Everything You Should Know about Air Conditioning

Everything You Should Know About Air Conditioning:

Air conditioning is a key part of providing a comfortable drive, especially on a hot summer day. There are many different components of the A/C system. Over time, these parts may break. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to key signs that your air conditioning may need fixing.

The sun is beating down on a long, hot summer day as you slide into the driver’s seat. You are just moments away from filling the car with cool air from your air-conditioning—or so you think. Your heart sinks when you realize that the AC is not working in the car, and you will have to suffer in the heat for a bit longer.

If you’re like many drivers, you probably wonder: Why is my car’s AC not working? Air conditioning is a complicated system comprising many components. Over time, these components can wear out and break. There are some logical failure points in the system, and they can give warning signs. 

Pay attention to those warning signs, and get your air conditioning system serviced before you face a long drive in an overheated car’s interior.

How Do Car Air-Conditioning Systems Work?

It’s enough for most people to know that your car’s AC will be there when you need it. Yet understanding how the system works at a basic level can help make you a smart car owner who addresses problems before they arise.

The key component in an air-conditioning system is the liquid refrigerant. Air-conditioning systems work by moving the refrigerant across different components to convert it into a gas that releases cool air. The system also absorbs heat and humidity from the vehicle, adding to your comfort levels.

What are the Key Components of AC Systems?

Having a basic understanding of the components of an air-conditioning system is also important for drivers to know. Here’s an overview:

  • Compressor: The compressor is central to the operation of an A/C system. It consists of a pump that runs via a belt linked to the engine. As the pump operates, it pressurizes the refrigerant to cool the air, controls and monitors the temperature output, and moves air to the condenser. 
  • Condenser: Located at the front of the radiator, the condenser reduces the pressure and temperature of hot gasses coming from the refrigerant. Many liken the condenser to the function of a radiator. And in fact, that’s exactly what it does: it radiates heat out of the system. 
  • Accumulator: The system includes a part known as the accumulator as a fail-safe mechanism should the system produce excess moisture. According to HowStuffWorks.com, the accumulator filters excess liquid from the system before it gets into the compressor. 
  • Thermal expansion valve: The expansion valve represents a transition point in the AC system between the condenser and evaporator. The valve serves as a regulator of sorts. It helps calculate the exact amount of refrigerant that can safely enter the evaporator.
  • Evaporator: The final step for the refrigerant before it enters the vehicle’s cabin as cool air is the evaporator. You usually find this particular component at foot level on the passenger side behind the dashboard. The evaporator cools and dries the air, and blows it out into the cabin.

Why Is My Car AC Not Working?

So then, what is going wrong when you turn the air-conditioner on, and it blows hot air? There are several likely explanations. 

The most obvious possibility is that you have lost a significant quantity of refrigerant. This can happen as the system ages and certain components leak, causing fluid levels to drop. You can recharge the system to help restore your refrigerant level, but you may also have to repair any leaks.

A second possibility is that the system has a blockage between the system’s key components—the compressor and the condenser—and the air vents. Because the cool air is blocked, you cannot feel it.

The final problem could be broken or worn parts. As discussed earlier, the system comprises a complex array of components with specific jobs in a tight space. If any of those wear or break, it could render the system non-operational.

One important nuance to understand: an AC recharge may only be temporarily effective. If the root cause is a leak in one or more components, then the problems are likely to return. Make sure your mechanic does the most complete inspection of the system possible.

Other Signs Your Air-Conditioning System Is Failing

Besides hot air, your car’s air-conditioning gives other signals that something might not be right. Catch these signs soon enough, and you may be able to avoid the most expensive repairs:

  • Weird smells, which may signal mold in the air-conditioning system from moisture that is not properly draining.
  • Strange noises, such as grinding or a squealing when you engage the air conditioner. This could signal problems with one of the belts in the compressor. Some have described chirping or rattling sounds before a compressor failure.
  • Excessive fluid leaks beyond what you would typically see from your air conditioner on a hot day.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix an AC System?

The answer to this will depend largely on what kind of car you drive and what’s wrong with the system. Recharging the refrigerant will cost anywhere from $150 to $300, according to AutoZone. It is possible to do it yourself for much less, but that’s where understanding the system comes into play. You do not want to overcharge the refrigerant. Far more serious problems, such as the need to replace the air condition compressor, could run you several thousand dollars. 

Trust the Technicians at Cochran Chevrolet Buick GMC

The technicians in our service department are here to help you keep your car on the road, in comfortable shape, for as long as possible. Our team provides certified repair and maintenance support for cars from all manufacturers—not just Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC. If you think your AC needs repair, call us at 330-965-7144, or click to schedule an appointment.

Cochran Chevrolet Buick GMC is a full-service dealership that sells a full inventory of both new and used cars. Our finance department can also help you find a loan with a monthly payment that fits your budget.