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How to Recharge the Freon in a Toyota Tacoma

by Richard Ristow

There are two types of freon, or refrigerant, that can be used in a Toyota Tacoma, but which one depends on the vehicle's model year. R12 freon typically is used for vehicles manufactured before 1984, and it is not an environmentally friendly gas. Cars of more recent manufacture use R134a. The recharging process is the same, but you should never use R12 in an air-conditioning system designed for R134a. Recharging kits for both types of freon are widely available at most retailers offering automotive products.

Run warm water into a pail. Place a clean towel in the pail, and position the pail near the front of the Toyota Tacoma. This is an optional step, but you may need a warm towel later in the recharging process.

Assemble the recharging kit by attaching the hose to the freon canister. The hose attaches to the top of the canister and care must be taken while doing this. The kit's valve has a stem that will puncture the canister's seal if turned down all the way, and that would prematurely release the freon.

Prop open the hood of the Tacoma. Attach the kit's hose to the Tacoma's low-side port. This port will be located on aluminum tubing withing the air-conditioning system. There is a high-side port just above it, which needs to be left alone. The kit will not fit onto the high-side port.

Place the kit in a location that is not near any components that will move when the Tacoma's engine is running. This includes fans and belts.

Start the Tacoma's engine and allow it to warm to its normal running temperature.

Place a thermometer in an air-conditioning vent and turn the Tacoma's air conditioner on at maximum power. This includes the highest setting for blowing force, and the coldest setting for temperature. Monitor the thermometer and remove it after the system reaches its coldest temperature.

Leave the Tacoma's doors open when you return to the recharging kit. This will ensure that the air conditioner keeps running during the recharging process.

Put on the safety glasses and gloves. Pick up the recharging kit and turn down the valve atop the canister. You will hear a rushing-gas sound as the freon charges into the air-conditioning system. Periodically close the valve to monitor the kit's gauges. Wait a minute or two before adding new charges into the system. This will allow the system to stabilize between charges. The freon canister may become cold in your hands, and you may need to use the warm towel that you have kept handy.

Place your thermometer in an air-conditioning duct and monitor the temperature within the system. A charged system should cool to 40 degrees. You will also notice all of the aluminum piping becoming cold.

Turn the valve atop the canister and shut off the flow of freon once the system is charged. Remove the hose from the low-side port and turn off the air-conditioning system and the Tacoma's engine.

Store leftover freon in a place where air temperature remains constant. Do not dispose of excess freon by releasing it into the atmosphere. This means the hose and the gauge should remain attached to the canister, and the canister should be stored upright.

Tip

  • The steps for recharging freon levels may vary slightly by kit manufacturer. Always read the instructions provided with the recharging kit, and defer to those instructions.

Warning

  • Freon is a compressed gas. For safety reasons, you should wear eye protection and gloves when recharging the Tacoma's air conditioner.

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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