The Summer Car Problem on Everyone’s Mind

Audi in the summer without air conditioningYour air conditioning system is something that can greatly affect your comfort, as well as your health. Prolonged heat, especially in a non-moving vehicle can be dangerous. And although it is possible to survive a hot summer without air conditioning in your car, it is not a fun experience. It requires a lot of extra preparation and limits the times you can drive, as well as the places you can drive.

Besides, no one wants to show up sweaty and smelly to work or a social event!

So when your air conditioning decides to die on you, getting it fixed should be a top priority, especially in this Texas summer heat!

How does Your Air Conditioning Work?

To have a better understanding of what could possibly be wrong with your air conditioning in the first place, it is important to have a good understanding of how your air conditioning works so that you can recognize abnormal symptoms, perhaps even before your air conditioning gives out.

Most air conditioning systems use a closed loop refrigeration cycle. This means that the compressor puts the refrigerant (which is in a gas state) under pressure and sends it to the condensing coils, which are typically in front of the radiator. This makes the gas quite hot, but in the condenser the heat is expelled to the air flowing across it from outside of the car.

When the refrigerant is cooled to its saturation temperature, it changes phases from gas back into a liquid, and the liquid then passes through the expansion valve to the evaporator, the coils inside of your car, where it loses pressure that was added to it in the compressor. This causes some of the liquid to change to a low-pressure gas as it cools the remaining liquid.

This two-phase mixture enters the evaporator, and the liquid portion of the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air across the coil and evaporates. Your car’s blower circulates air across the cold evaporator and into the interior. The refrigerant goes back through the cycle again and again.

Here are the most common possibilities wrong with your air conditioning:

A/C Leak

Typically the most common problem is a leak, which means that there is not enough refrigerant for the air conditioning to work properly. You will still feel air blowing through the vents, but it is hot air that hasn’t been cooled down through the AC system.

To spot a leak, you can add a fluorescent dye to the system that will make the leak much more visible. Be sure to follow the directions to ensure that you do not damage the AC system. The fluorescent dye will either leak out of the system, showing you the leak, or may even show a different problem by pooling up in other parts of the AC system.

Fixing a leak can be difficult, due to the placement of the AC system within the engine. There are ways to patch up leaks at home, but just be careful, as a lot of the time, fixing a leak requires taking things apart to reach the desired spot on the AC system. Sometimes, the leak just may be a loose hose, or something else minor that just requires being fitted into place more securely.

An Issue With the Compressor

Another common problem, and probably the easiest to diagnose, is the compressor. To check the compressor, turn the engine on, and set the AC on the highest cool setting.

You are looking for a pump-like thing, off to one side, with large rubber and steel hoses going to it. You are checking to see if the clutch is engaging on the compressor. The clutch is not the pulley you will see, but is the part that engages with the pulley. If it is not engaging this may mean you have a bad fuse, a wiring problem, low refrigerant, or a broken AC switch in your dash.

Hoses, Wires, and Other Minor Parts

A lot of times there is so much going on in the engine, that parts get worn down and broken, which can cause problems in the air conditioning system. This means that there may be a minor part that needs to be replaced.

Finding a mechanic you trust to fix your air conditioning problem is important, especially if you have no intention of fixing the problem yourself, or run into some difficulties when attempting a fix. If this is the case, feel free to schedule an appointment to get your air conditioning diagnosed and fixed, or for any other problems you might be having.