Troubleshooting Your Auto Air Conditioning: Issues That Require Professional Help

1 February 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Auto air conditioning is such a popular and desirable feature that more than 99 percent of new cars come with it installed. But when things start to go wrong, the repairs can be expensive. Even if you notice a small issue with the way your car's air conditioning is working, you will want to get it taken care of quickly.

Most work on vehicle air conditioning systems must be done by a mechanic or air conditioning specialist -- repairing the a/c is definitely not a do-it-yourself project. But knowing what constitutes a potential problem can help you get your professional involved and fix the issue before it causes a complete failure of the system. Here are a few major issues you might experience and what could be the cause:

Once-cold air is now warmer.

As soon as you notice that your air conditioning isn't quite as cold as you think it should be, it's time to figure out the source of the issue. Letting it go can result in a failure of the compressor or damage to the condensor or evaporator, all issues that will be costly to repair. 

What's often to blame for reduced cooling is a leak in the system, especially if your vehicle is older. Leaks create an open system where cold air is sucked out of the vehicle rather than inside to keep you cool. Also, outside air and moisture can get into the drier, which is responsible for keeping moisture out of the system, and wreak havoc.

If you spot that leak early, the fix could be as simple as a seal or hose replacement. Leave it until moisture enters the system and it fails completely, and you may be looking at hundreds or even thousands of dollars for new parts or a completely new system.

Mechanics find a/c system leaks through a couple of methods. Many refrigerants incorporate a special ultraviolet (UV) dye that can be seen under black light, so leaks are easy to spot if the dye shows up under light. Another way is to use a mechanical "sniffer" that detects the presence of chemicals in the refrigerant and alerts the mechanic to the spot where they are located.

Air starts out cool but gets warmer as you drive.

Leaks can cause this scenario, too. It just depends on where the leak is located. More likely, though, there's an issue with your compressor clutch. The clutch engages with the compressor to produce the right amount of pressure. When the clutch doesn't operate properly, the pressure is too low, and hot air comes through the system instead of cooled air.

Finally, clogs or blocks to the expansion valve can also make cool air go warm. This valve makes sure the right amount of refrigerant gets to the evaporator to produce cool air. Not enough refrigerant, and the air gradually gets warmer. Get this taken care of right away so it doesn't cause the valve to stop working completely.

Air isn't flowing normally.

If you don't feel the breeze on your face any longer, there could be an issue with a loose hose or seal. Fortunately, these are a relatively simple fix, as long as you address the problem right away.

A more serious issue involves the ventilation fan. Without a working fan, air won't circulate like it should. Your air conditioning repair professional should be able to replace the fan or fix any loose wiring to make it work again.

For more information, contact Modern Auto Air or a similar company.