Do you think that it is time to add refrigerant to the A/C system in your vehicle? There was a time that if you turned on the A/C in the spring and if the air temperature seemed to warm, you would merely bring your vehicle into a repair shop and they would add some refrigerant. It was even considered normal for an air conditioning system to lose up to a pound of refrigerant each year.
The thinking on refrigerant loss has changed drastically since that time. That is because scientists have concluded that A/C refrigerant like R-12 and R134A are partially responsible for the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer. So in the mid 90’s car manufacturer’s were required to make their A/C systems more leak-resistant by using improved materials for lines, hoses, and seals. Federal and state regulations also require that repair shops have the correct equipment and training for handling refrigerant. So that an A/C system that is leaking does not continue to be filled so that it pollutes the environment.
To take care of the air conditioning system in your vehicle we recommend an annual inspection which would include:
- Inspect, adjust and/or replace A/C belt as needed.
- Clean radiator and condenser fins.
- Ensure the evaporator drain hose is open.
- Check that all system electrical connections are secure.
- Make sure vacuum control lines are connected properly and in good condition.
- Check duct outlet temperature.
- Check that all compressor hardware is intact and secure.
- Check the condition of all the lines and connections and make sure that they are tight.
- Test system pressures to make sure they meet specifications.
- Test low-pressure cut-out switch.
- Check for leaks after any A/C service is performed.
If the vehicle is low on refrigerant it can cause major damage to the A/C system. They rely on the refrigerant being at a sufficient charge to carry oil thru the system and keep it lubricated. If the compressor starves for oil it can cause a failure. Some warning signs are:
- Insufficient cooling from the vents.
- Unusual odors from the vents.
- Noisy belt, compressor or blower motor.
- A rhythmic clicking noise under the hood with the A/C or defroster on.
- An electric cooling fan that cycles on and off quickly.
- Window that won’t defog when using the defroster.
- Water on the floor of the passenger compartment.
Regular inspections can help catch a problem when it is still small, before it causes major damage to the A/C system. It is also a protection for our environment to keep an eye on our A/C system, so we don’t loose all the refrigerant to the atmosphere. So have it checked out regularly and if you experience any of the warning signs have a qualified shop with technicians certified to handle refrigerant, diagnose and repair it.