Air conditioning in cars is critical and as heatwaves become the norm it is vital for both comfort and safety. In winter it can warm the journey and, in the summer, make trips cooler. These are complex systems and can develop problems for many reasons. Here are a few.
- A blocked or clogged condenser
A condenser in a car cools refrigerant after it has been compressed. This is done by the airflow that comes through the front of the car as it is driven. If the condenser becomes full of dirt, then the air can’t get through and the refrigerant can’t be cooled properly.
- A broken condenser
If there is nothing blocking a condenser it may have been punctured and damaged by debris from the road. The alternative to this is some form of equipment failure.
If inspection of a condenser shows any visible punctures, then it is likely that it will need to be replaced.
- Leaking refrigerant
Together with compressor issues, leaking refrigerant is the most likely cause of AC issues.
Leaks can occur anywhere in the air conditioning system, and it can take time to establish exactly where the leak is happening. Most commonly, though it happens at the hose connection points of the system. If there is an oily leak around any of these points it may be where the leak is happening.
It can be repaired by the owner or technician using a special sealant designed for A/C units.
- Faulty cooling fans
Fans are vital for the cooling process and without them, the condenser is unlikely to cool properly. Damage to the fans can be caused when debris cracks one. If this happens the fan will need to be replaced.
Issues such as blown fuses may also be a problem as may other electrical problems and are probably best left to someone with the appropriate knowledge and skill to deal with the problem.
- Electrical issues
These can be very hard to diagnose, and this is where professional help comes into its own. Diagnosis starts with examining the wires to check for any damage to them. Any frayed wires can be taped and if broken they can be spliced and then mended with tape. This can be done by the owner if they feel comfortable.
If the wires are not damaged, then an experienced auto electrician should be used to resolve the problem.
- Bad compressor
The compressor is what keeps an A/C functioning. It is necessary to circulate the refrigerant and without it, air cannot be cooled. The most common reason a compressor develops problems is lack of use. To counter this, the best thing to do is to run the A/C at maximum for 15 minutes every two or three weeks no matter the season and the temperature.
Together with refrigerant leaks, compressor problems are the most likely cause of any problems experienced with a vehicle’s air con system.
There are many reasons that air conditioning systems can fail or underperform. Most of these come down to either refrigerant leaks or compressor problems. Some problems can be easily solved by the owner as noted and the rest needs expert assistance.