With summer now in full swing, the A/C in your car is about as necessary as the brakes. In many parts of the country, heat waves aren’t just a comfort issue, they’re a health risk too.
So when you find that your A/C is no longer cooling your vehicle down, it is important to figure out why and then how to fix it. Here are a few tips on where to look for trouble.
A bad fuse or other electrical system problem
Your car’s A/C needs electrical power to get and keep the compressor running. Many things can lead to electrical failure. It can happen from corrosion of wires, a bad fuse or even from just being overloaded.
Use your owner’s manual to determine where the correct fuse for the A/C unit is. This video will demonstrate how to inspect a fuse to see if its blown.
If this is your only problem, consider yourself lucky. It’s a cheap and easy fix to do at home, or more accurately, in the parking lot of the auto parts store.
A broken compressor clutch
The compressor clutch is part of your A/C’s compressor assembly. It is responsible for pressurizing the air and keeping the refrigerant moving through the system.
Every time you use your A/C, the compressor clutch goes through on/off cycles. This means it is prone to wearing down eventually. When the compressor clutch is broken, you will notice warm air blowing from the vents.
Unless you are very handy with small mechanical repairs, this fix is best left to the pros.
A leak within the A/C system
This is, by far, the most common ailment of an A/C system.
Leaks in the air conditioning system are often caused by a mixture of the refrigerant used in your A/C and moisture. This reacts to create an acid that can corrode valves, hoses and seals within the system.
Therefore, this will cause warm air to come out of the vents in your car because there isn’t enough refrigerant going through the system.
If you’re handy with a wrench, follow this video to inspect your A/C system for leaks and replace any parts that have been corroded.
A weak expansion valve
The expansion valve in your A/C system is what regulates the amount of refrigerant that goes into the compressor. Too much or too little can cause problems with the entire unit.
If the flow of refrigerant is blocked going into the compressor it could cause parts of the assembly to get so cold that ice or frost can form around or even inside the system. This will cause further restriction of refrigerant and failure of the compressor.
Too much refrigerant passing through can flood your compressor and also prevent it from pushing out cool air.
Even if you can’t fix the problems with your A/C yourself, knowing specifically what is wrong will help your mechanic diagnose and understand the problem quickly. It will also demonstrate that you know a thing or two about cars and their air conditioners.
As always, knowledge is power and knowing your stuff will keep you from being overcharged or having unnecessary services performed.
For more money-saving and enlightening car care tips, stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog.