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Common Air Conditioning Problems & Solutions

When you start your car, what’s the first thing you adjust? For many drivers across America, the first thing we touch after we start our car is the air conditioning. Whether it’s too hot or too cold, odds are that you take your air conditioning for granted – until it’s gone!

HOW DOES MY AC WORK?

Many people do not realize that your vehicle’s air conditioning system never creates cold air. In fact, it actually takes the heat and moisture out of the air that is already found in your cabin, replacing it with noticeably cooler air. To put it simply, your car’s air conditioning system is very similar to the one found in your home or office.

Having a good understanding of how the components work can help to explain the methods of repairs in the air conditioning system:

Refrigerant – While it is not technically a “component” of your system, refrigerant makes your air conditioning system work! Without it, heat cannot be removed from the system, which makes it essential for cooling your vehicle. At low pressures and temperatures, the refrigerant is gaseous but at higher temperatures and pressures, it is liquid. These levels should must be filled to an exact amount in order to function properly.
Compressor – The heart of the AC system, the compressor compresses the refrigerant so that it turns from gas to liquid.
Condenser – Your car’s condenser looks a lot like your radiator but continues to be one of the easiest components to spot (since it’s right in front of the radiator). This device condenses the high-pressure, high-temperature, vaporized refrigerant coming from the compressors. The condensed air then flows through the condenser to remove the heat in the high-pressure refrigerant, cooling it down.
Evaporator – Located behind the passenger compartment, the evaporator looks like a very small radiator with fins and tubes. Cold air from the receiver moves through the core of this component, allowing cold and dry air to be pushed through the vents.
Receiver – Your system’s receiver prepares the refrigerant for entry into the evaporator by storing it while removing any last bits of moisture that may be still in the refrigerant.
Expansion Valve –As the name implies, this valve allows the expansion of high-pressure liquid refrigerant coming from the receiver. When the expansion occurs, the pressure is lowered.

COMMON AC PROBLEMS

Some warning signs that your car’s AC may need help include:

Foul Odor – Certain vehicle air conditioner issues can cause a foul or unpleasant odor that is emitted into the cabin via your air vents. Bad odors can be caused by a dirty or aging filter or even mold that has grown on your AC’s evaporator case.
Noticeable Airflow Change – If you have noticed a decrease in the quality of what you’ve come to expect from your car’s air conditioning, this may be an early warning sign of possible mildew or mold buildup if airflow has decreased.
Change in Cooling – Has your cooling taken a noticeable decline? If you are expecting cold air, but not getting it no matter how long you wait, this is an obvious sign of AC trouble. This could be due to many things, such as a blockage in your system or even a compressor issue.
Loud Noises When AC Is On – Your car’s compressor is the backbone of your AC system. If you hear loud noises, like a grinding or squealing sound when the AC is turned on, this may be a sign of a larger compressor issue that needs to be repaired.
No matter the symptoms you are experiencing, a qualified and professional auto mechanic will be able to dial in on exactly what is wrong with your air conditioning system, as well as offer services or advice to get your unit back up and running in no time.

COMMON AC SOLUTIONS

Most air conditioning issues could be remedied, or avoided altogether, through preventive maintenance. Detection and repair of any of your car’s air conditioning system issues can prevent additional damage that will save you time and money.

Some easy things to do to maintain your AC system includes:

Inspect Compressor Belt – If you are ever under your car’s hood, be sure to regularly check and inspect your compressor belt for cracks and damage.
Look for Damage – Visible damage can be a telltale sign that your car is experiencing air conditioning issues. If you noticed anything wrong with your car’s operations, bring it to a professional.
Test Air Conditioning Function – You should always test your air conditioning system throughout the year to ensure it is properly cooling. You never want to be stuck in the heat without it.
Regular Service – As a general rule of thumb, we’ll perform a visual inspection on each service. If you’re experiencing any trouble with your AC, we’ll assess the problem further, potentially performing an evac and recharge.

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