July 6

5 Signs Your Vehicle Needs An A/C Inspection

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A/C Is Not Just A Creature Comfort That We Have Grown Accustomed To

I remember when I was talking with a customer about  some repairs she needed on her car. That conversation helped me realize how valuable a properly working A/C is for many people.  With a whole list of important things she wanted to get fixed, her A/C was the number one item! A/C is not just a creature comfort that we have grown accustomed to, it has become a valuable tool that allows us to be able to go through our day with less interruptions or inconveniences. For some people it’s as simple as not showing up to work with your shirt soaked through with sweat or being able to run errands without your groceries spoiling. For others it is something that can be vital to the safety of their children or pets on days that are dangerously hot.

Common A/C Issues

The air conditioning system uses refrigerant to make cold air. The most common reasons that you would not have cold air blowing from your vents would usually have something to do with the refrigerant or the refrigerant level.

The most common issue technicians see is there not being enough refrigerant. Refrigerant is in a gaseous state when being used in the A/C system and a small hole in a seal, gasket, or other A/C component can allow a leak and prevent the process of creating cold air.

Another common problem is A/C system contamination. Over time, the inside of the rubber A/C hoses can deteriorate and little pieces of rubber can clog up the small passageways and other parts of the vehicle’s A/C system and this prevents proper circulation of the refrigerant. 

Should I Get An Inspection? 

The first step if you are having trouble with your car not blowing cold air, is a thorough air conditioning system inspection to look for leaks and worn out parts. In fact, federal law requires an inspection before adding refrigerant. As you may know, refrigerant is not good for our environment. If you have suspicions that your A/C is having issues, you are probably right.

But to be sure, here are 5 signs that could indicate your A/C really does need an inspection:

5 Signs Your Vehicle Needs An A/C Inspection

  1. Air that is blowing warm or not as cold as it is supposed to be
  2. No air flow or restricted air flow 
  3. No water condensation drips underneath your vehicle (Water drips from the condensation that accumulates from your vehicle’s A/C is actually a good sign that it is functioning properly.)
  4. A scraping or rubbing noise coming from the belt area (AC Compressor Bearing Failure)
  5. When you only get cold air in the front and not the rear of the vehicle or only passenger side vs. only the driver’s side (Door Actuator Failure)

Charging The A/C System

Once any repairs are made, refrigerant is added. At the same time, special oil is added to the system. This oil cools and lubricates various components as it circulates along with the refrigerant. If you have a refrigerant leak, you also have an “oil” leak – and it's important that both are working together for proper function and protection of your A/C system. Each A/C system holds a specific amount of refrigerant and it must be filled to the proper amount and especially not overfilled (ie: system holds 3.2 pounds and it gets filled to 3.7 pounds). This can be dangerous nowadays because newer vehicles have more efficient systems that are made to run on less refrigerant. If a system has low refrigerant, then there is a “low pressure” safety switch built in to allow for the system to shut off before it does any damage. If a system has too much, this is where you can actually do damage to your system and create too much pressure for your A/C components to handle. The compressor, condenser, hoses, or other parts are only made to withstand the maximum allowance of refrigerant for that specific system. 

Extend The Life of Your A/C Compressor and Other Belt Driven Pulleys

An important component to consider when having an A/C inspection done, is your serpentine belt, which turns the A/C compressor. As the serpentine belt ages, it gets worn out and starts to slip on the pulleys. 

The belt tensioner is another important component to consider. The belt tensioner holds the belt tight when it turns all the pulleys on the side of the engine. When belt slippage occurs, it puts strain on the compressor. Replacing your serpentine belt and belt tensioner before it’s too late will extend the life of your A/C compressor and other belt driven pulleys. 

air conditioning compressor and serpentine belt diagram

The average A/C inspection takes less than an hour and is well worth your time. 

You deserve to not have hot air blowing from your vents! Get an inspection and get your vehicle’s A/C working properly so you and your family don't have to sweat it out this summer!  


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