Automotive Air Conditioning Repair Tools
Disclaimer: If you click on the buttons and purchase one or several items from Amazon, I will receive a small commission. Having said that, I purchased these tools and products myself and used them to repair my own A/C system.
A/C Manifold Gauge Set for R134a Refrigerant
To fill the cars A/C system with refrigerant and to administer the compressor oil as well as the leak detection dye, you need a basic set of A/C gauges and valves. The quality doesn't really matter, and a simple kit will do the job. Make sure there is the manifold unit, bottle pierce valves, three hoses and the two connectors that hook up to the high- and low A/C fittings.
UV Flashlight and Yellow Goggles
In order to find an A/C refrigerant leak with the dye, you need a UV flashlight and yellow goggles. It's best to do it in a dark garage or at night. Even tiny leaks will become visible then. Any UV flashlight and yellow goggles will do the trick.
A/C Vacuum Compressor
In order to evacuate the A/C system and to create an absolute vacuum, you'll need a strong rotatry vane, geared, diaphragm or piston pump. Not evacuating the A/C system can lead to corrosion and to less efficient cooling. These pumps come with a little cannister of oil to keep the rotary vane or the gears lubricated. The connectors usually fit the hoses from the gauges.
Hand Dye and Compressor Oil Injector
If you want to inject A/C leak dye or compressor oil without filling the system with refrigerant, you can use a hand injector like this one. You would hook it up to the low-side and inject the dye manually.
A/C O-Ring Assortment
When servicing and repairing your A/C, you always have to install new O-rings at the fittings and connections to prevent leaks. A/C systems need special o-rings made from Hydrogenated Nitrile Butadiene, which is resistant to oil, gas, water, alcohol solvents, high temperature and high pressure. They are normally colour-coded in green or purple.
Adapter Fitting R12 to R134a
When retrofitting an old R12 A/C system to the more modern R134a refrigerant, you'll need adapter fittings to hook up the hoses and connectors. They come with Schrader valves and protector caps. Before you buy them, make sure they actually match the threads on your old A/C system.
If you can't find the leak with the dye and the UV lamp, you can try to use a Refrigerant sniffer. It senses all freon gasses and starts to beep more rapidly when it detects them. It's a great tool to check for leaks in the evaporator core and in areas you can't access. But be careful with it and don't cover the nozzle. It will give you a false positive if you do.
R134a Gas Can
You can purchase R134a refrigerant gas in small bottles like these. You are going to need 3-4 bottles, depending on the A/C system of your car. I would buy two sets to have some in stock in case the A/C system starts to leak again. This gas can be purchased with or without dye added already. Stay away from gas that has "anti-leak" additives because they will clog up and damage your system.
In order to check the efficiency and functionality of your A/C system, you will need a thermometer. The A/C should cool the air down to around 4-6 degrees celsius.
A/C UV Dye
If your A/C system is not already loaded with the UV dye, you have to purchase a bottle and fill it into your system to make any leaks visible. You can also purchase refrigerant gas which has the dye added to it already.
A/C PAG Compressor oil + UV Dye
If you are changing the condenser, evaporator core or the compressor, you have to add a little bit of PAG compressor oil to the system. But make sure you are not overfilling it. Small sips are enough.