Summer’s here, so jump in your car and head to the beach.  It might be hot outside but inside your vehicle is cool with the air conditioning cranked up.  We all take it for granted that we can get in our car and be cool within a number of minutes (99% of all new cars from summer 2010 have it fitted) but what happens if it stops working?

How does your car’s AC unit work?

You need to realise that your vehicles air conditioning unit is basically a big fridge but laid out  differently. It says what it does, it “conditions” the air within your car, cooling it down and removing humidity from the air.  Without going into too many technicalities, there are three main parts to the system – the compressor, condenser, and evaporator:

  • The compressor compresses and circulates the refrigerant in the system
  • The condenser changes the phase of the refrigerant from gas to liquid and expels heat removed from the car
  • The evaporator transfers heat to the refrigerant from the air blown across it, cooling your car

So what can go wrong and how can you fix it?

Problem: Low refrigerant levels

This is the most common cause of air conditioning failures, simply not having enough refrigerant.   It is estimated that 10% of refrigerant permeates from the system each year (in gas form). However, if your car is maintained regularly then chances are that there is a leak. Cracked rubber seals and aging pipe work are the top causes of leaks, and as the refrigerant is what makes the air cold, it reduces the efficiency of the system, making it have to work harder.

Solution: As part of your car’s regular maintenance, get your air conditioning unit looked over.  The air conditioning system needs recharging with gas and lubricant every 2 years. You can have the gas in the air conditioning system recovered and purified, as recharging it ensures the proper amount of clean refrigerant is in the system, so it cools better and can last longer.  Do make sure that the refrigerant being used is of good quality to avoid pipeline corrosion, explosion, or leakage.

Problem: Leaks

Refrigerant is not the only thing that can leak in your car’s AC unit, water and air can also get into the system.  Air causes the system not to work as well and water can cause rust, ultimately damaging the AC components.

Solution: Putting on the air conditioning on a regular basis ensures that it keeps the seals lubricated and not drying out which can lead to leaks.

Problem: Dirty air conditioning filters

Has your air conditioning filter gathered too much dust and dirt?  It will affect its filtering ability and how it cools your car.

Solution: Cleaning air conditioning filters on a regular basis as if they are too dirty, they will need to be replaced.

It’s easy to avoid these common problems with proper maintenance.  Book your car in for a Summer service at your local garage.  At Volante Garage Edmonton, we can inspect and test your air conditioning, offering evacuation and recharging services.  We’ll even change your cabin air (pollen) filter.  All of this goes a long way to prevent having unexpected and costly air conditioning bills.

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