The air conditioning system in a vehicle is one of those vehicle components that many drivers don’t pay any special attention to…until it malfunctions in the middle of summer.
If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know exactly how rough it can be. Suddenly, the air conditioning system becomes a top priority. Sometimes a functioning air conditioning system isn’t just a matter of comfort or convenience, it’s a legitimate health concern. This is particularly true for older drivers, drivers with children, or anyone especially sensitive to heat.
The interior of a car can get extremely hot, extremely quickly. Driving with the windows down can mitigate the temperature a bit—at parity with the outdoor temperature at best—but if the vehicle is parked, the temperatures rise rapidly. If it’s 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, a parked car in direct sunlight can reach temperatures of over 150 degrees. The car has essentially become a greenhouse on wheels, and with this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine why air conditioning is more than a mere convenience.
Did you know that many common air conditioning problems can be avoided with routine maintenance?
Let’s take a moment to examine how a car air conditioning system typically works and then discuss when and how it should be maintained to avoid a sweaty situation.
How a Car Air Conditioning System Works
There are five primary components of a car air conditioning system. These are the:
- Expansion Valve
These devices all work together to produce the cool air you feel in the cab of the car. In most vehicles with this setup, the air conditioning system uses a refrigeration compressor. The engine powers the compressor, which pumps gaseous refrigerant into the condenser. The condenser turns this refrigerant gas into a liquid, which then moves to the receiver to remove moisture. The expansion valve reduces the amount of pressure before the refrigerant reaches the evaporator, which absorbs heat from the air in the vehicle works a bit like a radiator. A fan pushes air over the evaporator and into the car, cooling down the passengers.
How Can I Tell My Car Air Conditioning System Needs Maintenance?
There are two big warning signs of an air conditioning system in need of maintenance: smells and noise. (Arguably, “smells and noise” could describe most major problems in life.)
When you turn on your air conditioner, if you smell a musty or damp odor, it could mean that bacteria has began to crop up in the air conditioning system. Bacteria can lead to mildew, mold, fungi, and other unwanted guests which could damage the components and/or cause them to operate at less than full efficiency. Plus it’s just unpleasant.
Noise is usually coming from the compressor. A buzzing sound is usually the result of too much refrigerant passing into the compressor, which could leak and cause damage. Knocking or “pinging” sounds while the air conditioner is engaged are generally less serious—usually a loose mounting bolt—but that doesn’t mean it can’t lead to more significant problems.
What Happens During a BG Air Conditioning Service?
During car air conditioning maintenance, your air conditioning system should be fully inspected for wear and tear, leaks, and any other problems that could impede its continued function. The tech will also clean the evaporator (with BG products)—remember, it works a bit like a radiator, so dust and debris can build up, meaning that after it gets cleaned, the air conditioner will work much better.
Next, the refrigerant pressure will be checked, ensuring that you have the right amount flowing through the system. Finally mold and fungi removed with BG’s Frigi-Clean. This will prevent damage and eliminate any musty odors.
The benefits of regular maintenance are many: the air conditioner will be quieter, the compressor will last longer, and the quality of air in the interior of the car will be cleaner.
How Often Should I Have My Car Air Conditioning System Maintained?
Typically, routine maintenance should be performed on your car air conditioning system about once a year. Usually the best time to do it is a month or two before summer begins and you start using your air conditioner in the car regularly.
If you don’t drive often, you probably already know that it’s smart to start up your vehicle at least once a week for a few minutes. But did you know that running the air conditioner is also smart? This will ensure that the hoses and valves are still lubricated.
Don’t let your air conditioner accumulate wear and tear until it’s too late—an appointment for maintenance is usually a short visit that can save you money in the long run and ensure that you’re not caught out in traffic without a working air conditioner. Click here to find a BG climate control service near you.