Fixing Your Car's Air Conditioning System

With summer quickly approaching, driving around town in a hot car without air conditioning is not an exciting prospect. A vehicle’s air conditioning can stop working for a variety of reasons, with each one requiring a different fix that can, depending on your level of expertise, be easily fixed from the comfort of your own garage or require the services of a certified mechanic.

A common cause of a car’s air conditioning blowing out warm air as opposed to the sweet, sweet cold air we all crave during the summer is a lack of refrigerant. In most cars a refrigerant leak is very common, with older cars experiencing a much higher rate of leaking. If the car loses all or most of its refrigerant, then the compressor won’t turn on. In some cases, a lack of refrigerant can lead to a failed compressor, which would require it be replaced. Other causes of a compressor not working properly can be a blown fuse, a failed magnetic clutch, or a seized compressor. Unless you’re handy, the best way to determine the issue is to take the car into a certified mechanic who will perform a number of diagnostic tests to determine the problem.

If you hop into your car and discover that it starts off cool but transitions to warm, then this is most likely due to an air conditioning system that is freezing up, though the culprit can be a number of issues. If the A/C system is freezing up due to too much moisture and air, then a vacuum pump should be used to properly clean it out. Other possible causes of intermittent cooling include a faulty compressor clutch relay, faulty A/C control switch, and a bad temperature sensor, among others.

Another problem involving the compressor can be a noisy A/C system, though a thorough diagnosis is often necessary to rule out other issues, such as loose hoses, air in the system, cross-contaminated refrigerant, and the wrong type of lubricant. Don’t forget about bad smells, either. If moisture has collected inside the system, then mold and bacteria can set up shop, blowing their foul order directly at you as you drive. This can typically be fixed by blowing a variety of chemicals directly into the air intake.

A number of problems can plague your air conditioning system, so it’s always a good idea to have it inspected each time you take your car in to get serviced. If you’re unsure of how to fix the problem at hand, you should always take your car in to be inspected and fixed by a trusted and certified professional mechanic.

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Posted on June 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM