Keep Your Car As Cool As Can Be!
If you’ve ever been in your car on a hot Chico day, you know how bad it can get with a broken air conditioner. Fixing your A/C is essential when the days keep getting warmer, as your A/C will be working harder than ever. It’s important to handle cooler maintenance before it’s really needed, and Tedious Repairs is here to help.
Here you’ll find pro-tips from our auto mechanics to keep your A/C system in peak physical condition. And we’re not talking just maintenance here; follow these tips and you may actually notice a vast improvement in how cold your system is capable of getting. You won’t regret going the distance before summer sets in and things get really hot!
Please Note: Always keep your owner’s manual handy for specifics during system maintenance. If you no longer have it, Google the manual for the make/model of your vehicle.
First, Clean Your Circulation
Start simple and make sure the pathway for cool air to pass throughout your vehicle is clear and clean. Blockages make a huge difference. Anyone who’s cleaned a dusty box fan should be familiar with the difference it can make. A couple simple things to do include:
Clear Your A/C Vents
Vacuum or blow out your car vents (do not blow against the A/C’s air flow while it’s active). If the vehicle has been smoked in regularly, you may need to put in extra effort to scrub off old grime that can build up on vents. Additionally, the air that circulates will be fresher and this will effectively make it feel “cooler”.
Close Doors and Windows Completely
This seems rather obvious, but loose doors and windows will substantially reduce cool air by circulating it out of the vehicle. It’s worth the effort to fix windows or loose doors if you notice you can’t keep the cabin cold. Even if you have to plug a crack with a rag, it may be worth it especially on long drives.
Clean the A/C Condenser
This takes a little more effort but can go a long way in old cars. The A/C condenser looks like a grill under the front bumper or hood. You can clean it with a common shop-vac or by hand, but you must use a light touch as the fins are easy to bend (which will reduce its ability to transfer heat and cool your car). For a helpful tutorial on cleaning your AC condenser, watch this video “How to Clean Car’s AC Condenser” by dial2fast on Youtube.
Check the Compressor
The A/C compressor is the machine that pushes refrigerant through your system in order to exchange heat and change temperatures. It helpfully makes sound when it’s actively working. You can check to see if you need compressor repair simply by turning on your engine, enabling the A/C, then listening to the compressor for activity. As a visual indicator, the clutch on the compressor should engage at least every 15 minutes too. If it engages constantly, this is a sign of low refrigerant, which is a fairly easy issue to resolve.
Recharge Your A/C Refrigerant
If you’re low on auto refrigerant, the A/C won’t be as cool and the system will work harder to keep temperatures low, wearing the system down even faster. It’s totally safe and fairly easy to replace your AC refrigerant so don’t be afraid to do it yourself. Just check the owner’s manual, or Google up further instructions using this keyword term [without quotes]: “replace AC refrigerant [CAR MAKE/MODEL HERE]“.
If you’re not sure what type of vehicle refrigerant to use, please check out our post on Types of AC Refrigerants. For your convenience though, it’s probably R134a, unless you have a fairly new car (2018 or later) in which case it may be R1234yf. Check your vehicle’s manual to be sure.
Fix Refrigerant Leaks Before They Get Worse
It’s not uncommon for there to be leaks or holes in the A/C lines, especially on older cars. Older systems may leak from loose valves or fittings as well. Fortunately, there are some options for at-home repair when it comes to line leaks.
Products like Stop Leak can be a lifesaver when it comes to A/C issues. Simply run the fluid through your car’s AC system and the chemicals will seal small openings like a glue. It will likely help around seals too, but larger leaks will need tightening or repair. You can also use a UV air conditioner leak detection kit to see the leaks for yourself, with the help of a UV light in a low-light room.
Refrigerant and A/C line sealant can easily make a huge difference in A/C performance even when there are no apparent issues. It may be worth a try even if you don’t think you need it.
Tutorial On Finding Leaks
Check out this great YouTube video, “How to Find Small and Large A/C Leaks” from the Ratchets and Wrenches channel. Essentially, you’ll be using a UV-responsive refrigerant and sealer to clog the A/C line leaks internally. Helpful and even a bit entertaining too.
This may seem like a lot for the average end-user, but we bet you can do it if you watch that video and get the right equipment ready before you start. And if you not, just use the contact information below and we’ll gladly help you repair your AC!
Don’t be afraid to get under the hood and solve your own A/C repair problems, to the best of your confidence and ability. As long as you’re careful, basic auto A/C repair and maintenance is one of the safer starting points for amateur auto techs. And when you reach your limit you can also get in touch with Tedious Repairs for a complete and professional A/C system overhaul! Let us know if you need help.