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How to Maintain Your Car A/C (Air Conditioner) System?

When the weather starts to get warm, you turn on the air conditioner while driving. However, if you find that the air conditioner is blowing hot air, or not working at all, there must be nothing worse than that.

The A/C system is one of the more complex systems on a vehicle and can malfunction after a long period of use or after a long period of non-use. That's why we need to maintain our car A/C system. Reading on and learn more about common problems with your car's air conditioning system and how to repair them, as well as how to maintain your auto's air conditioning system.

open car ac system

So, how should we maintain the AC system in our cars? Repairing an A/C system involves diagnosing what part of the A/C system is not working and determining if the owner can repair and fix the A/C system themselves. Air conditioning system failures range from refrigerant leaks to stuck compressors, and some of the more difficult fixes usually require a professional.

You need to know which A/C components require professional maintenance

  1. A/C compressor: Compresses the refrigerant in the air conditioning system and heats it up quickly
  2. Condenser: The refrigerant compressed and heated by the compressor enters the condenser, creating a subcooled liquid
  3. A/C Receiver-drier: used to remove moisture from the air of the air conditioning system
  4. A/C evaporator: used to convert the subcooled refrigerant into refrigerant mist
  5. A/C Hose: The hose carries air and refrigerant throughout the vehicle's A/C system. If the hose leaks, then the refrigerant will gradually leak out causing the A/C system to no longer have cooling capacity.
  6. A/C blower motor: This is used to push the cooling air from the evaporator back into the car.
  7. Circuitry: If the car has a circuit wiring problem, sometimes the instrument panel will not be able to control the A/C system. This is usually caused by a faulty wiring harness or a damaged relay and requires a professional repairer to fix this level of A/C failure.

Since these above components are usually located in the chassis or inside the car, sometimes they even require specialized equipment to be repaired. That's why we recommend leaving the repair of these parts to a professional auto mechanic. Of course, if you have strong repair skills and plenty of tools, it is possible to do the repairs in your own garage.

car air conditioner vent

Before towing your car to a mechanic, you can check your car's air conditioning system yourself.

  1. Check the cabin air filter

There is an air filter in the cabin that is used to speed up the flow of air into the car from the AC system under the hood. Find the location of this filter according to your car model, locate it and pull it out. If it is black and full of debris, then you better replace this clogged air filter to get clean air.

  1. Check the condenser

Under the hood, in front of the radiator, you can see the condenser. This is another part that tends to get clogged. You just need to place the garden hose in the medium-high position and direct the water flow through the louvers of the grille. The lower part of the grille tends to accumulate contaminants causing clogs.

  1. Check the cooling fan

If you find that the electric cooling fan under the hood is not working after you turn on the air conditioning system, there is a fault in the relay, the temperature sensor or the fan itself. In most cases the relay is damaged, but if you can't identify which part is wrong, it's best to leave it to the professionals.

  1. Test for refrigerant leaks

Generally, smoke test and Paginated oil are used to detect refrigerant leakage

Smoke test: The smoke detector blows smoke through the car's air conditioning system to help identify any leaks in the air conditioning system.

Paginated oil: Paginated oil is usually included in the refrigerant recharge service along with the refrigerant itself. Not only does the paging oil help lubricate the air conditioning system, it also shows leaks in the air conditioning system in a UV environment.

Can I recharge car A/C system myself?

The answer is yes, you can. There are many refrigerant recharge kits available online and at auto supply stores that will allow you to recharge your car at home. However, please keep in mind that if you add too much refrigerant or over-pressurize the system, you may damage the compressor.

If you are planning to charge your car yourself, please read the instruction manual for your car model and purchase an AC manifold gauge set for the appropriate refrigerant. We have written an article on how to use an AC manifold gauge set. Orion Motor Tech has many models of high quality manifold gauge sets and vacuum pumps that will allow you to easily recharge the refrigerant in your air conditioning system.

HVAC manifold gauge kit application

How to do car ac system maintenance

You can maintain your car's air conditioning system in a number of ways to keep it in good working order and reduce the need for repairs.

  1. Whether you need to use the air conditioner or not, run it for about 10 minutes at least once a week. This will keep the compressor working properly. Be sure to turn on the highest fan speed and cooling temperature when you turn on the air conditioner.
  2. Run the defrost mode regularly to remove excess moisture.
  3. Change the air filter regularly. This will ensure proper air circulation and improve air quality. 4.
  4. Make sure the vents are clean. If there is debris or other items coming out of your vents, this may cause the vents to become clogged and further damage the system.
  5. Refill the refrigerant. Once the cooling capacity of the system starts to decrease, recharge the system with refrigerant.
  6. Maintain your car's air conditioning system regularly. Visit an auto repair store regularly to check your car's air conditioning system so that you can fix any problems that arise in a timely manner.Avoid higher repair costs.

car ac system vents

Because the car air conditioning system is made up of different parts, it is difficult for a layman to judge when a part fails, and there is a lack of professional tools.  But for some hands-on people, it is not difficult and inexpensive to recharge the air conditioning system by themselves. But no matter what, a regular maintenance of the air conditioning system can make you a comfortable driving experience.