Vehicle AC Maintenance & Service

During the summer heat, the last thing you want is for your vehicle’s air conditioning unit to fail. Let’s cover common car AC maintenance questions and tips.

Why Is My Car A/C Blowing Hot Air?

Many things can cause your vehicle’s A/C to blow hot air.

Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant circulates through your A/C system, expanding and contracting as it removes heat and humidity from the cabin. Without the correct refrigerant levels, the A/C can’t function correctly.

Faulty Condenser Fan

The condenser fan keeps the refrigerant cool so the A/C system can produce cold air. If it’s clogged, it won’t be able to cool the refrigerant.

Broken Compressor

The compressor circulates refrigerant through the A/C system. If it breaks down, the refrigerant won’t be able to reach the condenser to be cooled. The compressor may stop working if you don’t use your A/C system for a while (e.g., during winter). Newer vehicles may be able to avoid this issue if the condenser is kept active year-round with the defrost setting.

Electrical System Issues

If the A/C components are all in good condition, an electrical issue–such as a frayed wire or blown fuse–may cause hot air, or the A/C system might need to be recharged.

How Can I Recharge My Car’s A/C?

If you notice your car’s A/C system is losing power, try recharging it. To do this, you’ll need:

  • A/C recharging kit
  • refrigerant
  • safety glasses
  • gloves

Once you’ve gathered your materials, follow these steps to recharge your car’s A/C:

  1. Start your car and set the A/C to high.
  2. Under the hood, look to see if the clutch on the compressor is engaging. It should spin with the accessory belt. If it is, the system likely just needs more refrigerant. If it’s not, the refrigerant could be very low, there may be an electrical problem, or the compressor may have failed.
  3. Turn the vehicle off and locate the low-side pressure port. This is usually on the passenger side of the engine bay. It’ll have a black or grey cap with the letter “L” on it.
  4. Attach the charging hose from the A/C recharging kit to the low-side service port.
  5. Restart your vehicle, make sure the A/C is on high, and monitor the gauge on the charging hose. If the pressure is under 40 psi, the AC system is undercharged.
  6. Thread the refrigerant can onto the charging hose. Hold the can upright and squeeze the trigger for five to 10 seconds. Check the pressure gauge to make sure you don’t overcharge the system. Repeat until you reach 40 psi.
  7. Step inside your vehicle and check if the A/C is blowing cool air. You can use a thermometer to confirm that the temperature has dropped.

If your A/C system still isn’t working, have it assessed by a professional at a NAPA AUTOPRO service centre. Keep in mind A/C systems made before 1995 typically can’t be recharged.

How Much Is It to Fix the A/C in a Car?

The cost to repair your car’s A/C system can vary depending on the vehicle type, the cause of the problem, and if you need any replacement parts.

An initial diagnostic session may cost $150 to $200. General A/C repairs can cost between $100 and $500. If you need a new compressor, this can cost $800 to $1,600.

How Can I Maintain My Car’s A/C?

To avoid expensive repairs, you can help your A/C stay in good condition with these tips:

  • No matter the weather, run your A/C on defrost mode for ten minutes each week on the coolest setting with the fan at maximum speed. This’ll help maintain gas pressure and keep the compressor running well.
  • Don’t pre-cool your car. The A/C operates at maximum efficiency while you’re driving.
  • Clean or replace the cabin air filter at least once every 12 to 24 months.

Pay attention to any changes in your A/C system, including strange noises, smells, or warm air. Solving these issues early on is best for the health of your vehicle, your safety, and you wallet!

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