A broken air conditioner can make driving unbearable during the sultry summer months. A minor inconvenience the rest of the year, an inoperable A/C is most certainly an emergency situation when the mercury rises. Here are the most likely reasons your unit is on the fritz.
Refrigerant is the substance that is responsible for cooling the air that comes out of your A/C vents. When properly pressurized in a closed-loop system, refrigerant evaporates into a gas that is later used to cool an interior space. But when there is a leak in this closed system, refrigerant levels may fall, inhibiting operation. In other words, the fan will only blow hot. A fairly common car air conditioning repair issue in older vehicles, the challenge is actually locating the leak. The reason? Unlike oil or antifreeze leaks, drivers will not find puddles of fluid under their vehicles when refrigerant escapes. More often than not, an oily residue is the only sign that something is wrong. We should also note that a leak can occur almost anywhere in the system, including in the compressor, condenser, or the evaporator. As such, the entire unit must often be examined to properly diagnose and correct the issue.
If your A/C unit isn’t working at all, the problem could be electrical. Fuses, relays, pressure switches, and other electrical components can fail at any time because of age or defect. When this happens, the system is designed to shut itself down for safety reasons. The inevitable result is an air conditioner that will not respond when switched on-not even the lights will work. Only an experienced mechanic has the knowledge and tools to isolate the problem with diagnostic testing.
Another common car air conditioning repair problem in older vehicles is a worn-out compressor. The heart of the unit, the compressor is responsible for circulating refrigerant throughout the entire system. When it breaks down, the vents will only blow warm. Although age is the most common culprit for compressor failures, the vital component can also fail because of contamination or other faulty parts. A visual inspection of the part is often all a mechanic needs to diagnose the problem. If it cannot be repaired, the compressor must be replaced.
Clogged Air Filters
Attached to the outside intake of your car’s ventilation system, the cabin air filter removes dirt, dust, and pollution from the outside environment before it is pumped inside. When this filter gets clogged with all the debris it collects, airflow may be adversely affected. If your A/C vents are sputtering or barely blowing, there’s a good chance that an obstruction in the filter is to blame. Simply removing and cleaning this component is often enough to get things blowing again. Because it is an inexpensive, automotive part, it may be a good idea to simply replace it with a new one.
These common car air conditioning repair jobs can be completed by any qualified mechanic.