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Car Air Conditioning Services – A Brief Guide, Things To Know

When was the last time you went to get car air conditioning services? If it has been a while, you might be in for a very hot summer.

You’re probably wondering now, “How can my air conditioner go bad if I haven’t even used it?” Well, according to automobile experts, your car will lose about 10% of the gas each year that helps with cooling. As a result, your car will need re-gassing every 2-3 years if not before.

However, I would not recommend waiting that long before getting yourself car air conditioning services. The reason is the longer you wait, the higher could be your repair costs.

But what exactly do these services include? How do you decide when a visit is due? What services should you expect on these visits? Can you DIY these services?

Before we answer these questions, let us first explain to you how the air conditioning system on your car works.

How does car air conditioning work?

Your car air conditioning system constitutes of five integral components:

  • Compressor:
    This is a belt-driven tool that compresses and circulates the refrigerant gas within the cooling system of your vehicle. It is the very core of your car’s air conditioning system.
  • Condenser:
    The compressor delivers the gas to the condenser, which then cools this gas and dissipates the heat released by this gas. We call it a condenser because it condenses the refrigerant gas into high-pressure liquids. If you notice your car AC is not cooling as normal, there could be a leakage in this unit. You should get car air conditioning services to fix this leak immediately. 
  • Receiver:
    This metal container stores the refrigerant gas and other oils. Also known as the “dryer”, it absorbs moisture from the refrigerant gas. Furthermore, it filters out the debris and other contaminants from the gas, as well. I recommend you change your dryer every 4 years or so to ensure you keep getting quality filtration.
  • Expansion Valve:
    The expansion valve, or what you may know as the orifice tube, is a nozzle that acts as a controlling mechanism for the flow of refrigerant throughout the system. It drops the pressure on the high-pressure refrigerant liquid that it receives from the condenser and converts it into low-pressure liquid. Simultaneously, it also meters its flow while atomizing it. It is one of the components that you sometimes overlook when you go for car air conditioning services.
  • Evaporator:
    This component rids your vehicle of the heat accumulated inside it. The evaporator lets the refrigerant absorb the heat, which then makes the refrigerant boil and turns into a vapour. This vapour then leaves the evaporator, passes through the compressor, and cools down your vehicle in the process. Due to its location and function, the evaporator is susceptible to severe chemical damage. You may have to completely replace it after some time.
  • Refrigerant:
    The low refrigerant level is the most common issue we encounter in the car air conditioning services. It is a gas/liquid that carries heat from your car to its air conditioning system. Because of its volatile nature, your vehicle will lose refrigerant gas regardless of how often or sparingly you use it.

Car AC working:

When you switch on your vehicle’s air conditioner, the refrigerant in its gas form moves to the condenser. As air from the atmosphere passes over the condenser, the gas temperature drops and turns into a liquid. This liquid then passes through a receiver that filters it before it reaches the expansion valve.

You can control the temperature at this point by adjusting the amount of liquid that flows through. The liquid passes through the evaporator coil next. At this stage, it turns into a vapour, and this then absorbs the heat from the air in your car’s cabin and you get cooler air in the car. The refrigerant, which is now a gas, returns to the compressor and the process repeats itself. 

How often should you get car air conditioning services?

Car air conditioning services. Service station. Car repair

You should get car air conditioning services after a set period. Generally, you should visit an AC technician every 12 months. As I mentioned earlier, your car will lose between 10% to 15% of its refrigerant gas each year. Consequently, you will need to refill this every 2 to 3 years.

Even if your car is not losing refrigerant, you should still take it to a mechanic to get your air conditioning system disinfected. Bacteria and acids can accumulate inside the system. A car air conditioning services provider will be able to get rid of these before they cause unpleasant odours in your vehicle. Ignoring this could also lead to an exacerbation of your allergies since dust is one of the many contaminants that collect in the car’s AC vents.

How to tell you need car air conditioning services?

It is vital to schedule your visits yearly to the car air conditioning services provider to tackle small issues before they escalate. However, if you encounter any of the following issues, I suggest you do not wait for your annual appointment and visit an expert AC technician immediately.

  1. Your air conditioner blows warm air from the vents.
  2. The air conditioner blows cold air sporadically.
  3. The system makes abnormal noises.
  4. You start to smell a murky or odd odour from the AC vents.

What to expect from car air conditioning services?

A professional car air conditioning services provider may offer varying amenities depending on their convenience. However, you can expect to get some general services on your annual visits:

  • Replenishing the refrigerant and oils if they are below recommended levels.
  • Removing air and moisture from the system.
  • Checking the system for leaks.
  • Ensuring correct temperature output.
  • Cleaning the air conditioner system for impurities and odours.

Should you perform car air conditioning services at home?

You can find plenty of online videos and blogs on how to repair your car air conditioner yourself. However, I can tell you from experience; it is not as easy as it sounds. Even diagnosing issues with a car air conditioning system is a little tricky.

There are several reasons why you should leave the AC repair task to experts. Here are a few major ones:

  • The process can be dangerous. The gases involved are toxic and should not escape into the atmosphere. Since these gases are hazardous, you have to dispose them of according to EPA rules, and the hassle is just not worth it. 
  • AC systems are getting more complicated and sophisticated with time. Unlike nonprofessionals, AC repair experts are trained to keep up with these trends to offer you the best car air conditioning services.
  • You could potentially risk losing your car’s warranty if you attempt and mess up DIY repairs. Although you do not need to visit your vehicle’s dealership, your car supplier might require that you only get repairs from trained professionals.
  • Repair equipment can be quite costly to purchase and upkeep. It might seem like a good investment to you but getting the repairs done from an expert will cost you less.

Conclusion:

Your car’s air conditioning system can be your saviour for long trips on summer days. Like many other car systems, this one is also complicated and will need maintenance and care. While it might be tempting to try some of these repairs yourself, we would recommend you abstain from it and leave this work to the professionals. Schedule annual visits to your car air conditioning services provider to make sure nothing is amiss with the system. It is also crucial to you keep an eye on issues that may arise otherwise.