Checking, Cleaning & Refueling the Car Air Conditioner
High humidity, heat, and spontaneous air conditioner refueling points along the roads are faithful companions of the approaching summer. Should you use their services? How to properly fill a car air conditioner, and is it possible to solve the problems with interior cooling on your own? We understand the features of the maintenance of the most important summer machine unit.
Self-diagnosis of the air conditioner
Although special equipment is needed to fully diagnose a car air conditioner (for finding freon leaks, checking the compressor and electronic control units), some of the reasons for its poor performance can be identified on your own. And sometimes eliminate them on your own.
Where to start checking the air conditioner? When you turn on the fan and press the A / C (Air Conditioner) button under the hood, the compressor should start. Its operation can be determined by ear and feel: there will be an additional load on the engine, the idle speed will slightly change. If the compressor starts up, that’s good news: at least its clutch and control units are in order. Now let’s see why it may not cool the interior effectively enough.
The simplest and most easily removable cause is a clogged cabin filter. Sometimes it is so clogged that the airflow simply cannot flow efficiently into the passenger compartment. An indirect symptom of filter problems is quickly fogging windows in the rain. With the replacement of the cabin filter and it is worth starting a car air conditioning service – it certainly won’t be worse.
Another common reason for poor air conditioning is a radiator clogged with insects, foliage, and poplar fluff. A separate air conditioner radiator is usually installed next to the main engine cooling radiator, and road dirt actively collects in the space between them. Rinsing it out at the car wash is another obvious step in the fight to keep it cool. But this must be done with caution: from a close distance, a jet of water under pressure can bend the soft honeycomb of the radiator. Sometimes, for full access to the radiator of the air conditioner, you need to remove the front bumper.
If the cabin filter and the radiator of the air conditioner are clean, but there is still no desired coolness from the air ducts, most likely there is not enough refrigerant in the air conditioning system (freon R134a is used in cars). At a critically low level of freon, the compressor will not turn on at all – the built-in protection will work. And here you cannot do without the help of specialists.
How to Fill the Air Conditioner Correctly?
An air conditioner is the same unit of a car as a power steering or brake system, with its line and working fluid (gas). And it needs to be serviced in an appropriate professional environment, and not on the side of the road.
In a car air conditioning service, mechanics connect a special station to the car for refilling the air conditioner and perform a full-fledged diagnosis: check the residual amount of freon and, if necessary, evacuate the system. In the process of pumping freon, the station records the exact amount of gas, pressure drops, and other service parameters. At the slightest suspicion of a leak, the masters search for it using a special device – a leak detector (freon catcher) – and eliminate it.
In a good auto air conditioning service, more expensive freon is also used with the addition of oil for high-quality lubrication of all elements of the system. Or oil is poured in separately if this is provided for by the compressor design.
Cleaning the Evaporator of the Air Conditioner
Alas, even a fully charged and properly working air conditioner can “delight” the driver and passengers of the car with an unpleasant smell. During the operation of the air conditioner, condensation forms on its evaporator. In a humid environment, bacteria proliferate, and mold forms, causing a stench.
To clean the air conditioner evaporator with your own hands while air con service, there is special auto chemistry with an antibacterial effect. For example, aerosol cleaner for air conditioners. The agent is sprayed according to the instructions into the niche of the cabin filter, the air ducts, and the drain tube of the evaporator, quickly destroying the sources of unpleasant odors – mold, fungus, and bacteria.
To completely clean the ventilation system, it is advisable to dismantle the frill – the plastic casing under the windshield – and remove the leaves, tree buds and insect remains that have accumulated there. It is also worth spraying a cleaner into the outside air intake slots.
Service your car air conditioner correctly, breathe clean air and enjoy the coolness even on the hottest summer day!