If Your Car AC is Not Working, Here Are Some Reasons Why

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While it’s not necessary to know the ins and outs of your car’s air conditioning system, some working knowledge can help you identify problems earlier. And although there are no DIY quick fixes for AC issues, knowing more can help you communicate better with an auto repair expert.

A Brief Overview of the AC System

Your car has an entire system that operates the AC. In a nutshell, this system circulates a chemical fluid or refrigerant, turning it from liquid to gas, back to liquid, and so on. Shifting from state to state should result in the desired cooling. The refrigerant changes states as it goes through the valve, evaporator, compressor, condenser, and other parts of the framework.

If a component of this system fails to change the refrigerant into the desired state, it may change the temperature of the air coming out of the AC. You might experience additional car problems if the coolant is blocked from reaching the right part of the system or leaks before it does.

It is important to know that this system is high-pressure. This means that a simple leak or faulty part can throw the whole system into disarray. It should also be protected from debris and particles from the outside that may contaminate it.

When to See an Auto Repair Specialist

When a car’s AC is faulty, there are some common signs that can help point to the cause of the problem. In all instances, please seek help from an auto repair shop as soon as possible.

When the Air is Not Cold

If your AC does not produce cold air, the refrigerant could be leaking. There could be a hole or rupture in one of the system parts. Finding this type of leak is tricky because refrigerants evaporate as soon as they come into contact with the outside environment. A professional can identify this leak using a variety of tools.

When the Air is Cool but Not Cold

Another problem that can occur when there is not enough refrigerant is your AC circulating air that is cool but not cold. However, if there is sufficient coolant but the issue persists, the cause could be a blocked or faulty condenser or clutch switch. You may have to replace these parts if any damage is found.

When Cold Air Changes to Hot

If the air from the AC starts off cold but unexpectedly changes to hot, the cause could be a failure in the expansion valve. When this valve fails or is blocked, the refrigerant or coolant cannot reach the evaporator as intended, and the valve itself could freeze.

When the Air Smells Foul

If you frequently have the AC on its maximum settings, the extra moisture can cause bacteria to grow in the system. This is also common in cars where the AC is rarely used and as vehicles get older. Bacteria, as well as fungi, mold, and other growths, produce an unpleasant odor.

A professional can help you replace AC air filters safely and remove growths and other particles from the system to remedy the problem.

When There Is Water on the Floor

Water or dampness on the floor of the passenger’s side is often caused by bacteria mixing with condensation in the AC system. The result is a slick film that blocks the hose responsible for eliminating excess moisture. Water then collects in the heater box and starts to drip on the car floor.

While the dampness usually occurs on the passenger side, it can also happen on the driver’s side. The important thing is to get your car to the auto repair shop as soon as you can for inspection and repairs. (Water on the floor of the car’s front seats also may be a result of a clogged sunroof drain tube.)

When the AC Is Noisy

Your car can produce noises for a range of reasons. But if the noise sounds when you turn on the AC, it could mean the system is blocked by debris, the bearing has suffered wear and tear, or there is a faulty component.

Take note of the specific sound it makes. Blockages can cause banging sounds and rattling, usually caused by the compressor’s clutch, and a worn-out bearing can make the AC system squeal or grind. More often than not, a professional inspection can point to the component that needs to be replaced.

When There Is No Air

If you turn on the AC and you cannot feel any air coming from the vents, a blockage may be preventing air from flowing in from the outside, or the vents are blocked from re-circulating the air from within the car.

If none of these is the cause, it may be a blown fuse that needs to be replaced. Damaged or faulty belts, hoses, or blower motors — which are responsible for pushing air through the vents — can also cause this problem. An auto repair specialist can identify the source and offer a solution.

Simple problems with your car’s AC can point to a number of issues in its complex system. Just keep in mind that if the air is not cold, it’s likely there is not enough coolant. Other problems are typically caused by faulty parts, excess moisture, and bacterial growth. In any case, consult an auto technician for expert advice.

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