Let’s talk about air conditioning. Most of us in St. Louis don’t give our air conditioning a second thought as long as it works when we turn it on. But it’s a complex and expensive system that we should spend time thinking about before it starts blowing hot air.
The air conditioning system in your vehicle performs four basic functions: cooling, dehumidifying, cleaning and circulation of the air in the vehicle. As the refrigerant goes through all of the four phases of compression, condensation, expansion, and vaporization it goes through its own changes. During the condensation phase, heat transfers out of it and into the surrounding air and it expands, then when it evaporates, it absorbs heat to cool the air in the surrounding area. As the refrigerant runs through all of the phases of the cycle, it goes from liquid to vapor and then back to liquid and so on.
The main parts of the system are the refrigerant, the compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, a receiver-drier, blower and some switches and valves and an array of cooling lines and hoses. The compressor normally has some sort of magnetic clutch as well. The compressor in an AC system has special oil that is used to lubricate the compressor and the entire system. It actually mixes with the refrigerant and travels through the whole cycle to keep everything running. You may hear some of these parts named when you bring a vehicle in for AC service. If this oil leaks out with your refrigerant, your air conditioner may still make cold air, but the parts don’t have enough oil to protect them and they wear out faster than they should or things may start to clog up the tiny areas that the vapor has to travel. So it’s important to service the air conditioner as recommended by your service center.
Even with regular service, A/C parts can just wear out. Normal wear and tear eventually gets to all moving parts.
Addressing early problems can save on more extensive repairs down the road. For instance, a common failure is the clutch that turns the compressor on and off. If you can take care of a bad AC Clutch when it first starts having problems, you may be able to save the compressor. Wait too long and you’ll have to replace both.
Sometimes, when you first use the system at the beginning of the warm months, you may notice right away that things do not seem cool; but air is blowing, so it is hard to know for sure what is going on. Bring your vehicle to us and we will visually inspect the system for leaks and/or damaged parts, then fill the system with fresh refrigerant mixed with a dye that shows under ultraviolet light. The dye will mark any connections that might have suffered damage and are leaking and we can pinpoint the problem with greater accuracy to facilitate the best solution moving forward.
Give our service advisor at Jammin’ J Automotive a call for recommendations or to schedule an AC inspection, especially if you are hearing strange sounds when your air conditioning turns on, or even if it just isn’t as cold as it used to be.