Here are tips for maintaining your vehicle’s air conditioning:
Are you cold in the winter and hot in the summer? Well, chances are your air conditioning system is not working properly. And if it is, it may not be working to it’s maximum potential. Your air conditioning has a few important functions. Keeping you warm is one of them, keeping you cool and comfortable is another, and lastly, defrosting your windows so you can see and drive safely. Have you ever wondered how your air conditioning system works?
To keep you warm in the winter, you will notice that you do not get warm until your car or truck is warm. That’s because there is a heat transfer from the warm liquid in the engine to the air, that then gets to you and keeps you cozy. This is accomplished by the heater core. Cars typically have one heater core, whereas large SUV’s and mini vans can have two heater cores. A heater core looks just like your radiator with all the little aluminum fins, only it is much smaller and sits in the dash of your car or truck. It’s not visible and it is difficult to access for repair. As hot coolant flows through the heater core, a fan pulls air across the hot fins and then the warm air is directed to you through a lot of duct work in your dash. Then, magically, you are warm!
Now, it is important to keep up on your coolant flushes so that the old coolant does not corrode your heater core or cause it to clog, as this is a very expensive fix. One way to tell if your heater core is leaking is your carpet will be wet on the inside on either the driver or passenger side of the car or truck. Another is that your car may overheat if it gets low enough on coolant, causing catastrophic damage to the engine. It’s always a good idea to regularly flush your coolant, not just for the engine’s sake, but for all the rubber hoses and the aluminum heater core. Sometimes air pockets can form in the heater core causing you to lose heat in the cabin. This is an easier fix, but can be time intensive. The heat in your vehicle is really nice to have, especially here in Colorado Springs.
With our temperatures in Colorado Springs going up and down constantly, along with snow and rain occurring whenever it wants, its good to have your A/C working even if its not hot, but most importantly when it is hot! An A/C system is comprised of a compressor driven by the serpentine belt, the condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. The compressor compresses the refrigerant in your vehicle, so that is can eventually expand and cool down. The condenser is what sits in front of your radiator and looks almost identical to your radiator, only smaller. The condenser’s job is to get rid of heat from the compressed refrigerant. The expansion valve is where the magic happens. As the compressed gas that is warm expands, it cools down and gets really cold, just like when you spray key board cleaner on a keyboard. You will notice the can gets cold. As the gas expands rapidly, it cools down and that’s how we are able to stay cold in the summer. The evaporator is inside the cabin of the car and that is where air is pulled through to become cold. Again, an evaporator looks like a miniature radiator and its also where moisture is pulled out of the air so that it is dry air. Just like moisture on a cold soda can forms, it’s the same for the evaporator. Moisture forms on the cold evaporator and drips down and out of a tube on the bottom of your car. Sometimes people may think they have a leak because it is so humid outside and there is a lot of water running out of the car with the air conditioning running.
Lastly, the A/C system in your car has a lot of rubber O-rings, aluminum lines, seals and rubber hoses that can form leaks as the seals harden or damage occurs. It’s always good to have a leak test performed and find a leak before its too hot and unbearable in your car, so that we can do our best to keep those harmful gases from escaping into the atmosphere and keep them contained in our machines designed to handle refrigerant.
Come see the A/C pros at Honest Accurate Auto Service and let us help you and your family stay nice and cool this summer!