How to Troubleshoot Your Vehicle's Air Conditioner
Spring and summer bring warmer temperatures that can make driving uncomfortable if a vehicle does not have a properly functioning air conditioner. If your air conditioner is on the fritz, use the troubleshooting tips below to determine what the problem is and how to fix it.
Only Cool Air Is Produced
When you turn the air conditioner on, does it blow out cold or cool air? On the maximum setting, cold air should be produced. Cool air production is a common problem that is easily remedied.
- Locate the vehicle's condenser and ensure that there is no debris blocking air from entering the condenser.
- Turn on your vehicle and inspect the condenser to ensure that it is operating sufficiently. If the condenser is not running, you need air conditioner repair.
- Behind the vehicle's glove box, there should be a cabin air filter. A cabin air filter will need to be changed every 2 years to ensure that it is never clogged.
There are various other reasons why cool air may be produced by an air conditioner instead of cold air. Among these reasons are:
- A lack of Freon
- A vacuum or Freon leak
- A failed evaporator, compressor or condenser
- Air comes out cool and eventually becomes wrm
A properly operating air conditioner will always blow cold air out of a vehicle's vents. When an air conditioner blows cold air at first and eventually starts blowing warm air, this indicates a more serious problem.
Leaking coolant will cause the air conditioner to not be able to produce cold air in a sustained manner.
A clogged valve or a broken compressor clutch may also be the culprit.
There is also a slight possibility that a blown fuse is the issue. A mechanic will need to be consulted during this time to either refill the refrigerant or pinpoint the issue with your air conditioner.
Common Areas to Inspect
In some cases, you may not know what is causing your air conditioner function poorly. When there is an issue with your air conditioner, you will find that the vast majority of problems occur with system leaks.
- Inspecting for leaks is the fastest way to pinpoint a problem and can be done with ease. Inspect all hoses and fittings to ensure that no visible leaks are seen.
- Dye can be placed inside of the system to locate hard-to-find leaks. This dye will be only visible when a black light is used. Locate and inspect the front seal, valves, 0-rings and condenser pin holes.
Mechanics recommend yearly air conditioner checkups for most vehicles. A yearly inspection will allow the mechanic to spot leaks early on and ensure that the refrigerant levels are optimal. The ideal time to have an air conditioner checkup or tune-up performed is in the beginning of the spring before the weather becomes too hot.
Common signs that your vehicle's AC unit needs to be checked by a professional include:
- The AC blowing hot or warm air
- Strange odors are smelled when the air conditioner is on
- The condenser is not operating appropriately
- The AC does not produce cold air steadily, or turns off
- There is a visible leaking of coolant seen under the vehicle after running the air conditioner