During the colder months, your vehicle's A/C takes a low priority. When the weather becomes warmer, problems in the system can make driving a miserable experience. Moreover, issues that are left unresolved tend to worsen and promise larger repair bills down the road.
Your car's air conditioning system consists of several parts and hoses. Like all auto parts, these components suffer wear and tear; they can fail with time and use. Despite the A/C's importance to your driving comfort, few motorists understand how it works or the problems that can occur. In this article, I'll address several of the most common questions people ask about their vehicle's A/C.
"Does The System Need To Be Recharged?"
Many drivers immediately think problems with their car's air conditioner are related to a low level of freon (or R134 refrigerant) within the system. In reality, that is rarely the root cause - but, it can be a symptom of another issue.
The refrigerant in your vehicle should not leak. If it does, the leak must be identified and fixed to prevent similar problems in the future. If the root cause of the leakage is not resolved, recharging your A/C will only be a temporary solution; the newly-added refrigerant will leak again.
If the freon is low, have it replenished. But, realize that a leak likely exists in the system and needs to be repaired.
"What Is Wrong With My Car's Air Conditioner?"
This question exposes an important point about diagnosing and fixing problems with the A/C. The symptoms you experience will help your mechanic narrow down the culprit. For example, if the volume of air coming from the vents is lower than normal, that suggests a blockage somewhere within the duct system. On the other hand, if the air coming from your vents is warm, that suggests a leak, a malfunctioning compressor, or another parts-related failure.
Your mechanic is going to ask you to describe what you are experiencing when you run your car's air conditioner. Be prepared with a detailed answer. That will help him find and fix the issue.
"What Happens If I Don't Repair The System?"
If you neglect to have problems repaired, you can expect the system to fail in the future. Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the greater likelihood your repair bill will be higher. Small issues are relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. When those issues cause a failure, addressing them becomes far more costly.
"What Can Go Wrong With My Car's Air Conditioner?"
There are a limited number of factors that can cause your A/C to have trouble cooling your vehicle's cabin. Refrigerant leaks can starve your compressor of oil. That may eventually cause the component to malfunction. Dirt and debris can also lead to problems. Not only will they cause the refrigerant to break down, but they can also affect the expansion valve and compressor.
A blockage within the system can starve the moving parts of lubrication, causing heat and pressure to rise. That leads to deterioration of the hoses, bearings, and other components. Eventually, it can cause a system failure (similar to an overheated engine).
You'll notice that all of the factors described above gradually contribute to a systemic failure. That's the reason you should have a mechanic repair any problems quickly.
Chances are, you rarely think about your vehicle's air conditioner until it shows signs of trouble. The key to reducing your repair bill is to avoid letting problems persist. If the issue is related to a leak, it costs very little to recharge the refrigerant and replace a ruptured hose. If that leak eventually causes the entire A/C system to fail, you can expect to pay much more to have it fixed.