Air conditioning used to be a real luxury in a vehicle, but now it’s standard in most. Your vehicle’s air conditioning system is built to last a pretty long time, but like anything mechanical, sometimes it fails.
It helps to know a little about how the A/C works. There’s a compressor that pressurizes the refrigerant (you probably recognize the term Freon). That makes it hotter, so it then goes through a condenser that cools it off. Then another component takes out impurities and humidity before the Freon goes to a device that makes it lose pressure before it goes to the evaporator. That’s where it gets colder and takes the humidity out of the air. Then your vehicle’s ventilation system blows air over the evaporator, cooling the cabin air that gives you such relief on a hot day.
Of all these parts, one that does a lot of work is the compressor. It has to compress that refrigerant and circulate it through the system. It turns on and off several times when it’s working. The good news is that if it’s going to fail, it sometimes lets you know.
One of the signs that your air conditioning compressor is going bad is a noise under the hood when the engine is on, sometimes a squealing or grinding sound. It usually is pretty noticeable. Compressors have a bearing that can seize up after time, causing the belt that drives it to squeal when it’s trying to turn something that won’t turn. It will sometimes cause that belt to break.
Your service advisor can tell you if your compressor is repairable or must be replaced. In the case of a broken belt (often a serpentine belt that drives several components) the belt will have to be replaced as well.
The compressor also has a clutch that turns the compressor on and off so it doesn’t have to run all the time. Sometimes that clutch can fail, too, and your service advisor will often recommend you replace the compressor and the clutch at the same time. Our technicians can help make sure your air conditioning system keeps its cool, and you along with it.
On a hot day, you want your vehicle’s air conditioning to work. When the air blowing out of your vents isn’t cold, it’s easy to think, “I’ll just take it by the shop and have them top off my refrigerant.” But while some people think air conditioning is that simple, it’s actually not.
If your refrigerant is low, something has to have happened for it to be depleted. Perhaps there’s a leak in the system. Or some hoses or clamps have failed. If the system isn’t evaluated by someone who knows air conditioning, it’s possible that adding refrigerant will just be a band-aid solution.
It’s also possible that contaminants have gotten into the refrigerant, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon, or air. Some of those gases do not condense like refrigerant does which can increase the pressure inside the system and strain the lines and other components. At that point, the best course of action may be to have the old refrigerant (with its contaminants) bled from the system and have your AC recharged with new refrigerant.
Bring it to us, and we can inspect and test the system and all its components. That will include a pressure test for leaks. Most vehicle manufacturers don’t have a service schedule for air conditioning systems, so one way to know when you should have it looked at is when it’s not behaving the way it used to. For example, it may not get cold as fast as it did before or even at all.
So, when hot air is exiting your vents when you want it to be cold, schedule an appointment and have a trained technician take care of it. Are you cool with that?
Most St. Peter motorists don’t even think about their car air conditioning system unless it fails. That’s because many St. Peter and Le Sueur motorists don’t really understand that auto A/Cs need periodic service. Let me share some of the reasons why they fail.
First, like every machine, the minivan air conditioner parts need – you guessed it – lubrication. The lubricant is actually mixed in with the refrigerant (that’s the stuff that makes the air cool). Remember that even if the air conditioner is still blowing out cool air, the oil that lubricates the parts may be used up: and unlubricated parts can fail in all MN cars.
Now here’s a tip for St. Peter auto owners: Run your air conditioner every so often during MN winters. This circulates the lubricant to help keep the seals from drying out.
The air conditioner actually removes some of the moisture in the air. So if you have trouble with fogging on your minivan windshield during MN winters or during a rain storm, running the A/C on the defrost setting should help. Now on some St. Peter cars you can’t run the A/C at the same time as the defroster. Don’t ask me why, but I suspect lawyers were involved.
Also, air and water can get into the A/C system. That can reduce the efficiency of the system and also lead to corrosion that causes damage. Cleveland auto owners should periodically purge the system and replace the refrigerant to remove the air and water.
St. Peter drivers would be wise to learn the important early warning signs of A/C trouble: 1) The air’s not as cold as it used to be. 2) Unusual noises when the A/C cycles on. Those are signs to get your vehicle into Autotronics of ST Peter in St. Peter before the damage gets worse.
By following the recommended service intervals in your minivan owner’s manual, you can help prevent mechanical failure of your air conditioning system. Your A/C system contains some expensive components like the compressor, condenser, dryer, etc. Anything Kasota and Le Sueur car owners can do to lengthen the life of their A/C is well worth it.