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Old 06-20-2020, 11:37 AM
haigha's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Machine
Posts: 1,280
haigha is on a distinguished road
Recharging AC, two ways

Since 2010, I've had to get the AC recharged in my 04 4.4i about every two years.

My mechanic has always done this for me using his gauge set and one 12 oz can. We've never used the complete contents.

This year, he's been struggling with his health, as you may have read about in my recent posts. He was supposed to have double hernia surgery two weeks ago, delayed from March because of the pandemic. That got canceled at the last minute because of a miscommunication. Now he's rescheduled for August, poor guy.

This is a good overview of the full gauge method:


I don't have the gauges. I read about others having success with AC Pro Ultra Synthetic. There's a debate about whether this is a good way to do it. I think with the proper precautions it can work well. It's about $30 for a can with the hose and analog pressure display at Walmart:


The same thing sells at auto parts stores for $40-$45, usually with a rebate available. The label is a little different, sometimes with the STP logo. I verified by a support ticket that it's the same product. There is a more expensive version with an LCD gauge and more additives. Also, a high-mileage version and ones with UV and red dyes to pinpoint leaks.

In California, add about $10. I think that's for a refundable deposit.

Here's the most recent official overview:


And a more detailed one on a 3 series:


The old version of AC Pro had a manually adjustable pair of needles to restrict the green zone based on the ambient temperature. The one I bought this year didn't have them.

A few tips:

1. The low pressure port on the e53 is at the back left, facing the vehicle, of the engine bay.

2. If after hooking up the hose and running the AC at full, the gauge is in the red, STOP! You may have a more serious problem.

3. Use smaller increments than 10 to 15 seconds. I'd say about 5 to 8 each iteration. The e53 doesn't hold a lot of R134a.

4. I think it's essential to have a second person using a non-contact thermometer gun, which gives an instant reading, at the middle vent. Make sure the manual dial in the middle top of the vent is set to maximum cooling. Have the windows down or door open so they can report the current reading, immediately if they see it at 45 F or lower, and after fifteen seconds of each small recharge. I recommend stopping once you get down to about 43 to 45 F. You don't want to overcharge the system. It was about at the middle of the green zone on the AC Pro gauge when I got to that point. Ambient temperature was 79 F.

5. My mechanic always had me rev the engine to about 2500 RPM while recharging. I'm not sure if that is required with AC Pro. I didn't see it in the official video.

6. Don't unscrew the hose from the can, unless it's empty. The can is pierced and the refrigerant will escape. Store AC Pro indoors. These cautions were in an earlier official video.

It has been four weeks since I recharged and the middle vent is still cooling to around 43 F.

Another resource that helped me understand the process:


Last edited by haigha; 06-24-2020 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 06-20-2020, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: KY
Posts: 324
14thbmw is on a distinguished road
Appreciate you posting this and hope your mechanic gets well and back to the wrenches soon.

What thermometer gun do you use?

2005 e53 X5 4.8is 160k miles
2018 M5
2018 Volvo XC60
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Old 06-21-2020, 05:05 AM
haigha's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Machine
Posts: 1,280
haigha is on a distinguished road
Thanks for the good wishes.

This is the gun I got for $25 in July 2018:


It also has a non contact voltage mode. Unfortunately, it's not available at the time of this post. Lots of demand for non contact thermometers during the pandemic, though this one isn't designed for use on people. There some listed if you scroll down the page.

Here's one that's supposed to be in stock in late July for $22 without the the NCV mode:


And one currently available sooner in "used, like new condition" for $14:


(Amazon Warehouse)

Last edited by haigha; 06-21-2020 at 05:21 AM.
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