In the mid-2020s, most automotive manufacturers will start using R1234yf refrigerant in new vehicles. This hydrofluoro-olefin or HFO refrigerant has a much lower environmental impact than the R134a hydrofluorocarbon or HFC refrigerant in use since the 1990s or R12 Freon.
Here are a few tips to help you find R1234yf refrigerant along with important considerations for fixing leaks or recharging the air conditioning system in your car or truck.
Where to Find R1234yf Refrigerant
The new R1234yf refrigerant is not yet as widely produced as R134a refrigerant and is currently about 15 times more expensive per pound. You can buy small containers of R1234yf and R134a refrigerant along with other AC repair supplies, such as the synthetic lubricant ester oil AC for systems retrofitted to R134a, at your nearest auto parts store.
It is legal to purchase an R1234yf recharge kit without a certification from the Environmental Protection Agency from an auto parts store. If your vehicle uses R134a, you can buy up to 2 pounds of this refrigerant without an EPA certification. Only EPA-certified technicians can purchase larger cylinders or drums of ozone-depleting substances or other types of refrigerants.
The Benefits of Upgrading Your Refrigerant
The year model of your vehicle generally indicates the type of refrigerant in the AC system. Most vehicles manufactured before the 1990s use R12 refrigerant without an upgrade to an R134a AC system. With a few exceptions, vehicles manufactured before 2020 use R134a refrigerant.
One of the main benefits of R1234yf compared to R134a and R12 is a much lower global warming potential rating. R1234yf has a GWP of less than 1, while F12134a has a GWP of 1,430 and R12 has a GWP around 11,000. R1234yf stays in the atmosphere for just 11 days, while R134a remains for about 13 years and R12 can linger for 100 years or more.
The Drawbacks of R1234yf Refrigerant
While it is possible to upgrade an R12 system to use R134a, it is currently against the law to convert an AC system that uses R12 or R134a coolant to R1234yf. In addition to R1234yf refrigerant being much more expensive than R134a, equipment rated for use with this refrigerant is also a big investment. Some auto shops have not upgraded to equipment compatible with R1234yf refrigerant.
If you think that the AC system in your vehicle has a leak, you can use an AC leak sealer formulated for the type of refrigerant in the system. If the leak persists, you should have trained professionals test the integrity of the system. Make sure the AC service provider you use has equipment made for the type of refrigerant in your car or truck.
How to Get Refrigerant for Your Vehicle
You can purchase 8-ounce cans of R1234yf refrigerant or up to 2 pounds of R134a refrigerant at the nearest auto parts store location. Look for the right type of refrigerant to recharge your vehicle’s AC system in store or shop online to see options for in-store pickup or home delivery.