You get in your car on a hot summer day and only warm air is coming out of your vents. A faulty automotive air conditioner can be frustrating and leave you feeling sticky and gross on your ride to work. Problems with car air conditioners can be extremely difficult to diagnose and repair.
If your car’s air conditioner isn’t blowing cold air, you should get it checked out as soon as possible before the situation gets worse and temperatures rise outside. Fixing your auto air conditioning at Broward Auto Diagnostics and Repair will turn your summer day around.
Repairing auto air conditioning takes skill. The first thing the Broward team will do is look for signs of leaking or an A/C compressor that does not engage. It’s important to diagnose the problem accurately to save time and money.
Diagnosing Your Auto Air Conditioning Issue
Is your air warm or cold?
We must first start the vehicle and turn the air conditioner on as high as it will go.
It’s important to assess the air coming out of the vent. Is it warm, cool, or cold? If the air is warm to slightly cool, the issue may have to do with airflow.
Your mechanic will check to see if the cooling fans on your radiator are running properly. If they aren’t, it could be a sign of an electrical issue.
Replacing the cabin air filter in your vehicle may increase the airflow, as well as help eliminate any unpleasant smells wafting through your car.
Is the A/C compressor running?
We need to determine if the air conditioner compressor is working, so we know which course of action is necessary to fix your unit. We do this by locating the air conditioner in the engine bay and then looking to see if the center of the pulley is turning along with the pulley itself.
A clutch engages when the A/C is working properly. When this clutch is engaged, the middle of the pulley will rotate along with the pulley itself. Unfortunately, if the clutch will not engage, the A/C compressor may need to be replaced. The problem may also be an easy fix; it may just need more refrigerant.
Did you check the wiring?
Most A/C compressors have a wire which leads to the electric clutch. First, we’ll find the connector in the middle of the wire and unplug it. Then we’ll test this out by running a length of wire from the compressor to the positive terminal of your car’s battery. At this point, we want to hear a loud “CLACK” sound. This sound means the electric clutch is functioning like it should and doesn’t need to be replaced.
Replacing your A/C compressor requires specialized tools. That’s why it’s important to
bring your vehicle in for this repair instead of attempting to do it yourself.
Did you look for leaks in the air conditioning system?
Some people choose to purchase leak detection kits to help identify leaks. These kits provide a dye that runs through the lines. The dye will then seep out of any leaks or cracks. While this is sometimes a useful place to start, if you spot any leaks, you will need to take your vehicle in to be repaired anyway. If you do not spot any leaks, the problem may be that it’s low on refrigerant.
Preparing to Add Refrigerant
Do you have the correct type?
First, you need to know what year your vehicle was made. Getting the correct type is simple: ALL vehicles built after 1995 use R134a. However, if your vehicle is older than that, it likely needs R12.
CAUTION: You CANNOT refill R12 refrigerant on your own! If your vehicle needs R12 refrigerant, you MUST make an appointment with an auto repair specialist to convert it.
Not only can you not refill the R12 type on your own, but you also can’t readily buy it. Though you might come across some while searching eBay or Craigslist, anyone selling R12 is required to verify that the buyer has an EPA Section 609 certification to work with mobile vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) systems. This type of refrigerant can be very hazardous to use and should be left to professionals.
Have you checked the ambient temperature?
Before you can read the gauge on the refrigerant, you need to know the current temperature of your environment. The gauge can give you a similar result at different times. This is due to the refrigerant occupying a different amount of space within the can and air conditioning system at different temperatures. Your mechanic will be able to accurately determine the ambient temperature and effectively read the gauge. When refrigerant expands to take up more space, the pressure in the can also increases.
Did you locate the low-side service port?
Your air conditioning system contains two service ports: a low-side port and a high-side port. When you take your car to the mechanic to service your air conditioner, they will locate the low-side service port. This is usually done by following the lines from the A/C compressor to a nozzle near the bottom of the car. Your vehicle’s service manual is also a good reference in identifying the low-side port.
Did you clean the area around the service port?
The area around the service port needs to be thoroughly cleaned with a rag to ensure that you don’t clog the port with any dirt or debris. Your mechanic will start by wiping the cap and the line first. Then they’ll remove the cap and clean the port itself. Brake cleaner can be sprayed onto the line to help clean it.
Did you attach the charging hose to the low-side service port?
Your mechanic will take the refrigerant hose and connect it to the low-side service port, making sure the opposite end of the hose is connected to the nozzle on the can. The hose should be a decent length, long enough to connect to the port without placing the can all the way into the engine bay.
Did you use the ambient air pressure chart on the gauge to determine pressure?
Your mechanic must read the gauge display while also taking note of the ambient temperature to determine the most current and accurate level of refrigerant. Mechanics are trained to carefully watch the gauge, so as not to overfill.
Refilling the Refrigerant
If your air conditioner is not blowing cold air or if you spotted a leak, it’s time to bring the vehicle in for repairs. Replacing an A/C compressor requires specialized tools that most people don’t have in their garage, as well as knowledge about the A/C system. It’s also dangerous to handle refrigerant leaks because the temperatures can be cold enough to injure you. Some refrigerants like R12 are too dangerous to handle and cannot be purchased without a special license. If you’re having an issue with your auto air conditioning, Broward can fix your problem quickly and efficiently.