A summer steam bath. That’s what it feels like we’re living in when the temps spike and the humidity peaks—and what we’re driving in. If you’re driving in a steam bath inside your car because your AC doesn’t work (or partially works), it’s only natural to find some relief from the heat.
Common causes of Car AC problems
The compressor is one of the most important parts of your AC system, and the source of many truck and car AC failures. A failing compressor can be very noisy, especially if a compressor internal bearing is at fault. In addition to the noise, one of the first symptoms of a compressor that’s giving out is air that blows into your car that isn’t as cool as it once was. A failing compressor can lead to irreparable damage to your condenser, meaning both your compressor and condenser needs replacement.
On one of the most common myths (with an emphasis on myth) is that over time refrigerant evaporates out of the system and needs to be recharged. The truth is that a truck or car AC system is a sealed system. If your system is low on refrigerant (or has no refrigerant at all), most likely there is a leak in the system. Recharging an AC system with a leak is only a very temporary fix.
There’s more bad news: a truck or car without refrigerant (or low refrigerant level) can cause the compressor to give out, which can also cause the condenser to fail. If you suspect your car has low refrigerant, contact your mechanic to repair the refrigerant leak and prevent system failure.
If you’re not an experienced mechanic, a failing condenser can be harder to diagnose. The most telling sign of a failing car AC condenser is a system that’s not working as efficiently as it used to. Usually, when a condenser fails, it starts to leak—more so than the regular drip of a working car AC system.
Car evaporators are susceptible to a host of problems. At the least, debris that comes in contact with the evaporator core can cause the air-conditioned air that comes out of your vents to smell horribly. At the most, an evaporator can fail from corrosion and leaks.
How you can prevent car AC problems
Don’t procrastinate when the air in your vehicle starts blowing hot or the air flow from your AC weakens. As soon as you start experiencing problems with your car or truck’s AC, schedule an appointment to have your problem diagnosed. If you wait too long (which isn’t that long), your problem is only going to worsen—and your repair bill increase—because a small problem in your AC system can cause other parts to fail. Avoid tackling the problem as a do-it-yourself project; improper handling can damage the environment, your car, or could even injure you. Remember, the sooner you get your truck or car’s AC system checked and fixed, the sooner you can cool down the steam bath inside your car.