5 Common Car Air Conditioning System Problems

car's AC on/off button

Air conditioning is now a standard feature in most vehicle manufacturing. However, when you take your vehicle for a routine repair or checkup, the priority is usually the engine and other essential aspects of the vehicle Consequently, car owners often overlook developing issues that can impact their car air conditioner and wind up paying heavy fees to get the AC fixed or replaced

Most of the things that cause a failed air conditioner develop over time, so it's not common to notice sudden issues. However, if you're currently experiencing a more overt issue such as loud or unexpected noises coming from your car's AC, take it to a technician as soon as possible.

Otherwise, these are some commonly overlooked car air conditioning issues to look out for, as addressing these issues in a timely manner can you from more costly repairs down the line.

1. Moisture

An air conditioner lowers the inside temperature of your vehicle. It also cools, dries, and cleans the air by forcing the warmer air to release its heat outside. If moisture or debris contaminates the air conditioner installed in the car, it will fail to cool the surroundings.

2. Pungent Odors

Bacteria, fungi, and micro-organisms can develop when the air conditioning system is not in use, especially during winter. The dark and damp interior of your car's AC is the perfect breeding ground for them, and they often make themselves known in the form of pungent odors.

These germs rapidly grow behind the dashboard if left untreated and significantly contribute to “sick car syndrome.” A good inspection and flushing of your system can be done by a technician to alleviate this problem if it's caught early enough.

3. Low Refrigeration Level

The refrigerant is to your car's AC what motor oil is to your engine, and simply by virtue of being present in the vehicle, refrigerant levels in your car's air conditioning diminish by 15-percent annually. Ironically, it's during the winter and not the hot summer that this loss tends to be greater. When the system is not in use, seals can dry out and impact the productivity of the unit , causing it to go through refrigerant quicker.

Low refrigeration level can be rectified by re-filling the gas in the refrigerant tanks or fixing any noticeable leakage.

4. Soiled Condenser

The condenser is responsible for cooling the high-pressure refrigerant vapors exiting the compressor. Blockage of the condenser due to the presence of dirt, grime, or debris will constrict the air flow so that no cooling will take place.

A clogged condenser can be cleaned by employing a good quality flushing agent that vaporizes quickly and does not leave residue in the system. Replace the condenser if it has been used for many years and has given you problems in the past. If the rest of your AC is in good condition, the lower cost of replacing this one component should far outweigh the headache of having to replace the entire system down the line.

5. Mechanical Complications

A compressor malfunction, defective compressor clutch, defunct pressure switch, or non-working valve will lead to poor cooling or no cooling at all.

Because so many little things are potential repairs waiting to happen, just run routine checks so that when something does crop up, you can tackle the issue promptly.

Switch on the air conditioning unit and check if the compressor, compressor clutch switch, fuses, wires, fan belt, and compressor seal are functioning adequately. Check whether the oil in the compressor has been contaminated. Flush the AC unit to replace the old oil with new oil.

Tip: For professional AC technician only -- Regularly replace the expansion valve, accumulators, and receiver driers. These components are the most vulnerable to wear and tear and eventual failure. If they appear to be deteriorating or if they are suspect and it has been a while since the last replacement, it's better to be safe than sorry.