4 Hacks on How to Find Car Air Conditioner Leaks

Updated Jul 19, 2018 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

A car with an AC problem is something that every person doesn’t want to experience, so let’s give you four handy ways on how to find car air conditioner leaks.

The Philippines is a tropical country that only has two basic seasons, which are wet and dry. During the dry season, most of the provinces experience hot weather with a temperature ranging from 37C to 45C, and with global warming or climate change, it even rises above such range. That is why it is important for you to know how to find car air conditioner leaks.

A problematic AC increases the car's inside temperature

Driving on a hot weather with an AC leak is a no-no

With a leaking AC, you would surely run out of car air conditioning freon or the one that is responsible for keeping the air that is blown cool. As such, expect to come home with a body and clothing that have been soaked in smelly sweat. To add more, you would spend more money on freon than you normally do. Additionally, a problematic car AC would also not do you good during the rainy season, which is somewhat surprising for some new drivers or car owners. You have to understand that the moist that collects on your windshield and windows can be prevented by turning your AC on while driving during a rainy day.

If those are incidents that you don’t want to happen, then buckle up and equipped yourself with the knowledge that you can use wherever you might suspect that your car’s AC is leaking.

>>> Also check out: 3 must-know tips to keep your car’s AC system healthy in summer

Methods on How to Find Car Air Conditioner Leaks

Sure enough, you can bring your car to the repair shop and have it diagnosed by a mechanic once you feel that the AC is blowing hot air, but the truth of the matter is, doing it on your own can spare you some cash as well as time since shops often will provide service on a first-come-first-serve basis.

1. Do a Spot Check

Every car’s AC system might have leaks in three different car air conditioner components, and at times, more than one part leaks. These parts are the compressor, hoses, and pipes. With that said, carefully inspect these parts and listen for a hissing sound. For the AC hoses and pipes, check if there is any presence of oil around them, as this usually indicates that there is leakage.

The Basic Car AC Parts

The Basic Car AC Parts

2. Use a DIY Solution

A traditional style of detecting holes in inflatable toys and beds can surprisingly be utilized in your car’s air conditioner. This hack, however, is not applicable and helpful if the leak is coming from the compressor but would be efficient for hose and pipe leaks.

First, you need to prepare a soap solution in a spray bottle and then shake it well. After which, all you just need to do is spray it on the car air conditioning system pipes and hoses. If there is a leak, bubbles will form in that area.

3. Perform a Car Air Conditioner Dye Test

Today, car owners are fortunate enough because the online and offline retail market is filled with special tools that they can use to help detect car AC leaks. What is more convenient is that most of these AC leak detection kits are priced lower than what you would usually pay a professional for checking your car’s AC.

Kit Components

The first type of kit that you would usually find is composed of a dye, UV flashlight, and a set of gloves and goggles. The gloves and goggles should not be ignored as they will provide you protection, in case the dye accidentally squirts on you.

The Steps

For this method, you must make sure that your car’s AC does not contain any refrigerants. Then, you are required to remove the AC system’s charging port valves since this is where you would be pouring or injecting the dye, depending on the type of kit you bought. Just keep in mind that you need to follow the manufacturer’s instruction on how to go about the previous process.

Once you’re done, refill your car’s AC unit completely and make sure that the parts that you’ve detached have been re-attached properly. Then, drive your car like you normally do and turn the AC on. Once you have driven, you can go home and park your car in your garage, front yard, or driveway wherein it is not too bright.

Now, what you need to do is wear the goggles as they are also designed to help you see the fluorescent dye. Make sure, of course, that the engine is off and the car’s motor is cooled down. Using the flashlight, inspect the AC hoses and pipes. Once you see a fluorescing light, then that is where the leak is.

How a leak looks like using the dye and UV light test

Here's a detailed video to understand the method better:

A Helpful Video on How to Find Car Air Conditioner Leaks Using the UV Dye Test

4. Go the Modern Way with an Electronic Gadget

The second type of car AC leak detector that you would find is the electronic leak detector. Generally, the device will have the main body where you can see the sensors, batteries, power switch, and sensitivity setting control. Then, there is a long cord wherein its end contains the so-called “sniffer” that is responsible for detecting the presence of a small amount of car air conditioning coolant.

Special Requirements

Since the device is designed to “sniff” refrigerant, you must make sure that your AC is filled with freon, as opposed to method #3. Similarly, make sure that your car’s engine is off, and the motor is cooled. The detector is sensitive to dust, wind, and dirt, so place the car in an area wherein those might be abundant.

The Method

The first thing you will want to do is to, of course, turn the detector on by switching the right button. Then, adjust the sensitivity setting; the higher it is, the more sensitive it would be. After that, place the “sniffer” in the appropriate parts of the AC system such as the pipes, hoses, compressors, evaporators, and condensers. Once it detects a possible leak, the device will make a beeping sound, and for some models, it will light up together with the beep.

>>> More useful tips for car AC maintenance:

Go Ahead and Check Those Leaks!

The ways on how to find car air conditioner leaks are never too easy since you have to be familiar with the parts of your car and be brave enough to try out these hacks. However, being knowledgeable makes you a responsible car owner and will save you in any situation.

So, go ahead! Just be patient and careful, as well as make sure that you follow the guidelines provided here at Philkotse.com as well as the manufacturer’s kit, in case you plan to buy one.

Charisse Kim

Charisse Kim


Charisse has joined Philkotse since July 2018 as a part-time content writer. Besides writing high-quality SEO articles, Charisse also works as a content editor and provides coaching sessions to her teammates.

View more