Car Air Conditioning Tune Up Time

by Don Elliott on May 10, 2012

Warmer days are up ahead. Now would be a good time to have your car air conditioning system checked to make sure that the air will blow cold even on the hottest summer days.

Car air conditioning systems are fairly simple in concept but complicated to service. A technician certified under the EPA Section 609 will know how to repair the ac and handle the refrigerant in the system.

Refrigerant is formulated to transform hot air into cold air by absorbing heat when compressed and then releasing the heat to the outside air when passed through the condenser. Most of us still call refrigerant by its original trade name, Freon.

Freon was banned in the 1990’s when it was determined that the chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in R-12 Freon were depleting the ozone layer. Today’s refrigerants are CFC-free, but none-the-less toxic so fixing your car air conditioning system is not a do-it-yourself project.

When your car air conditioning is not providing cold air, what could be the problem? There are several possibilities:
• The first and most obvious problem is a lack of refrigerant. Recharging the system will return cool air. However, the refrigerant and oil in the car air conditioning system operates within a closed circuit. If the refrigerant is low, there is a leak that must be repaired. Your technician had several techniques for finding the leak, including the use of dyes to correct the problem and stop the loss of refrigerant.

• The compressor is the core of the car air conditioning system. Its job is to pressurize the refrigerant. The compressor is the one component that has several moving parts that can fail in a number of ways. The compressor is powered by the car’s engine using a belt drive system. If the belt is loose or broken, the compressor will not spin.

• The compressor has a clutch to control the flow of refrigerant. Over time, the clutch can wear down or fail for a variety of reasons. The bottom line is when the clutch fails, the car air conditioning system won’t provide cold air.

• The condenser is located in front of your cars radiator. As the refrigerant passes through the small tubes in the condenser, it is cooled and releases hot gasses outside of the car. Any leaks, clogs or damage to the condenser will reduce its ability to cool the refrigerant.

• Moisture can build up in the AC system. Depending on the type of car air conditioning system you have, there are several ways to remove moisture and other contaminants that reduce the effectiveness of the refrigerant.

• The evaporator is located under the dashboard of your car. Air is blown over the evaporator containing the chilled refrigerant to provide the cool air that blows into the passenger compartment. A worn evaporator will cause poor AC performance.

Tuning up your car air conditioning is a job for your auto repair facility and a trained certified technician. Get your car into the automotive repair shop before those beautiful summer days make you hot around the collar.

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