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Repairing a car’s air conditioning is high on the list of things no one wants to do, but it’s not all that bad if you know what you’re getting into. Once things are warming up in your car, the biggest challenge in fixing the problem is identifying the real problem.
Hot air or no air leaking out of your car’s vents when you flip the switch can be caused by a number of factors some of which require the help of a professional to correct. You can fix some of the simpler problems at home by recharging the system with refrigerant or by replacing damaged hoses. However, you need to know the limits of your abilities to avoid doing more damage in the process. This ensures that your vehicle’s air conditioning system works properly, cools you down, and keeps you running smoothly for years to come.
So follow The Drive’s guide to air conditioning repair and learn the language of your compressor.
Car Air Conditioning Basics
Estimated time needed: Depending on the problem and complexity of the air conditioning, between an hour and several hours.
skill level:: Medium
Vehicle system:: HVAC
Common problems with air conditioning repair
Before doing a repair, you need to find out which part of the air conditioner is not working properly. Let’s start ticking things off our list.
- Start the vehicle and turn on the air conditioning.
- Are the fans running and are they pushing air out?
- When the fans are working, is the air temperature cool or warm?
- Under the hood, check the air conditioning compressor to make sure it is running. There should be a pulley and belt that rotate when the system is running.
If not, the compressor may need to be replaced.
- Check the wiring connected to the air conditioning compressor.
- Disconnect the cables that are connected to the compressor’s electrical coupling.
- Test the compressor by running a cable from the compressor cable to the battery’s positive terminal. You should hear a loud crack.
If no sound can be heard, the clutch is not working properly and the compressor needs to be replaced.
- Check the air conditioner for leaks.
- It’s a good idea to use a leak detection kit here. They use a dye that is visible to the naked eye and can quickly see where leaks are occurring.
- Unless you are a highly skilled automotive technician, you will need to have a professional fix the leaks.
If there are no leaks, the problem may be related to low coolant, the simplest and most common problem in air conditioning.
Safety in repairing air conditioning systems
You are dealing with a pressure system and you are using a pressure vessel with potentially harmful chemicals. Here are The Drive’s top tips for keeping your eyes and skin pristine and undamaged.
- Wear gloves and safety glasses.
- Even newer coolants can be harmful to the environment. So do not expect to be carelessly disposed of. We are watching you.
- Leftover chemicals should be stored away from open flames, direct sunlight and hot temperatures.
- Work in a well-ventilated area. Inhaling chemical fumes from air conditioning repair is bad news. So use a mask.
- Do not overfill your vehicle’s refrigerant tank. It can burst or explode and injure or damage other parts of the vehicle.
Everything you need to fix a car air conditioning
It doesn’t take much to get started with an A / C repair, but there are a few things that are absolutely necessary:
- Towel / rag
- Eye protection
- Pressure gauge (if not included in the refrigerant)
List of items
- Refrigerant (R134a etc.)
- Leak repair kit (if necessary)
You will also need a flat work area, such as a desk. B. a garage floor, a driveway or a well-ventilated street parking lot. Check your local laws to make sure you’re not breaking any codes when using the road as we won’t mess up your driving.
Here’s how to repair a car’s air conditioning system
The most important thing is that there may be a problem that you simply cannot fix at home. In these situations, be ready to take the car to a professional.
Let us do this! Top up refrigerant
It is important to find the right type of refrigerant for your vehicle. The wrong way can damage the system and even damage other parts of the vehicle in the process. Older vehicles that use R12 refrigerant require professional topping up as they cannot be repaired at home.
- Use a thermometer to check the ambient temperature under the hood.
- Find the low-side service connector for your vehicle’s air conditioning system.
- If you can’t see it right away, check your vehicle’s service manual to determine its location.
- Use a clean rag or towel to wipe the area near the service port. You should make sure there is no debris or debris near the port.
- Connect the refrigerant can to the service connection using the hose supplied with the can.
- Do not stretch the refrigerant hose too far. If you are unable to connect to the service port from where you can reach it, take the car to a mechanic.
- If the can came with a pressure gauge, be sure to plug it in and use it.
- Use the previously measured ambient temperature to determine the correct pressure with the pressure gauge in order to properly fill the system.
- Twist the valve on top of the can until the seal is broken and you can begin filling the system
- Hold the can upright to allow the refrigerant to flow freely.
- Shake the can gently from time to time.
- When refilling, watch out for leaks in the hoses.
- When your pressure gauge indicates the system is full, remove the hose and store in a cool and safe place.
- When the can is completely empty, it can be disposed of. However, if there is still refrigerant in it, it must be stored safely.
If you discover leaks or other problems with the air conditioning, have the vehicle repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ve just topped up your own air conditioning. Congratulations. Now get out there and ride in comfort!
Get help repairing your air conditioner from a mechanic on JustAnswer
The engine recognizes that while our guides are detailed and easy to follow, a rusty bolt, an incorrectly positioned engine component, or oil leaking everywhere can cause a project to fail. That’s why we’ve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you with certified mechanics around the world to help you with even the toughest of tasks.
So if you have a question or get stuck, click here and speak to a mechanic in your area.
Pro tips for repairing a car’s air conditioning system
Here at The Drive we did our part of the A / C repair. Learn from our mistakes and broken ankles, and follow our top tips for repairing a car’s air conditioner.
- Air conditioning systems shouldn’t be neglected. Do not try to put pressure on the eyeball or skimp on fixing leaks.
- If there is something you do not understand, take the car to a professional. You have the tools and equipment to diagnose problems more accurately.
- Be careful with remanufactured or recycled A / C parts. Buy from a reputable manufacturer or seller and make sure the condition is clear and obvious.
How much does it cost to fix a car’s air conditioning system?
It usually costs $ 100 to repair or refill an air conditioner at home. This includes the cost of refrigerant and the supplies needed to clean and prepare the area for refilling. After a professional repair, the system can cost up to $ 1,000 if an overhaul or replacement of a larger part is required.
Life hacks to repair a car’s air conditioning system
Since you may not have access to the right tools or have a friend to dump a wrench from, we have also compiled a list of our best hacks to make your life easier and less emptying your pocket.
- Keep your car’s air filters clean. Replacing or cleaning the cabin air filter and other filters will put less stress on the system.
- Work in a shady place. You want to give yourself as much leeway as possible in terms of ambient temperatures.
- It might be uncomfortable, but you don’t necessarily have to have air conditioning for your car to work properly.