Allow a minute of charge before shutting off the can's nozzle. Allow a minute to pass before adding further charges of Freon. Waiting will allow the R134a Freon to fully circulate. Monitor the kit's pressure gauges during charging and resting periods.
Stick a thermometer into the Element's central air conditioning duct. Since the engine is still running, the thermometer will give you a more accurate temperature reading than Element's dashboard instrument cluster. Watch the temperature drop on the thermometer. The process is complete when the thermometer reads 40 degrees.
Remove the kit's servicing hose from the air conditioner's low side connection. Replace the connection's dust cover. Shut the hood over the engine compartment. Let the vehicle idle for another five to 10 minutes, so the Freon can evenly distribute itself throughout the air conditioning system. Then, shut off the air conditioner and the Element's engine.
- "Popular Mechanics Car Care Manual"; The Editors of Popular Mechanics; Hearst Publications; 2008
- US EPA: Recharging Your Car's Air Conditioner with Refrigerant
- Do not take the kit apart, if you have any remaining Freon. Store the kit in a cupboard where there will be no shifts in temperature, and store the kit by standing it vertical.
Things You'll Need
- R134a recharge kit
- Always defer to the instructions that come packaged with your kit. Do not buy or attempt to use R12 Freon. R12 is meant for older vehicles, and mixing it with R134a will damage your Element's air conditioner.
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.