When it comes to car AC repair, Bowers Automotive has you covered. Since 1990, our team has been providing quality auto repair services to the drivers of Colorado Springs. We know how important it is to be comfortable while driving in the summer. As the weather heats up, it is a good idea to turn on your AC and check that it is still working well. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to bring your vehicle in for a quick diagnosis and tune-up.
The air conditioning unit of a car is a fairly complex component, consisting of an evaporating coil, a condensing coil, and a compressor, which circulate the refrigerant liquid. A blower fan moves air across the evaporating coil where the decompressed refrigerant lowers the temperature of the air before it exits through the vents. Malfunctions in your AC unit can present different symptoms. We are going to take you through the most common AC complaints and what causes them.
You turn on the AC and crank it up to full power expecting a blast of cold wind, but all you get is a weak flow of air. Problems with airflow power usually stem from a malfunction in the blower fan. You may notice that the little air coming out of the vents is indeed cold, there’s just no power behind it.
The most likely cause for this lack of airflow is a broken ventilation fan or a loose blower hose. Another possibility is mold growth in the evaporating core. The cooling process can leave residual moisture on the outer surfaces of the evaporating coil. If mold takes hold in this area, it can block the airflow, diminishing the force of air that reaches the vents.
Warm air coming from your AC unit can indicate a serious problem. If you notice a steady flow of air, but without the lowered temperature, it means something is amiss in your unit’s refrigeration cycle. It is best to take your car to a qualified technician as soon as you notice this issue before it can develop into a more serious and costly problem.
Warm air coming from your AC vents means that the blower fan is still working, but the air is not being cooled enough. One of the most common reasons for this is a Freon leak. Freon is the refrigerant typically used in car AC units. If there is a damaged O-ring, a loose hose, or a broken seal somewhere in the refrigeration cycle, this refrigerant can leak out, weakening the cooling process and allowing air and moisture into the system.
Cold to Hot
Another common complaint that requires car AC repair is that the unit starts out working fine, but after a few minutes the airflow turns warm. This is a frustrating problem and can be caused by a whole range of different malfunctions. Although not as urgent as a suddenly warm airflow, this issue should be checked by your auto technician sooner rather than later.
One possible reason for this problem is a faulty compressor clutch. If your compressor does not maintain the correct pressure, it will result in warm airflow. Clogged expansion valves can also result in the air turning from cold to hot. A blocked expansion valve will prevent sufficient refrigerant from moving into the evaporator, resulting in a decrease in the cooling power of your AC unit. Lastly, leaks in the vacuum seals can compromise the whole system and lead to a decrease in cooling performance over time.
If your AC unit starts pumping out musty air with a faint smell of unwashed socks, you know you have a problem. Apart from creating discomfort to you and your passengers, this odor can indicate a serious issue in the inner workings of your car’s AC system.
Bad smells from your AC vents can be caused by a build-up of dirt and grime in the air cabin filter. It is quick and easy to get this replaced. It’s also possible that the bad smell stems from a moldy evaporator case. If water makes its way into the evaporator and is not drained, it can quickly lead to an accumulation of mildew and mold. This mold build-up is what you are smelling as your cold air is pushed out over it.
In auto language, the ‘Black Death’ refers to an irreversible and untreatable breakdown of the AC compressor due to the formation of a thick black sludge. You may not realize you have this until your AC unit completely fails. The only solution to this particular problem is a complete replacement of the compressor, and depending on the level of damage, some other components.
The Black Death occurs when you have old refrigerant fluid that has broken down or moisture contamination in the compressor. Corrosive acids form and start to erode the steel surfaces of the compressor. Continuous breakdown of these metal parts eventually mixes with the remaining refrigerant and creates a thick black sludge. This sludge makes its way throughout the AC unit, blocking valves and slowing down movement until everything comes to a complete standstill.
Your AC Units Biggest Enemy, Leaks
You may have noticed a pattern emerging in all of these potential AC failure scenarios. Leaks are the biggest cause of AC problems. Once you have a damaged seal or a loose hose somewhere in the system, the refrigerant can leak out, and moisture can get in. An AC unit with a leak is known as an ‘open system,’ meaning it has been compromised and it’s only a matter of time before it begins to fail.
The only way to know if you have a leak in your system is to bring your vehicle to a qualified technician. At Bowers Automotive, an AC performance check is part of our routine maintenance service. Using UV lights, we can detect refrigerant leaks on the exterior of your AC system. Our team can perform a refrigerant flush to clean out the interior and replace the refrigerant with a fresh batch.
If a leak or malfunctioning part is detected early, your car AC repair should be simple, fast and affordable. Avoid having to replace your whole system by taking your vehicle for regularly scheduled maintenance checks. For more information on AC repairs or to schedule an appointment, you can contact us here at Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs.