In Australia with our hot dry summers and extreme weather conditions, a working air-conditioner in the car is essential! There’s nothing worse than turning on the air-conditioning when it’s 40 degrees C outside and all you get is a stream of hot and humid air. Unfortunately, keeping an eye on your air-conditioner and making sure that it’s well maintained is something that’s often ignored until it’s too late!
How often should you have your auto air-conditioning serviced?
You should have your auto air-conditioning serviced at least every two years by a qualified technician. This way any problems should be picked up before your air-conditioning dies on you! Hopefully this won’t happen in the middle of a hot summer, so it’s a good idea to book in for a service during spring, ensuring that your air-conditioning is ready for summer.
What can go wrong with a car’s air-conditioning?
The air-conditioning in new model cars should last you a long time and generally they don’t have parts that need to be replaced on a regular basis (unlike your car). However, no air-conditioner is perfect and faults do occur, which is why a regular service is a good idea. When your air-conditioner does stop working properly you will need to get it repaired by a mechanic. It’s generally one of the four following problems.
1. Leaking refrigerant
These are most likely to occur at joints or connections, but leaks have been known to occur through damaged hoses. Everything degrades over time and the heat, vapours and vibrations under the bonnet can all lead to hoses degrading and eventually leaking refrigerant. This is something that might be picked up during a regular service, but will always be identified by a qualified air-conditioner technician.
2. Faulty pressure switches
Some air-conditioning pressure switches not only measure the pressure within the system when it’s running, but also act as a cut-off switch if the pressures are too low. This cut-off switch acts as a safety switch, disabling the compressor and essentially turning off the air-conditioner. If the compressor doesn’t turn itself on when you activate it, this might be the cause of the problem.
3. Faulty receiver dryer
The receiver dryer is filled with a moisture absorbing material and not only acts as a temporary storage space for the refrigerant, but also acts as a filter to remove any debris and moisture from the system. A faulty receiver dryer can be the cause of refrigerant leaking, rattling noises in the system or a mouldy smell coming from the air vents when it’s in operation. Replacing a faulty receiver also needs the system to be re-gassed.
4. Faulty compressor
Most of the problems that result in the failure of a compressor can be picked up during an air-conditioning service, which is good to know, because replacing a compressor can be expensive. Problems that cause a compressor to fail include dirty condenser coils, blocked suction lines, leaking refrigerant (also too much refrigerant), not enough oil lubricant, contaminants in the system, and the wrong size suction hoses. A qualified air-conditioning technician should pick up all of these problems, before they damage your compressor.
A regular auto car service will check for obvious problems with your air-conditioning, such as visible evidence of refrigerant leaks or a faulty compressor. However, when your air-conditioning is running warm (when it should be freezing cold), you suddenly realise why a regular service by an air-conditioning technician is worth its weight in gold!