Common Signs That Your Car AC Is Not Working
It is official: spring is here, which means that after a long winter here on Vancouver Island, the heat is on its way. In fact, it may almost be time to start using your car’s air conditioning. With Victoria’s summer months ahead, you want to be sure your AC is operating as efficiently as possible to remain cool and comfortable in your vehicle. Unfortunately, as vehicles age, air conditioning systems can start to malfunction, or fully stop working. If it seems that your AC is not operating at peak efficiency, here are some things you should know:
How Does a Car’s Air Conditioning Work?
When you get in your car and turn on the AC – if you are like most people – you probably don’t think about the whole process that takes place to actually cool the air. Although it seems simple, the operation of a vehicle’s air conditioning system is somewhat complex. For you to understand how the process works, we have first detailed the main components of a basic air conditioning system. The components are:
- Dryer/Filter Dryer
- Expansion valve
- Evaporator coils
- Blower Motor/Fan
Next, here is how a modern auto air conditioning system works step-by-step, starting with your compressor:
- The compressor, which is mounted near the front of the engine and is attached to a pulley that is driven by the serpentine belt, receives cool, low-pressure refrigerant gas and compresses the gas to high pressure and temperature. This gas is then sent to the condenser.
- In the condenser, the gas is cooled, changing to liquid form.
- Then, the fluid passes through the filter dryer, where moisture and impurities are removed.
- In the next stage, the liquid refrigerant is sent through the expansion valve, which reduces pressure and temperature.
- Next, the low-pressure liquid refrigerant flows into the evaporator, circulating through coils. This causes the liquid refrigerant to begin to boil, changing it back into a low-pressure gas.
- As the refrigerant turns back into a low-pressure gas, it absorbs heat, which reduces the temperature of the evaporator coils. At this point, a blower motor/fan will blow this cool air through the vents in your car’s dash, cooling the cabin of your vehicle.
The process above repeats continuously.
What signs indicate that your air conditioning is not working?
Now that you understand how a car’s AC works, it’s time to learn how to identify flaws in the system. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of an AC system that is not operating well:
If you notice that your car’s air conditioning is not as powerful as it used to be, the following may be the root cause:
- Accumulation of dirt in the cabin filter
- Accumulation of dirt and debris in the condenser
- Refrigerant gas leakage
- Compressor inefficiency
When it comes to older cars, there is always a higher probability that problems will occur in the air conditioning system. For instance, it is possible that a hose in the system has punctured due to degradation over time, causing the refrigerant gas to leak. Alternatively, an AC compressor will eventually start to lose efficiency. If you notice a sharp drop off in your car’s AC output, it could also be due to a loose or damaged serpentine belt. If you think that your vehicle is experiencing one or multiple of these common AC issues, check out our auto air conditioning repair services today.
Another common symptom of bad AC is the presence of unpleasant smells from the air vents. In most cases, this problem is related to the accumulation of dirt, fungus, or bacteria in the system (this issue is commonly seen here in Victoria BC, where our climate is quite humid).
Luckily, the presence of unpleasant odors in your AC is generally a simple fix; most likely, a thorough cleanup of the vents and replacing the cabin filter will solve the problem.
Presence of moisture inside the cabin
When in perfect working condition, the car’s AC generates cooled air without any kind of moisture or humidity. So, if you notice some water dripping inside the vehicle and your car floor is getting wet, this is possibly an underlying issue with your car’s AC system. Wet floors and excess moisture are typically caused by one of the following:
- A blocked condensate drain, or a condensate drain that is not properly attached to your ventilation system
- Critically low refrigerant levels
Bad air conditioning got you down? Contact Searles Auto Today – we will help you quickly identify and fix your vehicle’s AC issues.
How to take care of your car’s air-conditioning?
Like with most systems in a modern vehicle, preventative maintenance will go a long way toward ensuring the long-term efficiency of your car’s air conditioning system. Here are some tips and basic precautions that will keep your car’s AC in good working condition:
- It is recommended to replace the cabin air filter regularly (about every 20,000-30,000 kilometers), especially if you drive around places that are exposed to dust or pollution
- Cleaning and sanitizing the AC! This not only ensures that the system is working efficiently, but it is also good for your health.
- Turn on the air conditioning from time to time, at least once a week (even in the winter). It will prevent the accumulation of dirt and dust in the system.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how a car’s AC system works, identifying problems in your car’s air conditioning is not such a complicated task. Generally, taking care of your car and performing regular preventative maintenance on your AC system will prevent you from having to spend extra money on AC repairs, which can be an unexpected headache. That said, if you do need car AC repairs or diagnostics, Searles Auto is here to help. Give us a call at 1-250-475-2000 or make an appointment online today!