Ask the Expert: Was I swindled when an air-conditioning re-gas cost twice as much as expected?

Most cars need the air conditioning to be re-gassed after several years
Most cars need the air conditioning to be re-gassed after several years - getty

Dear Alex,

My used car was blowing out tepid air, so I took it to Kwik Fit to re-gas the air-conditioning. I thought it would cost £69 but they charged £134.95 because it needed “new” gas that is more environmentally friendly.

Have I been swindled? And can I claim back the cost under the three-month warranty that came with the car?

– NM

Dear NM

Almost certainly, you won’t be able to claim the cost. Few warranties will honour an air-conditioning re-gas, while none but the most generous of dealers would cover the cost either.

This is partly because re-gases are considered fair wear and tear; most cars need one now and again because the refrigerant gas seeps out through joins in the pipework over a period of years.

It’s also partly because a leak may have developed as a result of stone-chip damage after you bought the car, which wouldn’t be the dealer’s liability. If you tested the system and the fault was present at the time of sale, you would have had to ask the dealer to fix it before you took delivery.

Having said that, if part of the air conditioning system is faulty (as opposed to having been damaged), the entire repair, including re-gassing, may be covered under some warranties. However, if the re-gas alone fixed the issue, it’s likely that that won’t be the case.

I don’t think Kwik Fit has been underhand. It sounds as though your car uses the more up-to-date R1234yf freon gas that’s been in use since 2013, as opposed to the older, less eco-friendly R134a variety.

However, if you were quoted £89 by Kwik Fit, then it is obliged to stick to that price, though I’d be surprised if that were the case given they charge one of two fixed prices for a re-gas: £69.95 for R134a, or £134.95 for R1234yf.

On that basis, the amount you have been charged matches the advertised prices, as well as the amount I’d have expected to pay for such a service.

Put it down to experience; it’s always worth asking for an estimate (preferably in writing) before proceeding – that way there won’t be any nasty surprises when you collect the car.

Advertisement