AIR Conditioning & HEATING

Auto Air Conditioning - Keep Your Auto Air Conditioning in Top Shape

air conditions

You always expect your auto air conditioning to work when you turn on the switch, but did you know that there are several things you can do yourself to keep the air conditioning system in top shape?

Things to Check Under the Hood

Drive Belt

A drive belt makes the air conditioning compressor turn, and that keeps the cooling refrigerant circulating like it should. If the belt is worn, stretched or cracked it can slip or break — which stops the compressor. When that happens, circulation stops and the air conditioner quits cooling.
The drive belt and compressor are sometimes hard to find, especially in newer vehicles with covers and components that hide them. The next time you take the vehicle to Just7 Lube & Tune , ask the technician to show you where the belt and compressor are located.

Air Conditioning Condensere

The radiator. Refrigerant runs through the condenser and air flows across its cooling fins, removing heat from the circulating refrigerant.
If the fins become damaged or plugged up with debris, air flow is restricted, and that means heat isn’t removed properly. Restriction can also cause the vehicle to overheat. Check the fins periodically to make sure they are clean and in good condition.

Things to Check Inside the Truck

There aren’t any visual checks to perform inside the truck, but there are some signs to watch for that will alert you to developing problems.

Signs of Air Conditioning Problems
  • Wet carpeting on hot, humid days can indicate a clogged air conditioner drain. When the drain is working correctly you’ll see a good amount of water dripping to the pavement under the vehicle after you park.
  • A vibration or abnormal noise when the fan is on could indicate debris in the blower fan (mice like to make nests in fans).
  • A reduced amount of air coming out the vents, especially if it happens after driving for awhile, might mean the air conditioner’s evaporator is freezing up.
  • A musty or mildewy odor when the fan is first turned on, or all the time when the system is running, can indicate that mold or mildew is growing in the evaporator box.

You can reduce the buildup of mold and mildew by turning the A/C recirculation switch off when you park the truck. If your vehicle doesn’t have a recirculation switch, turn the A/C switch away from the “Max Air” position every time you shut the engine off.
Some vehicles will still develop a musty odor, Just7 Lube & Tune offer an evaporator cleaning procedure to eliminate the smell.

A Few More Auto Air Conditioning Tips
  • When you get into a hot car, roll your windows down a little for the first few blocks. If you have a recirculation button, make sure it’s turned off. After the hot air is gone, turn recirc on to get the most out of your system.
  • We’re all concerned with fuel mileage, but modern auto air conditioning systems are pretty efficient. Turning the A/C off results in minimal gas savings.

If you discover a problem with your truck’s A/C, take the vehicle to Just7 Lube & Tune.

How your heater and Air Conditioning A/C Works.

Without the heating and air conditioning systems in today’s modern vehicles, we would all be miserable driving to our destinations. We take for granted the heat that keeps us warm in the winter months, and the cool air that refreshes in the summer time. Let’s take a look at how both systems work to keep us comfortable all year round.

The heater in your car is basically a smaller version of your cooling systems radiator. Hot engine coolant is circulated through a small radiator, often times called a heater core. A fan is positioned in front of the heater core to blow cold outside air over the fins. As this air travels over the heater core, it heats up and becomes the hot air which blows out your heater vents.

Like your engines cooling system radiator, the heater core can suffer some of the same issues. If the heater core becomes clogged with rust or sludge, you will no longer have heat. Also leaks can cause a cabin full of white steam and really mess up your windows. If you smell the sweet aroma of coolant when your heater is on, chances are, you have a small leak in the heater core. Often times the heater core is buried under the dashboard, and replacing it, is a major job.

The air conditioning system in your car is comprised of a compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. If you have ever used a can of compressed air to clean computer components, you will know that the bottle gets very cold in a short amount of time. This is due to the rapid expansion of the compressed gas. The same thing happens in your car’s air conditioning system. Refrigerant (AKA Freon) is compressed in the compressor and turns into a hot gas. In the condenser, this hot gas is cooled to a liquid state and travels to the expansion valve. As the Freon goes through the expansion valve it returns to a low-pressure gas and rapidly cools in the evaporator. A fan blows over the evaporator and cools the air that eventually blows out your vents.

Common Problems:

  • From time to time the A/C system needs to be recharged to bring it back up to maximum efficiency. Sometimes a leak may cause loss of refrigerant and will need to be fixed before refilling. It’s difficult to tell if a leak is present without specific test equipment so let it up to a professional.
  • In recent years, the EPA has phased out the use of R-12 Freon in all refrigeration systems and R-134 has become the new standard. If you have an older system with R-12 you may need to retrofit your system to handle the new R-134 refrigerant. Sometimes seals, hoses and even the compressor need to be changed. The problem arises when the older seals and hoses are not compatible with the new oils found in the R-134.
  • Corrosion will cause the heater core (secondary radiator) to leak. This will manifest itself by leaving steam into the passenger compartment and fogging your windows. You will know there is a leak by the sweet smell coming from your vents. Unfortunately changing the heater core is usually not the easier job in the world as engineers tend to squeeze them into some pretty tight spaces under the dash.