Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Vehicle air-conditioning systems

Air-conditioning systems in cars and vans contain fluorinated gases (F-gases). These gases are powerful greenhouse gases and may escape during the vehicle's lifetime, servicing and at the end of the vehicle's life. F-gases are more likely to leak accidentally from older vehicles.

What you must do

Use a qualified person to recover your F-gases

F-gases must be recovered from vehicle air-conditioning systems during servicing and dismantling. This must only be done by a suitably qualified person.

To service, repair or dismantle vehicle air-conditioning equipment you must hold a relevant qualification in refrigerant recovery and handling from one of these organisations:

City and Guilds: Automotive qualifications
Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI): Standards and qualifications
IMI Awards Limited: Qualifications
Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE)

You may also hold:

  • a relevant in-house qualification issued by a UK employer after a course of training, or
  • a full qualification issued by a recognised body from another EU member state.
  • Anyone handling or recovering refrigerants in vehicle air-conditioning equipment requires the correct qualifications to meet minimum requirements.

Cars and vans produced before 1995 may also contain gases that are ozone depleting substances (ODS). You must ensure you comply with the ODS Regulations, and use a suitably qualified person to properly recover any hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants.

Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and fluorinated gases (F-gases)

If the vehicle's air-conditioning system contains a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) such as R12, then you should not carry out any maintenance work that involves breaking into the refrigerant circuit.

You should use a specialist business to dispose of equipment containing CFCs and comply with the duty of care for waste.

Find your nearest waste site

Restrictions on using F-gases in your vehicle

If a vehicle's air-conditioning system has had an abnormal leak of refrigerant you must repair the leak before refilling it with F-gases.

Additional guidance on how to assess abnormal leakage is being produced. We will update our guidance when this becomes available.

It is good practice to make sure that you check vehicle air-conditioning equipment containing F-gases for any leaks before refilling it.

Between 2011 and 2017 the use of some F-gases will be phased-out by vehicle type. This includes the retrofitting of air-conditioning systems.

You should check with the manufacturer or dealer that a vehicle type is approved before retrofitting an air-conditioning system that uses an F-gas with a global warming potential (GWP) of greater than 150. This includes HFC 134a.

After January 2017 you must not retrofit any car or light van with an air-conditioning system that contains an F-gas with a GWP of greater than 150.

Further information

F-gas Support has published a number of information sheets covering fluorinated gases and air-conditioning for vehicles.

GOV.UK: F-gases - mobile air conditioning

For further information about end-of-life vehicles see the NetRegs guidance.

End-of-life vehicles

Additional resources

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