Air conditioning repair can be expensive, as the system is very complicated and hooks up to other major parts of the car like the electronics and the powertrain. A faulty air-con does not always need a major overhaul though if you can correctly analyze what is making it act up.
So you are heading out for office and notice that the day is rather sweltering. Thank God for the air conditioning in your car. You enter your vehicle, crank it up, and set the A/C blower to high. To your dismay, the vents are spewing out hot air. You feel a sinking feeling in your stomach because you know repairing the air conditioning system will run you huge bills. Fret not, for most common air-con problems are easily rectifiable for relatively less cash.
First of all, think over how your car’s air conditioner has been acting over the past few days, up to the last two weeks. When did it last blow cold air? Did it start blowing hot air gradually or just started today? Does the engine make weird noises when you turn your A/C on? If that is the case, seek professional help immediately. Many times, it so happens that the compressor clutch has decoupled, which is quite an easy fix.
The most common reason for an air-con to gradually stop blowing cool air is a refrigerant leak. In cars over five years old, the rubber O-rings that seal the different components of the air conditioning system become brittle and inelastic, leading to the slow leaks. This can be cured by adding a refrigerant with a proven stop-leak additive and O-ring conditioner. Some top-rated refrigerants also contain special lubricants that help extend the life of the compressor.
As an added measure, inspect your car’s air-con unit to check whether it has dust caps over its service ports. These seemingly insignificant parts are actually integral components of the cooling system that insulate the refrigerant from pollutants and particulate matter which can choke the air-con. If you are missing the dust caps, have them installed immediately.
In yet other cases, pin-sized holes form on the metal components of the air-conditioning system. The dryer, evaporator, and condenser are metallic and are susceptible to the formation of pin-holes which cause slow leaks. These components require a special sealant to stop the leaks. Such sealants circulate directly within the air-con system of the car in liquid form until they arrive at a pin-hole. As soon as the sealant comes in contact with moisture or outside air through the hole, it solidifies, forming a permanent seal around the hole. An added benefit of this type of sealant is that there is still enough circulating to seal up future leaks in the metal parts of the system.
Simply put, if your A/C has suddenly decided to blow warm air and your engine is making weird noises with the air-con turned on, or if you have determined that the compressor clutch is not cycling on, seek professional help immediately. On the other hand, if the air-con is slowly getting warm over an extended period of time, then there are no major problems in the system. You can deal with such issues yourself.
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