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When it comes to servicing air conditioning systems, there is a wide range of equipment options automotive service professionals have to choose from. The challenge for prospective buyers is determining how an A/C service machine can best serve your shop to be more efficient, productive and profitable.

This is not always a straightforward task given the number of additional features and enhancements that can make one A/C service machine appear more preferable than another.

With this in mind, here are seven questions to help you identify the air conditioning recovery and recharging machine that best aligns with the goals you have set for your shop.


1.What vehicles are compatible with the A/C service machine?

 Do you mostly service older vehicles that use R134a refrigerant? Or do you need better coverage for newer vehicles (since 2015) that use R1234yf refrigerant? Or maybe you need equipment to service both?

While there are many machines designed for one or the other, some models of A/C machines offer a more convenient dual option, which allows you to recover and recharge both types of gasses all in one machine.

 2. Do I have room for an A/C service machine?

Most machines are marketed as A/C service carts and come with built in casters that make it easy to store and move into position whenever you need to perform A/C work. However, while there are space-saving advantages with mobile carts, you’ll still need to determine how many machines you can reasonably accommodate without impacting shop efficiency.

If space is a concern, it may make more sense to go with a dual option. That said, you should also consider having a backup machine. This can help you prevent turning business away because your only A/C service machine suddenly stopped working.

 3. How long will it take me to recharge an A/C system from start to finish?

 If there are no leaks in the system, most automated A/C recovery and recharging machines should be able to remove the used gas and start recharging in a matter of minutes. Older A/C equipment may be less accurate, requiring technicians to spend more time adding or subtracting refrigerant to get the correct amount of cooling.

A dual A/C service machine can also help you save even more time if you don’t have to stop to switch from an R134a to an R1234yf tank. Be careful because some A/C service machines may be marketed as “dual” but will not let you recover and recharge without changing between refrigerant tanks, which takes valuable time. 

4. Will the A/C equipment improve refrigerant recharging accuracy? 

As newer vehicles require less and less refrigerant, it can become even harder to fill refrigerant correctly. New A/C recharging equipment must be calibrated to at least +/- .5 ounces of the vehicle manufacturer’s requirements to ensure the correct amount of refrigerant is added to the system.

Undercharging or overcharging can result in reduced cooling capacity, inefficient operation and could potentially damage the vehicle’s air conditioning system. 

5. Will technicians have to intervene when the A/C machine is in operation? 

Some newer A/C service machines can be run and monitored using a smartphone or tablet, which can free technicians to work on more important tasks in the shop while the machine is running. 

6. Will customers expect a printed or digital receipt of the work performed?

Some A/C machines may be equipped to share records only electronically. Others may include add-ons that allow you to print a receipt on-demand. If you want to provide the best customer experience possible, this is one of those additional conveniences that can have an impact. 

7. What level of technical support does the manufacturer provide? 

If you are having problems getting your machine to run, you need answers quick!

Some A/C service carts come standard with onboard technology so the manufacturer’s service team can provide remote technical support. This allows you to quickly walk through and diagnose problems without having to wait for a service technician.

If in-person support is required, you should examine the size of the manufacturer’s distribution and service network to get a sense of how long it might take for a technician to come out to your shop and resolve the issue.


Reflecting on these questions can help you focus directly on the features that will help your shop service more vehicles and increase profits. Answering these can also reduce the fear of making the wrong choice on an inferior product, giving you even more peace of mind in the decision-making process.

For more tips and information on what to look for in an A/C service machine, download our A/C Service Cart Buyer’s Guide.