Car Air Conditioning Problem
Having trouble with your air conditioner? Don’t let your car turn into a sauna. Let’s do something about it so that you won’t feel like you’re in Sahara each time you step into the car. Here are a few steps for you to learn about how air conditioning works, why it might not work, and what you can (or cannot in this case) do about it.
First thing you should know and it’s very important. Under no circumstances are you to check for refrigerant by trying to stick something in the fitting because you risk releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere which is highly ILLEGAL. It’s also ILLEGAL to put more refrigerant into a system that is known to leak because of the same problem. Many repair facility will refuse to refill if they suspect any kind of leaks. Therefore they will attempt to repair the leaks in order to use refrigerant again.
What you need to know about the auto AC (air conditioning) is that it’s basically a refrigerator in a different “package”. Its purpose is to move heat from one place like the inside of your car to the outside. There are different models and designs of air conditioning systems but that’s not the place to discuss it. We just need the basic so that in case of a malfunction you may be able to carry an intelligent conversation to someone who is able to fix it, or otherwise fix it yourself.
Ok let’s look around at the major components of the air conditioning system. We have the compressor, which compresses the refrigerant and circulates it through the system. The refrigerant, a substance usually called R-134a which carries the heat. The condenser that morphs the refrigerant from the gas state to liquid and conducts the heat out of the car, the expansion valve (or orifice tube in some vehicles) which is like a nozzel used to controll the flow of refrigerant. The evaporator draws heat from the car and shifts it to the refrigerant, cooling the inside of the car and finally the receiver which functions like a filter for the refrigerant, its purpose is to remove moisture and other contaminants.
The first thing you need to do when your AC is malfunctioning is to check to see if you have cooling agent leaking out, so that there’s nothing in the loop to carry the heat away from the inside of the car. Leaks may be easy to spot, but they are not easy to fix as you need to pull the entire system apart. If the leak is big enough, the system is not going to have any pressure at all. Find the low side pressure value and with an gauge check the PSI level. DO NOT use anything else to poke in the valve. This is called venting and it’s ILLEGAL.
Another thing you need to check is that the compressor is running. Try starting the car and turning the air conditioning on and look under the hood. The compressor looks like a pump with large rubber and steel hoses attached to it. To help, search for one or two things that look like valve stems on a bike tire. If the AC is on and the blower is on, but the center of the pulley is not doing anything, then the compressor clearly has a problem. If this is the case than you would better get a mechanic to analyse the system cause any tinkering may cause serious damage to the compressor
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