There’s one thing Colorado isn’t short of – sunny days. Colorado advertises 300 days of annual sunshine, mild temperatures, and record snowfalls – all of that makes it the perfect place to live, no matter how you like your weather.
Of course, once you live here, you have to drive in said weather. Those record snowfalls can be troublesome if you’re trying to get somewhere on time. And when the temperatures creep higher – 80s, 90s, 100s – you’ll be sweating it out as you make a break from your home to the car, and everywhere you choose to go.
But what if your car air conditioner doesn’t work when you need it most? You open up the windows, drive for a bit, and wait for the system to cool down. Only it never does, and you’re stuck roasting in a hot car, stuck to your leather seats.
Why won’t your car air conditioner work?
What is black death?
Imagine a sludgy, sticky, dark goo slowly flowing inside your car’s internal workings. As the refrigerant in your car’s air conditioning system breaks down, it slowly moves inside the compressor.
Refrigerant is a fluid that helps your car operate at its best. Think of it as the motor oil for your air conditioning system. But as this fluid breaks down, it thickens. And as it moves into the compressor, it gums up everywhere, including the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and all the moving parts.
And that sticky, grimy substance won’t just disappear. You have to replace the major pieces, and flush the lines clean. Yep, you guessed it, this isn’t an easy (or budget-friendly) process.
Of course, this is the worst case scenario. There are warning signs your car’s air conditioning system is having trouble long before it completely shuts down. Catch it early, and it’s a much easier (and less expensive) repair.
It starts with knowing your car’s air conditioner
From the moment you drive your car home, it’s important to take note of how it runs. Pay attention to the noises it makes, the feel of the drive, the smell as you turn different systems on. This is your base.
Two things make all the difference in keeping your car operating as it should.
1. Paying attention to changes – if you notice any change, don’t ignore it. The sooner you get it checked by one of our mechanics, the easier it will be to fix. And in most cases, a lot less expensive too.
2. Performing regular maintenance – along with oil changes and tune ups, if a mechanic completes a diagnostic test regularly, it can alert you to potential problems long before they create lasting damage to your vehicle.
These are the things you should watch for with your air conditioning system.
An air conditioner with weak airflow
Remember when your car was new, and you could barely handle the cold blast when you turned your air conditioner on high? Slowly, that blast has disappeared. The main causes of weak airflow include:
- A hose has come loose. Through all of its use, the blower hose that connects to the blower unit has wiggled free.
- The ventilation fan no longer works. If the fan is broken, it can’t push air through the system.
- Seals have been compromised. Think of all the rattling, clanking, and banging going on underneath the hood as you drive each day. Bumps, potholes, and even speed on the highway can slowly rattle connections apart. There are a variety of seals within the air conditioning system that can eventually wear down, such as the core case seal or the blower hose seal.
- Contaminants such as mold and mildew can build up over time. Water flows in the air conditioning system. That residue moisture from the cooling process sometimes accumulates. When this happens, mold and mildew can start to build. Not only will it impact the air flow, but it can also impact your health as it blows this contaminated air supply into your vehicle.
An air conditioner that isn’t as cold as it once was
Your air conditioner is still working … sort of. There is cold air, but it’s not as cold as it once was. That lack of cold air can be caused by a number of things.
- A failed blower motor
- A vacuum leak
- A failed switch or fuse
- A damaged condenser or evaporator
- A failed compressor
- A clogged refrigerant hose
- A refrigerant leak
When one part of the air conditioning system no longer works, it throws the entire system off. If you’re experiencing an air supply that isn’t as cold as it once was, chances are there’s a problem somewhere in the system. Even the smallest leak can quickly escalate into a major repair.
An air conditioner that smells bad when you turn it on
This goes beyond the smell you first get when you turn it on for the first time. If you continually notice an odorous smell that resembles an old gym locker, it could be:
- A dirty air cabin filter
- A moldy evaporator case
Because the system has been compromised, you’ll continue to get that smell until you fix the system.
Is there a way to test for an air conditioner leak?
Since one of the biggest reasons for an air conditioner problem is a leak somewhere in the system, there are a few ways you can test to find out where it’s starting from.
The first way is by using a fluorescent dye. This is the least expensive and does a good job at detecting a leak. However, if the leak is tucked away from your line of vision, it can be difficult to detect.
The second way is with a sniffer. This is a tool that is placed near a suspected problem area to find the leak. When it finds a refrigerant leak, it emits a warning signal to the user. A faster beep means the leak is larger in size.
Both of these are dependent on knowing your vehicle and how it operates. You can trust one of our mechanics to find the root of the problem, and offer you the best solution to fix your car’s air conditioning problem.
Why fix your air conditioning problem right away?
Because the longer it goes unfixed, the bigger the potential problem can grow. If left unchecked, it can further damage your air flow system, and spread into other systems throughout your car. If a leak or crack turns worse, corrosion can occur on other parts, belts and lines can snap, doing further damage to parts nearby.
Are you set for the summer season with your air conditioner? How can we help you stay cool no matter how high the temperatures climb?