Common A/C and Heating Problems

Air Conditioning Service: The number one reason the air conditioning system is serviced in a vehicle is because it is not cooling properly. That's a great reason if it is July in South Carolina. Have you ever heard the saying "If it's not broken don't fix it"? It makes good sense in most cases, but when it comes to air conditioning it may be breaking slowly and you will not know it. Over time refrigerant and oil leaks out of an automobile's air conditioning unit. This allows air and moisture to enter the system which will cause an acid condition inside the system. The loss of oil in the system will cause a loss of lubrication. Both will cause system failure. A refrigerant or oil overcharged or undercharged system can have devastating results as well. We recommend the air conditioning system be serviced every year to help extend the life of the unit and avoid costly repairs to the system.

System Leaks: The air conditioning system in a moving vehicle can be more susceptible to leaks, due to the nature of the system. Unlike a home unit the automobile has more moving components and uses flexible lines to handle the movement and vibrations that are associated with the vehicle. Due to some of the changes in the systems leak detention has become more difficult to locate, especially small leaks. With R 134a refrigerant an electronic leak detector is not as accurate as it was with R 12 refrigerant;   the old propane leak testers are not practical and produce a hazardous gas when used. There are several methods used to locate leaks, but the best we have found is the use of a fluorescent dye and a good inspection of the system. A well trained technician with up to date information is also a plus.

Mold and Mildew: Do you get an unpleasant odor at times when you turn on your air conditioning or heater system? This problem is most likely a mold or mildew build up in the heater / air conditioning case inside your vehicle. Moisture condensation in the air conditioning system provides an environment perfect for mold, fungus, bacteria and other microorganisms to grow. This problem is magnified with hotter climates and higher humidity. Does it sound like I just described South Carolina with the heat and humidity? Odor from mold and mildew are more prevalent in vehicles today due to the smaller designs of the heater/ air conditioning cases and components such as evaporator cores. We have a service especially designed to address mold and mildew and treat the system to help slow this process down. It will also remove other odors in the vehicle's interior. It is recommended every one to two years depending on the vehicle design and uses.

Cabin Air Filters: We first started see cabin air filters on vehicles several years ago and each year the number of vehicles and models equipped with this filter have grown. It is designed to filter the air entering the passenger compartment of your vehicle, much like the filters in the air conditioning unit at your home. In most vehicles it is scheduled to be changed at the 15,000 or 30,000 mile scheduled maintenance service or between one to two years.  This may vary due to driving conditions and vehicle type. It can have a direct effect on the performance of your air conditioning and heater system. It will even help with those allergies by filtering out the dust and pollens in the air.

Refrigerant, Alternative Refrigerant's, Additives and Sealers: In the early 1990's all vehicle manufacturers changed the type of refrigerant used in the air conditioning systems. This change was made due to environmental issues with the R 12 refrigerant which was used for many years. The new refrigerant used is R 134a and is the only refrigerant recommended for use in automobiles today. With this change came several changes in the service procedure and types of systems. I would recommend that you only use R 134a refrigerant and the proper refrigerant oils in your air conditioning system.

I do have several WARNINGS on alternate refrigerant's, additives and sealers on the market today. Be very careful when using these products. They can cause major problems inside the vehicle's system and in air conditioning service equipment. This can become very costly to repair. The product may be marker EPA approved, but may not be compatible with your air conditioning system. Again I would recommend that you only use R 134a refrigerant and the proper oil for your system. If you have any questions about this please call me at the shop and if you have used any of these products, please inform the service personal before any service is performed. It could save you and the service provided a lot of headaches and expensive repairs for both.

Air Conditioning Controls: The controls in an air conditioning system change with every new model year. In the past there were mechanical controls and a simple electrical circuit. Now some models still have some of the mechanical controls, but it is becoming more common to have electronic controls with a complex electronic control system that is tied into the computer network with in your vehicle. The correct service information and an up-to-date technician are needed to diagnose control issues. This is one of the reasons we take a proactive approach in training our staff.

Engine Cooling and Other System: The performance of the air conditioning system is directly related to many systems in your vehicle. This is a subject for future news letters. The cooling system and related systems should be inspected during your seasonal inspection and during any air conditioning service.

Most car care is just good sense and tailoring the preventive maintenance schedules to the type vehicle you drive and the driving conditions. Preventive maintenance will not totally stop untimely repairs or vehicle breakdown, but will go a long way to insure vehicle reliability. It also helps control and lower vehicle operating cost. We should expect 200,000 miles or more out of any vehicle built today and it is not uncommon for us to see this in a well maintained vehicle. The last vehicle I owned had over 400,000 miles on it and the current vehicle I own has over 200,000 miles. Yes, it has had its share of repairs over the years, but when you add up the cost of that repair such as a transmission or air conditioning system and apply it to the cost per mile, it is not close to what the replacement cost would be. It is our job to get you to that 200,000 mile point with your vehicle. Call us for all of your automotive needs!