Your car’s AC system

So here we are, in the heart of the summer! Everything is green, birds are singing! It’s the time of the year you find out if your AC works or not in your car. There’s nothing worse on the first hot day than pushing that button or set- ting the temp to low, and all you get is warm air… Ugh! Your AC isn’t working.

You have a few options. First, it needs to be diagnosed. It could be an electrical issue. It could also be you’re low or out of refrigerant. It could also be operator error (yes it happens). Your car’s AC system is designed to prevent the AC compressor from coming on if the AC charge is low. This protects the components of the system. If the air coming out isn’t cold enough to cool your car down, you may just be low on refrigerant. In my experience, most cars need AC service every four to five years. So here are some solutions.

Many of us have seen the little cylinders of refrigerant at the local auto parts store. You can shoot a can of that in your system and it may work! My suggestion is not to take this route. Your AC system is designed for a specific quantity of gas. When it is properly recharged, the system is pulled into a deep vacuum. This removes all the remaining gas, oxygen, and any moisture that may have settled in the system. Also, when the system is in a deep vacuum the technician holds it there for a duration to check for leaks.

It may be a few bucks cheaper to try and do it yourself, but a system will only operate at its peak performance if the job is done right. Not to mention the possibility of damaging sensitive components. For the most part, this column is referring to vehicles that have an R-134 AC system. Older vehicles and newer vehicles are an entirely different ball game. Take your AC deprived vehicle to your automotive service center. When it’s repaired you’ll drive away cooler and have peace of mind.

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