Troubleshooting a Troublesome A/C System in your Car


Air conditioning is one of the most essential items for many drivers today, even though it could still be considered by some as a luxury. Most cars, however, come with this feature, and it is nice to make use of on those hot, summertime days where the sun is beating down through your car windows all day long. If you want to continue enjoying the comfort of cool air on a miserable day, then you need to avoid what is commonly known as Black Death.

No, we’re not referencing a great plague, but rather a disruption caused inside of the compressor after the refrigerant has been broken down. When this happens, and the refrigerant has broken down, these sharp metal particles can make their way through the rest of the air conditioning system and wreak havoc. A lot of times, Black Death will claim the life of your A/C.

But there’s plenty that you can do to prevent this breakdown from happening in the first place. Schedule an A/C Performance Check with an auto mechanic in Ottawa today to keep your air conditioning system in excellent working order.

When your A/C has Weak Airflow

Sometimes the air coming through is cool, but you’re not getting the airflow necessary to properly cool the inside of your vehicle. There are a lot of things that can cause weak airflow in your air conditioning system, some more complicated than others:

  • The presence of mold or mildew in the evaporator core. This can be caused by residual moisture that occurs during the cooling process, and can make it difficult for air to reach the air vents.
  • A loose hose. This is most common with the blower hose that supplies air to the blowing unit.
  • Broken ventilation fans. If these fans are broken, they will not propel air as they should.
  • Core case seals, blower house seals or evaporator core case seals that have opened up and effectively diminish airflow. A/C vent systems are very sensitive and need to be properly sealed to work.

What you can do to Detect Early Problems

While there are no lights typically found in a vehicle to alert you of problems within your A/C system, some vehicles have Driver Information Centers that you can reference. The DIC displays status information for many of your car’s systems. You should check your owner’s manual for additional information.

When your A/C Just Isn’t Cold

An A/C system can start out blasting ice-cold air, but over time the coolness can diminish. If this is something that you’ve noticed in your vehicle, call a car repair shop in Ottawa today to get to the bottom of the problem.

There are lots of things that can cause your air conditioning system to run warm. Sometimes a simple fix is in order, but there could be more dire circumstances going on behind your air conditioning losing its cool.

  • Freon leaking due to a failed o-ring, seal, hose or other component of the A/C system.
  • Clogged expansion tubing, or a clogged refrigerant charging hose.
  • A failed compressor or compressor clutch.
  • A damaged blower motor or blower motor resistor.
  • Damaged or failed condenser or evaporator.
  • Vacuum leaks.
  • A failed switch, fuse, relay, control module, blend door or solenoid.

A leak can be a huge detriment to your A/C system, but if you catch it early with the help of your auto tech, the repair can be a minor and simple fix. The longer this issue persists, the more expensive and complicated a repair you’ll be dealing with.

When your A/C Starts out Cold, but then Becomes Warm

Just about any car owner can tell you that air conditioning systems can be incredibly fickle. Like almost anything else, the longer you let an issue slide the worse it will become. If your car is having the issue of not maintaining its cool, bring it in to an auto repair shop in Ottawa today to check for these potential causes:

  • A clogged expansion valve. The expansion valve serves the purpose of distributing the proper amount of refrigerant to the evaporator. If the refrigerant can’t flow as it’s supposed to because of a blocked valve, it will start to freeze. If moisture is present, the valve itself can even freeze.
  • A faulty compressor clutch. If the clutch is not working with your compressor, then the compressor cannot maintain the proper air pressure to ensure cool air.
  • A blown fuse. It is no surprise that fuses sometimes short out. If the fuse associated with the A/C system goes, the power to certain elements of the system will stop.
  • Leaks. Leaks are among the very worst things that can happen to your air conditioning system. They are typically caused by damage or the presence of moisture. When moisture and refrigerant mix together, corrosive acids will eat away at seals and other components of the system. This can cause leaks, which can cause big problems.

When the Air Coming from your A/C Stinks

Sometimes, the A/C might blast a smell that reminds you of a gym locker room. There are a few problems that can cause this smell when you kick on your air conditioning.

  • Dirty or old air cabin filter.
  • A moldy evaporator case. When water sits in the evaporator case, this happens because the drain has become blocked. This causes mold.

Testing for an A/C System Leak

There are actually a few pretty innovative ways to check your system for a leak.

  • Black light-enabled dyes. A lot of refrigerants are pre-mixed with a UV dye. This means that it shows up under black light. Running a black light over the A/C system will reveal if there is a refrigerant leak.
  • A “Sniffer.” A sniffer is a device that pinpoints the refrigerant’s chemical components. If there is a leak, an auto repair shop can sniff it out with this specialized tool.

The Causes of an A/C System Leak

Age and moisture are the two guaranteed contributors to an A/C system leak. Rubber seals and hoses lose their elasticity over time, which can cause a breakdown that allows Freon to escape while moisture enters your vehicle’s A/C system. When moisture mixes with the refrigerant, this causes a nasty corrosive acid that can inflict immense damage to your system.

Additionally, if moisture is present in your A/C system, it could also cause damage to the accumulator, receiver or drier. These devices remove moisture from the system and will stop functioning after a while of being exposed to a leaking or cracked system.

If your A/C system is displaying any of these problems,  it’s time to see the professionals! Call Ottawa auto repair specialist, Jim Dickinson Auto Tech today at 613-721-6244!


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