R12 is almost impossible to buy, unless you go to a large-scale auto parts supplier like Napa. They won't sell it to you unless you are a certified A/C technician. You can buy R134a easily at other auto-parts stores, but be careful! If your car's A/C system is depleted of all refrigerant, you have a serious leak that must be fixed. Also, a vacuum pump must be used on the system (to remove air) before you introduce R134a.
R12 is difficult to find and they do sell conversion kits to make R12 systems compatible for R134a, but something most people won't inform you of is the fact R12 seals and oil protect against the chlorine in the freon where R134a uses a hydrogen setup. If you do convert a R12 system to R134a the hydrogen molecule in it is going to ruin every seal and oil in the system because its more corrosive, so if you can spend the extra for the R12 because long run its going to be way cheaper for you and last longer.
It depends on what type of freon your car uses. If it is pre 1994ish you will probably need R-12 freon. Unless you are certified to purchase it, you will have to go to a service station. If your car is a later model it probably uses R-134a. This can be purchased at your local auto parts store. I have found the best deals at Bumper To Bumper.
If your vehicle came with R-12 (DuPont name Freon) it should be converted to R-134a----private individuals cannot purchase R-12 and professionals can with IMACA or ASE permits. Even then it has to be 30# service tanks. R-12 (Freon) has not been manufactured since 1995.
The best place to find freon would simply go to Wal-Mart after you find out what type of freon you have most likely r-134a or R-12. They sell a freon that seals some small leaks.
(Refrigerant--Freon or otherwise--cannot seal leaks in an A/C system. Some manufacturers put in an additive that supposedly accomplishes this, but don't count on it. Remember, the system operates at very high pressures.)
Although repair facilities are expensive it is a good idea to have your A/C serviced by a professional only. Properly filling a system requires several expensive pieces of equipment that are not practical to own for home use. It is easy to overcharge a system if you do not have a set of gauges.
DO NOT use refrigerant stop leak canisters. The chemicals in these cause havoc to a/c servicing machines. If your system has a leak then you should locate the leak using refrigerant dye and repair the leaking component. a repair facility will have a high power vacuum pump to determine if a system has a leak.
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