Air conditioning, which was once a great luxury, is now a common feature on most
motor vehicles. While the servicing of modern car air conditioning systems is
best left to professionals, you can get the most enjoyment from your ac system
if you know a bit about how it works and what malfunctions you should be on the
1. Odd smells coming from the air conditioning may be caused by bacterial
As your car becomes older, or when the air conditioning system is used
infrequently, bacteria, micro-organisms, mold and fungi may start growing, just
behind the dash panel on the evaporator causing some very unpleasant odors. Some
even claim this can result in headaches and flu like symptom sometimes referred
to as ďsick car syndrome.Ē
This problem can be solved by using an anti-bacterial treatment that destroys
the bacteria growth and leaves your car smelling fresh again.
2. If you car does not feel cold enough, then you may need to recharge your
If you feel that your car doesnít feel as cold as your friendís car, then your
system may need servicing. The air conditioning system in your vehicle is not
usually covered by most manufacturers servicing schedules and the refrigerant
gas that is used to operate the system depletes over time. On average most
vehicles lose up to 15% per annum. This leakage can be caused when then system
is not used during the winter months. Thus allowing the small ďOĒ ring seals to
dry out resulting in a gradual deterioration in system performance. If this
continues, eventually the system will not be able to operate at all.
Most problems of this type can be put right fairly easily by a leak check of
your system followed by a complete refill of your air conditioning refrigerant,
this is sometimes referred to as a re-gas.
3. Running your air conditioning year round will help maintain the system
If you run the air conditioning in the winter it will help to keep the system
well lubricated and leak tight. This is because the refrigerant actually carries
the oil that lubricates the system and most importantly the compressor. It also
keeps the seals and hoses moist, thus preventing them from drying out and
cracking which can lead to leaks.
4. Strange noises coming from the air conditioning should be attended to
If your air-con system suddenly starts making noises you have not heard before
it is very advisable to have a qualified vehicle air conditioning specialist to
have a look at it.
Some noises could be early symptoms of a compressor failure (the compressor is
the air conditioning pump).The compressor is usually the most expensive part on
the system ranging from approximately £230 to £600+ and if the bearings in your
compressor break down or if the compressor seizes up it also means that other
components can become contaminated with metal particles A flush of the system
would then be needed as well as replacement of the compressor, the
receiver/drier and the expansion valve - quite a hefty bill!
5. Donít worry about a pool of water forming under your car after using the A/C
If you see a puddle of water on the ground, usually under the passenger area
donít be alarmed. This is a normal feature of the system as it is only water
dripping from the air conditioning evaporator. The evaporator has a drain tube
fitted to allow the condensation from the evaporator to drain away from the
6. Excessive moisture inside the car can be fixed easily
Sometimes the drain tube from the evaporator may become blocked or detached
allowing the condensation to build up inside your evaporator. If this occurs
water will just build up inside your car to a point where there are damp carpets
or misting / high humidity type problems. These problems can be solved with
7. Have your air conditioning serviced regularly, even if there are no visible
Just as the other systems of your car need servicing on a regular basis, the
same is true for the air conditioning system. The compressor needs oil, or else
it will seize up. The filter collects debris and moisture. If the filter becomes
blocked, then the performance of the system will deteriorate and it can even
quit working entirely (probably when you need it most!)
Normally the refrigerant gas in a car air conditioning system has to be
recharged completely within four years from the manufacture date and thereafter
every two to three years.
An annual servicing of your carís air conditioning system will guard against
malfunctions in the compressor and other vital parts of the system. Regular
maintenance will save you money in the long run and guarantee you comfort in the
About the Author: Steve Magill is
the managing director of LVV Services Ltd.
http://www.lvvservices.com . Located in South Wales, LVV Services
specializes in Smart Repair of autos, including dent removal, car diagnostics,
paint repair, alloy wheel repair and air conditioning services.