How well is your aircon working?

05 October 2020 /

Have you checked your vehicles air conditioning lately? Is it still working well?

Everyone would agree that there is never a good time for your car air conditioning to stop functioning, especially in the middle of summer. If your vehicle air con is not working well as it should be or has totally stopped functioning, you can call your trusted auto garage to fix your problem. In the meantime, you can still drive around with your car with the windows open.

If you have adequate knowledge and skills to get your air conditioning in tiptop shape, you can have it running back in no time. But if you have no time to do it yourself or if you are not equipped with some relevant knowledge, better leave that matter to the experts. 

How to Check your Vehicle Aircon

It is advisable to check your air conditioning even before the summer season arrives. Make sure that it is blowing off cold air and functioning properly. Today, we will share some tips on how you can check the condition of your vehicle AC but before you will start anything, please be reminded to take extreme precaution. When the engine is running and you want to check what’s under the hood, be very careful. Your hands, hair, eyes and clothing must avoid any rotating parts to avoid any kind of mishaps.

  • Does the compressor clutch activate when the air conditioning is switched on while the engine is running? If not, this may signify that you have inadequate or empty refrigerant. It may also signify an electrical issue. Try to listen for rapid noises at the compressor when the air conditioning is switched on because this may also signify inadequate refrigerant or other issues. Have your air conditioning system checked by a reliable and trusted car mechanic. Please take note that some air conditioning systems prevent compressor clutch activation when temperatures are below 4 degrees Celsius.

  • Is your air conditioning blowing off cold air? If not, this may signify an inadequate or empty refrigerant charge in the air conditioning system. In order to check the refrigerant charge, you can use pressure gauges. If the pressure gauge indicates low levels, refrigerant can be added to the air conditioning system to fully charge it.

  • When you switch the engine on and switch the air conditioning system off, can you hear knocking sounds near the compressor? If yes, this could signify a faulty compressor clutch or detached mounting hardware.

  • Check your air conditioning system mounting bolts. Are they in place and secured tightly or are they detached and jiggling around?

  • Check your air conditioning system service ports. Are they covered with caps? These caps keep dirt away from the system and keep the refrigerant sealed inside the air conditioning system.

  • Have you checked your belts for any kind of wear and tear? If there is glazing, wear or cracks, have them replaced as soon as possible. Does your belt vibrate when the engine and air conditioning system is switched on? This could signify a loose belt that needs to be tightened or the automatic belt tensioner is defective. 

  • Have you checked your air conditioning system hoses? Look for any signs of leakage, abrasions, weak spots or cuts. When there is a leak in the air conditioning system, oil and dirt tend to accumulate at the fittings and connections.

  • Check your condenser (the component in front of the radiator). Are there any obstructions like leaves, paper, plastic or insects? Obstruction could result in reduced airflow in the system, therefore reducing the performance of your air conditioning system. You can manually take away dirt or debris or use a garden hose to rinse it clean.

What do I need to know about car diagnostics?

Most of the vehicles that run on our streets nowadays are powered by fuel-injection. They have internal functions like ignition systems, fuel injection systems, and automatic transmission systems that are regulated by computers. The computers receive several data from various sensors and use that data to enhance the combustion process. 

If, for instance, a sensor in your car would report a certain problem, a light on your dashboard will illuminate and urge you to get run a diagnostic test. Reliable car diagnostics will be able to tell you how long the malfunction has been happening and how many times it has been happening. It will also tell you if the malfunction is a chance occurrence or a problem that needs to be addressed at the soonest possible time. 

Not all car problems will be indicated on your dashboard as an illuminating light. So it is advisable to have your car regularly checked.

How to Diagnose Your Car’s Aircon

To diagnose any vehicle issue, you need to understand how the air conditioning system works and what its components are. To put it simply, your car air conditioning system works similarly to your home air conditioning or refrigerator. Its main function is to remove hot air from your car. It is made up of the following components:

Compressor. The function of the compressor is to add pressure to the air conditioning system and allow the refrigerant to circulate. It occupies the front of the car engine and is powered by the main drive belt.

Without the compressor, your air conditioning system will not work and the refrigerant won’t circulate. If not used for a long period of time, it tends to malfunction because it overwhelms the system (especially after being dormant all winter long).

To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that you run your air conditioning system for at least 15 minutes on its maximum capacity every three weeks, no matter what the outside temperature is. This will keep the compressor working fine and extend its lifespan.

Condenser. The function of the condenser is to remove the heat that is absorbed by the refrigerant. It occupies the front of the radiator. 

If there is nothing blocking it, it is possible that the condenser is broken. It may be caused by equipment breakdown or road debris puncturing it. If there are visible punctures, the issue can be fixed by replacing it altogether. 

If your condenser is blocked, it won’t be able to absorb the heat coming from the refrigerant. This will cause your air conditioning system to blow hot air. If you see any blockage upon visual inspection, you can manually remove it and solve the issue.

Evaporator. The function of the evaporator is to absorb the heat coming from the inside of the car. It occupies inside the dash of your car.

Metering device. The function of the metering device is to change the air conditioning pressure from high to low. This is also otherwise known as the expansion valve or metering tube. It occupies an area under the dash or under the hood adjacent to the firewall.

Lines or hoses. The function of lines or hoses is to carry the refrigerant throughout the air conditioning system.

Refrigerant. Most air conditioning systems nowadays utilise the R-134A refrigerant although older models still use the R-12 (it has high levels of compounds that deplete the ozone). 

A leaking refrigerant can happen at any time and it is sometimes difficult to troubleshoot this issue. The common areas where leaks can be found are at the line or hose connections. Sometimes, an oily residue can be seen around these connections which may indicate the source of the leak. A sealant specially designed for air conditioning systems can be applied to solve this problem. 

Cooling fans. If your cooling fans are malfunctioning, the entire system won’t be able to cool the inside of your car. Visually inspect your cooling fans if there are any cracks or debris that keep it from rotating properly. Sometimes, the issue is caused by an electrical problem or blown fuse. You may have to call your trusted car mechanic to address this issue.