Maintaining Your Car’s Air Conditioning System

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Summer brings a fair amount of change to the weather and our lives in general. It often forces us to embrace new styles of living. If you’re like most people, you’re trying to get as much cool air as you possibly can, no matter where you are. Whether at home, in the office, or in the car, everybody wants to stay cool. To make matters worse, the occasional heatwave hits, making the air even hotter. Being stuck in a place with faulty air conditioning at a time like this is definitely one of the worst things you can imagine.

Air Conditioning System

Unfortunately, your car’s air conditioning system can develop a range of problems, from leakages to clogged condensers, and even faulty wiring. These problems can go undetected for long periods, often because you don’t need to use the AC as frequently in the other seasons. If you’re going to keep your car’s AC in top condition, you need to maintain it. That’s why in this post, we’ll be discussing some tips for maintaining your car’s AC.

Major Components of a Car’s Air Conditioning System

Before we dive into the maintenance proper, it’s essential to have some basic understanding of the components of your car’s AC. Knowing what these components are can help you better diagnose any problems you might encounter in the future.

The Compressor

The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant that ultimately produces cool air. It also monitors and controls the temperature output and monitors temperature changes within and outside of the car.

The Condenser

As the compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, the condenser reduces the temperature and pressure of the hot gasses coming from the refrigerant. The condenser also provides access for moving the cooled liquid refrigerant to the accumulator. The condenser is the most important part of an air conditioning system.

Accumulator or Receiver/Drier

A vehicle’s model determines if it has a receiver/drier or an accumulator. The receiver/drier separates gas from liquid. The compressor’s design allows for gasses only, so liquids will destroy it. By separating gas from liquid, the receiver/drier protects the compressor from damage. This component is present in vehicles with thermal expansion valves.

Monitoring and controlling the amount of refrigerant going into the evaporator is the job of the accumulator. It stores excess refrigerant, filters debris, and removes moisture. Accumulators are present in vehicles with an orifice tube.

Thermal Expansion Valve or Orifice Tube

The thermal expansion valve monitors the pressure and temperature of the air conditioning system. In addition, it evaluates the amount of refrigerant that’s safe for intake by the evaporator. It’s often located between the condenser and the evaporator.

The Evaporator

The evaporator essentially cools the air within the refrigerant before it comes through the AC ducts and into the vehicle.

Maintenance Tips

With a basic understanding of the components, we’re ready to get into some simple maintenance tips. Getting your car’s AC in perfect condition costs little to nothing. Follow the tips below to avoid spending heavy on repairs and replacements of components in your AC system.

Check the condenser regularly.

As we mentioned earlier, your condenser is a crucial part of the AC system. It’s similar to a small radiator and is located in front of your car. The condenser cools the pressurized refrigerant before transferring it to the accumulator. It can develop many kinds of problems, mostly because it’s located in front of the car. This also means that it’s easily accessible for regular cleaning and removal of dirt and debris.

Take care of your compressor.

The compressor is a rotating pump. It pumps, pressurizes, and circulates the refrigerant through the system. When it goes bad, you get hot air from your AC. Very often, loss of lubrication causes the compressor to fail. To avoid this, keep the coils clean, and also, ensure that the wirings are in good shape.

Faulty filters

Symptoms of a faulty air conditioning filter include reduced airflow from air conditioning vents, less power output from the engine, and increased dust in the cabin. Filters keep out contaminants like dust, dirt, and allergens. Frequent and regular cleaning to remove clogs that reduce the system’s efficiency will keep it from damage. A low-pressure port cap is highly efficient at keeping debris, water, and dust out while keeping the refrigerant from leaking.

Check for leaks.

Leaks often occur due to wear and tear of some components over time. The design of the car air conditioning system also makes it susceptible to road salt and brine used during the winter months. These bring about corrosion of some components of the AC system. Other culprits include moisture and damage from road debris or accidents. When there’s a leak, the air conditioning system starts to blow hot air.

To prevent this, have the system checked for tiny leaks and get them repaired for optimum service. Leaks can also be fixed by using a stop leak. There are tutorials online that can guide you on how to fix leaks in your car’s AC. However, it’s much better to hire a professional when you’re trying to fix your car’s AC since plugging leaks is a delicate matter. You definitely don’t want to make things worse.

Listen to weird and unusual sounds.

Any car owner will tell you that strange noises from under the car are a bad sign. It can be associated with a variety of problems, from a faulty drive belt to loosened bolts. It’s impossible to tell where the problem is from just by listening to the sound, but you can bet that it will lead to some problems later on. The sooner you get these noises checked and fixed, the better for you and your AC system.

Take advantage of recirculation mode.

This mode allows the car’s air conditioning to recirculate the air inside the car for cooling, instead of taking air from outside. The button in your car with an arrow that looks like it’s going in a circle activates this setting. With this mode in operation, you get more fuel economy and prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your compressor.

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