A/C isn’t cooling? Troubleshoot these common car air conditioning system problems
It’s no fun being stuck without air conditioning on a hot summer day, especially in a hot car where temperatures can quickly reach 150 degrees or more. But A/C is more than just comfort; it’s a safety issue too. In fact, one of the most dangerous places for someone to be during a heat wave is inside of their car without A/C since temperatures can spike to dangerous levels.
So if your vehicle’s A/C is only kicking out hot air, you should take steps immediately to get the problem fixed.
To help, our ASE-certified repair team here at Bryant Motors has put together a list of the most common air conditioning issues that you can troubleshoot on your own to get your air conditioner back up and running — or to at least know the problem before bringing it into our repair shop in Sedalia, MO.
The six most common car A/C issues are:
- Leaking refrigerant
- Blocked/clogged condenser
- Broken condenser
- Electrical issues
- Faulty cooling fans
- Bad compressor
Reason #1: Your Car is Leaking Refrigerant
A refrigerant leak can occur at any point in the air conditioning process and so it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the leak. The most common places where leaks are found are at A/C unit hose connections.
It’s sometimes possible to see an oily substance accumulating around these connection, which is likely the source of the leak. You or a technician can use a sealant (specifically designed for air conditioning units) found at most auto parts stores to close the leak.
Reason #2: The Condenser is Blocked
The condenser of your vehicle’s air conditioning unit is supposed to re-cool hot refrigerant once it has been compressed. This is done using the airflow that comes through the front of your car as you drive. If the condenser is blocked by some type of debris from the road, then it will be unable to properly cool the refrigerant and your car’s system will continue to operate with overheated refrigerant. This will quickly cause the A/C unit to only expel hot air.
In most vehicles, the condenser is found at the front of the car, so it should be easy to visually see if anything is blocking it. This can easily be removed from the grill of your car and the issue should be resolved.
Reason #3: The Condenser is Broken
If there doesn’t appear to be anything blocking the condenser, it’s possible that it may be broken altogether. A broken condenser can be caused by a puncture from road debris going through the grill of your car and damaging the part, or equipment failure.
If you notice any noticeable punctures in the condenser upon a visual inspection, typically the only way to fix the issue is through replacement.
Reason #4: Electrical Issues
Electrical issues are perhaps the most difficult problem to diagnose when it comes to an A/C unit that has stopped working. First, a visual inspection of all the wiring should be done to see if any wires are broken or frayed.
If any damaged wires are found, they should be mended with electrical tape or replaced altogether. If you’re unable to visually locate any electrical issues, it may be time to take your vehicle to an experienced dealer for further diagnosis.
Reason #5: Faulty Cooling Fans
When fans aren’t properly functioning, your condenser may not receive properly cooling. Over time, this can cause your car to start emitting only hot air. The best way to check if the cooling fan is broken is through a visual inspection.
Cracks in the fan can be caused by debris on the road and replacement is the only true way to address this issue. Other common issues with cooling fans include blown fuses and other electrical issues. These problems may have to be addressed by a professional unless you have experience in electrical work.
Reason #6: The Compressor Has Gone Bad
The compressor keeps your A/C moving at all times. Without it, the refrigerant cannot circulate through the system and you’ll never get any cold air. The most common reason that a compressor goes bad is due to long periods of time without use. Lack of use tends to shock the system when it finally is used again such as in the spring or summer after sitting dormant all winter long.
To best combat this issue, we recommend running your A/C system on full blast for at least 15 minutes roughly once every three weeks or so, regardless of the outside temperature. This will help keep the compressor fresh and extend its overall lifespan.
How Can We Help?
Just because your car air conditioner has stopped cooling doesn’t mean that all is lost. In fact, the fix may be a relatively inexpensive repair that can be done in just a matter of minutes. We understand that this can be an extremely frustrating thing to happen to your vehicle, so we wanted to equip you with the necessary knowledge to troubleshoot these things on your own if possible.
If you’re still having trouble trying to fix these issues yourself though, and you’re in the Central Missouri area, then feel free to give us a call or stop by our repair shop. We’d be happy to have our experienced ASE-certified technicians take a look and get you back on the road in no time.
Having the opposite problem? Learn about the 5 Reasons Why Your Car Heater is Blowing Cool Air.