Thursday, September 20, 2012

Maintaining Your Car's Air Conditioner

There has been record-breaking heat this summer and that means your car's air conditioner has been working extra hard to keep you and your passengers cool. It is no surprise that most people say they like to keep their air conditioner "arctic cold." And really, who doesn't? But if your A/C isn't blowing as cool as it once did, there may be a problem lurking under the hood.

There are three common issues car owners have with their air conditioner that could contribute to a lackluster breeze:

There is a refrigerant leak
There is an electrical problem
The refrigerant level is incorrect
When there is a refrigerant leak in your vehicle, the air blowing through the vents does not get cooled to the temperature you set from inside your car. This can make air that is supposed to be cold, blow out at room temperature. It is important to fix the leak as soon as it is identified because air and moisture that enters the air conditioner can ultimately damage the compressor, the pump that compresses and transfers refrigerant gas.

If your car has an electrical problem, this means the fan, or blower motor, has stopped working. As a result, air no longer blows through your vents properly. Dust or debris could be the culprit behind the malfunction, though it could also be the result of a blockage or even a faulty electrical connection. Removing an obvious blockage may solve the problem, but if it is an electrical connection, the problem might be more serious.

A third common A/C issue is incorrect refrigerant level-either too much or too little will cause your car's air conditioner not to work properly. The telltale signs are there is too much noise coming from the A/C compressor or the air conditioner is cycling on and off too frequently.

Irregular maintenance of your vehicle contributes to each of these problems. Just like your home's heating and cooling system, your car's A/C should be checked at the beginning of each season. Checking in the winter is just as important as in the summer, when you are more likely to be using cool air.

So, if your temperature is not cold enough, you hear too much noise coming from the A/C compressor, or if the A/C is not cycling on and off properly, it may be time for a new compressor.

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