Your air conditioning system designed to keep you and your passengers cool and comfortable during the warmest months must undergo repetitive maintenance to ensure a long lifespan and high performance. Most do not sit and think about how the air conditioning system works. Instead, we just cut it on when we need it. If there were a better understanding of how it works, then most would think about the importance of regular air conditioning maintenance by staying on top of fluids and inspections to reduce premature AC repair. A vehicle's AC system is made of such parts: the compressor, condenser, accumulator, thermal expansion valve, and evaporator. All have different responsibilities that cater to the function of the A/C system.
The Role of Each AC component
The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant that cools the air and moves the air to the condenser. In turn, the condenser reduces the temperature and pressure of all hot gas that may come from the refrigerant and then transfers that cooled liquid to the accumulator. The existence of the accumulator depends on the vehicle model type simply because this component is only there if there is also a thermal expansion valve. This specific part separates the gas from the liquid while the accumulator monitors and controls the amount of refrigerant that goes into the evaporator that stores any excess refrigerant, blocks debris, and removes unwanted moisture. The thermal valve that works hand in hand with the accumulator controls the amount of pressure and temperature of the AC system and determines the amount of refrigerant that should go into the evaporator. The last possible component of an AC system is the evaporator which is in complete control of keeping the air cool by working with the refrigerant before blowing it into the vehicle's vents.
Main Causes for Repair
The AC system goes through a thorough process of using hot air and turning it into cold air using refrigerant and pressuring that cooled air into the vents so that each ride is comfortable. Several indications signal that one of the functions is not working correctly, which allows the operator to invest in AC repair. Some of the leading causes of a failing AC system:
- Leaking refrigerant
- Failing compressor
- Mold or mildew buildup on the evaporator core
These failures can play a part in some of the signals a vehicle may give if it is time to make AC repairs. Freon is the liquid refrigerant in each vehicle that cools the heated air. If a driver notices Freon leaking from the cooling system, that may be a sign that the AC system needs repairs. Any small hole or crack that allows leakage can prevent the air from cooling. If you are operating your vehicle and notice strange noises, foul odors, a damp floor, or temperature changes, these are also signs of AC repair. Rattling, banging, or humming can indicate a failed compressor clutch or another major component failure. Musty, moldy, and mildewy smells are usually due to dirt, debris, or all three building up within the AC vents. The AC evaporator unit draws in warm air and permits water vapor to drain onto the road during operation. If the evaporator unit gets clogged with debris, there is nowhere else for the water to go. In turn, water leaks onto the vehicle's floor and creates moldy odors. When a driver notices that the air runs cold and then warm, that can also be due to a small refrigerant leak because, over time, any loss of coolant will result in less cooled air or a blown fuse within the actual AC unit.
What Can the Driver Do?
Professionals recommend three preventative steps that keep an AC unit from breaking down. The first step is checking the air filter monthly to make sure it is free of any debris that will clog up the process. Secondly, run the AC once a week for ten minutes because stimulating the compressor helps keep it alive. Thirdly, get a full AC service. Regular maintenance guarantees the vehicle stays on top of minor damages that may cause leaks and require extensive repairs if left alone. If these listed signs appear, bring the vehicle to a qualified professional who can make any necessary AC repairs or refill fluids.