With hot weather coming in many of us might start noticing that A/C in the car does not work that good or does not work at all. In winter time we do not turn it on that often. Readers, please, keep in mind that we are located in Colorado, and those that have been here in winter, especially Denver, will know that you do have to turn air conditioning on in winter sometimes. But usually with better weather coming some of us will notice that that much needed A/C does not operate. And when it gets hot, it is rather unbearable to drive without it. So in this post I want to talk a little bit about the A/C system of the car and make sure everyone understands why sometimes it will not work after winter, why and why even servicing your car sometimes might not help.
Air conditioning in our cars works thanks to freon that is a refrigerant that is responsible for regulating car's temperature. In modern cars R-134A freon is used but older cars can be found still working with R12 freon. It was discovered that R12 is harmful for the ozone layer and was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1994. Do not worry if you happen to be an owner of an older vehicle. Even if your car still has a A/C system that uses R12 there is a way to convert it to R-134A and it is really affordable so you can still keep your car cool and do not harm environment. This service runs around 125$-150$ dollars including A/C recharge, so is just a little more expensive than A/C recharge.
A/C service is considered to be maintenance service for any car that is why even if there is no leak, it might disappear over time and your air conditioning will stop working. If it happens rather often you might have a leak in your A/C service. And a leak is never your friend. In this case refrigerant leak is harmful for the environment and your car because bigger leak can cause damage for A/C compressor and evaporator. Leak can be a cause of external damage like accident or natural wear and tear of the components like o-rings, seals, a loose wire or broken A/C line or fitting.
So how A/C service is performed? Nowadays it is fairly easy because a machine does everything for you so it is way easier to identify a leak, check compression and recharge the system. The cost of the service is directly impacted by the cost of refrigerant itself since not only it is hard to get because of constant back orders but it also keeps a price of it high since there is a shortage of it. Nevertheless, when A/C service is performed you usually connect A/C machine to A/C lines and it will test the amount of freon present in the system determining if it is low in the very first, check pressure and leaks in the system. If there is a leak - it will notify of it and then it is technician's job and competence to find it. If there is no leak found but refrigerant is low, you simply recharge the system so car has enough of freon to keep air conditioning working. And if there is no leak and freon level is all good - your air conditioning problem is not leaked out refrigerant.
It is very important to understand that even if leak is not found, after recharging the system, your air conditioning might stop working a while any ways. That is why it is essential to always add dye for future diagnostic in case something like that happens. In this case, if the customer comes back, it is easier to track where the freon is leaking out. Sometime leaks are so small that machine does not identify them but it is enough to slowly leak out in a month or two. We had a situation with one of the customers car a while ago where we found his leak only from the third time because it was behind A/C compressor, so even dye was hard to spot!
No machine or person is perfect and cars are sometimes difficult to diagnose especially if there is no obvious indication for freon leak, it is invisible. That is why cooperation and patience is appreciated at all times. Hopefully, this post will help you understand A/C system better and see why sometimes it is not such an easy and fast repair. At Z Auto Service we will always be glad to take a look at your not working air conditioner problem and find cause of it for you! We are ASE and EPA certified and approved for that. So stop by, call us or email us to set an appointment for us to keep you cool in summer.