Everything including humans requires regular maintenance after a stipulated span of time. Then why leave the car AC? The air conditioning unit is one of the best features and one of the topmost priority of what you may look while buying a new car. After a few months or maybe a year, you may have felt that the car AC is not as effective as it used to be. You may even have experienced slight suffocation when the car AC is running. This is when the time for getting your car AC serviced has arrived. But what happens if you keep running the AC even after these problems? This is what we’ll be dwelling on in this article. Let’s get started.

First things first, How does a car AC work?

The working mechanism
The working mechanism

A car AC basically consists of 5 major components that are responsible for cooling your car in summers and warming it up during the winters. These components are:

  1. Compressor
  2. Condenser
  3. Receiver Dryer or Accumulator
  4. Orifice Tube or Expansion Valve
  5. Evaporator

Compressor

It will compress the refrigerant gas which is commonly known as Freon. As the kinetic energy of the gas increases due to compression, it becomes hot.

Condenser

The hot and pressurized gas is then passed through a series of coils which use the air from the outside to cool the gas down. This, in turn, will lead to condensation of the gas into a cold liquid. There are two types of condensers available:

  1. Non-serpentine Condenser: It is a parallel style one. It cannot be flushed thus it must be replaced if not working.
  2. Serpentine Condenser: It is a better one as it can be flushed using the car AC flush kit.

Receiver Dryer or Accumulator

You must have got the idea of what this canister does from the name. The basic job is to dry the air. There is a desiccant to absorb the moisture.

Orifice Tube or Expansion Valve

This valve provides resistance to the flow of refrigerant. This causes the refrigerant to change from a high-pressure liquid into a low-pressure mist before it enters the evaporator.

Evaporator

The low-pressure liquid refrigerant mist flows through the evaporator where a blower motor pushes air across the cold tubes of the evaporator to send cooled air into the passenger compartment of the car.

This is how you get the cold air. But what happens when you don’t get the air cold enough?

Why do I need to service my air conditioning?

It is not at all necessary that you go to a local workshop in order to get you AC inspected. There are few basic indications you can check for inspecting your car’s AC at your own.

  • Start your car and when the engine is warmed up enough (check the temperature gauge of the engine) turn the air conditioning on at the maximum output. Carefully listen and check whether there are any unusual noises coming out from the AC system. This can be knocking sounds or sounds of something blocking the air canal. Note: Don’t switch your car’s AC on a cold engine as it will affect the efficiency.
Check whether the engine is warm enough
Check whether the engine is warm enough
  • The second thing you need to check is whether the air pressure is in sync with the level AC is set at? Is the air coming out of the AC too cold? If the answer to any of these two questions is yes, then the AC definitely requires service.
  • Another indicator is the smell. Is there an odd smell coming out of the vents? If yes, then there is a possible leak in the air conditioning system.
  • The final inspection which can be done at your end is the compressor. A proper working one will make a clicking sound (which means that the compressor is engaging and disengaging). If there are any other sounds, then probably the compressor is to be blamed.

What are the symptoms of a bad AC compressor?

There are a few signs you can look for if you think the AC compressor is not working properly. Let’s have a look at them.

  • Is cabin temperature higher than normal?

    Car AC service | Higher Cabin Temperature?
    Car AC service | Higher Cabin Temperature?

    It is the first and the easiest way to find out whether the compressor is working properly or not. If the temperature inside the cabin is high, it means that the compressor is not working up to the extent it used to. A damaged compressor won’t be able to regulate the refrigerant properly which will result in non-uniform cooling of the car.

  • Hear loud noises when the compressor is running?

    Noises from the compressor?
    Car AC service | Noises from the compressor?

    This is another potential symptom of a failing AC compressor. It also consists of various moving parts which may wear out with the time. This will cause high pitch grinding sounds or a noticeable belt squeal.

  • Is the compressor clutch not moving?

    Many of you may not be familiar with the working of the compressor. In simple terms, a compressor is powered by the engine itself by the means of a belt. This belt is in motion as long as the engine is running. When the AC is switched on, the clutch is engaged and the compressor starts working. If the clutch is damaged or stuck, the compressor won’t work. The movement of the clutch is easily visible and thus can be inspected easily for any faults.

Why does my car AC smell?

Why does my car AC smell?
Why does my car AC smell?

If you notice any sort of smell coming from your car’s AC, it’s probably the evaporator that is to be held responsible. There can be a build-up of mould, fungi, bacteria or other things you won’t love to hear about. The most common smells that come from the vents are Wet socks, Rotten eggs or vinegar-like smell. If the bad smell is not enough for you to get your car’s AC inspected, then you should also know that the spores from bacteria will enter the cabin and then your lungs. Now that’s disgusting!

How long does it take to service the car AC?

The car AC service usually takes around 3-4 hours. There are many steps included in the servicing:

  • First of all, the residual gas is removed from the air conditioning system.
  • The dashboard is removed and the cooling coil is taken out.
  • The coil is then cleaned and fitted back. After this, the dashboard is set back to its place.
  • AC vents are then cleaned to ensure that there is no hindrance to the airflow due to the vents.
Cleaning of air vents
Car AC service | Cleaning of air vents
  • The bumper is then opened where we can find a condenser. The condenser is removed and cleaned properly.
  • The cleaned condenser is placed back and the bumper is refitted. The gas is filled and the service is done.

It may be noted that although the inspection can be done at home (though it is advised to get it done from professionals), servicing should not be tried at home. The service of car AC requires to be precise as if there is any leak in the system, it would result in failure.

How often should a car AC be serviced?

Whenever you get your car serviced, get the AC checked. If there is any issue in the air conditioning unit then you will need to have it serviced. On average, the car AC should be serviced after a year or so.

How do I know if my AC needs Freon?

In an ideal situation, your car’s AC will never require a refill of Freon. But the reality is different. If there is a leak in the channel anywhere, you will have to refill the refrigerant. All you need to check is whether the cooling is enough or not. If the answer is no, then you will have to get the refill. Also, find out if there is a leak by carefully checking for any hissing sounds.

What happens if my AC runs out of Freon?

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What will happen if there is no blood inside the body? It’s the same when it comes to no refrigerant in the air conditioning. Although the mechanical parts of the AC will work, the cooling power will be lost and then the system will start to sustain serious damages.

These damages will result in higher costs of repairing or even replacement of some parts. The compressor will overheat or may even burn out thus leading to the whole system to be replaced.

Thus it is advised that if you find any issues, don’t test the patience of your car’s AC and get it checked and serviced as soon as possible.

Suggested read: How to get the Maximum Cooling from your Car AC | Car AC tips & tricks

What are the symptoms of an overcharged AC system?

Have you got your car’s AC serviced recently and feel like the cooling is more than it should be? Then probably the technician has filled more than the required amount of Freon or in short, the AC system is overcharged. Thus it is always advised to check whether you are going to a professional car service.

What refrigerant is used for car AC?

There are different types of refrigerants that are used in the car AC. Originally, R-12 Freon was used but when it came to the knowledge that the R-12 Freon depletes the ozone layer, it was discontinued.

Instead, R-134A is used which is an effective refrigerant and causes no harm to the ozone layer.

Can a dirty air filter cause car AC not to cool?

The answer to the above question is a definite YES. If the air filter is not clean, the airflow gets restricted and thus the efficiency will surely reduce. Also, dirty filter means a build-up of allergens which will cause health problems when they will enter through the air. Thus it is strongly advised to get your air filter checked.

Clogged AC filter badly affects performance and cooling. It is the most simple thing that you can do yourself to maintain your car’s AC. Just take the air filter out and clean it regularly. If the filter is too clogged, you should go for a replacement.

What happens when you don’t service your car AC? | Verdict

Car AC service
Car AC service

So it must be clear now that the car’s AC should be serviced and you should not take any chance with the AC. It is a vital part of your vehicle and thus should be checked regularly or else hot summers won’t let you survive.

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