Driving your car without an Air Conditioner in a city like Lagos on a very sunny and traffic-ridden day is very discomforting, physically and emotionally. It is probably the reason for most act of rage on the road by drivers as they tend not to be comfortable with themselves and thus transfer this to other road users.
The car’s AC system is categorised as part of the comfort and entertainment sub-systems of a vehicle and one that most intending buyers have on their checklist when inspecting a vehicle for purchase.
The AC system operates on heat exchange and cooling of refrigerant gas, which is then dispersed via a fan blower in the vehicle. The efficiency of an AC system is predicated on the state of the parts of the system as well as external environmental conditions while driving.
As with every system in a vehicle, a working understanding of its core components and symptoms may help one to prevent breakdown and unnecessary expenses.
The AC system of a vehicle has seven major components: compressor, condenser, evaporator, expansion valve, control panel in the vehicle interior, vents and a network of pipes.
The most common complaints we have heard car owners/drivers give about their cooling system are listed below.
Air not blowing
This is perhaps the first signal of a problem in the system. Once you turn on your AC, you expect a rush of air and then cool air. But in a situation where there is no air coming in, the first thing to check is the air vents lock. Are they closed or opened. The next thing to check is the AC control. It may be failing due to an electrical connection – this may be a blown fuse or relay or simply a damaged panel. Your blower fan is supposed to work regardless of your compressor’s status.
Air isn’t cool
Having your blower fan work when you turn on the AC but not having cool air is another complaint often heard from car owners. When you have a situation like this, check your control knob to ensure it is in the cool region and not the heater selection. A further test will be to check if the compressor coil head is engaged on switching on the AC. If you don’t hear the clicking sound of your compressor engagement after turning your AC on, you may have an electrical problem. If, however, you hear this sound once and you don’t have cool air blowing in, your AC system may be out of gas. This may also be indicative of a leakage in the system.
AC doesn’t supply cool air when it is hot outside.
If you experience a cool AC performance early in the morning and late evening, but a poor performance when the sun is high, your AC condenser is clogged and gas isn’t cooling properly to have enough cool air to circulate in the vehicle interior when the sun is high. Have a technician take a look at your AC system and, in particular, your condenser. It is important that this is done as early as you observe this condition, otherwise it will affect the other components which will be overcompensating for its poor performance and eventually have the debris/dirt that has clogged the condenser forcefully circulating throughout the system. Thus, requiring expensive repairs.
Topping up vehicle AC gas regularly
If you frequently top/charge your AC system with refrigerant, you are most likely having a leakage in your cooling system. Do a visual inspection of the visible components of the system and check for oil stains. Wherever you find the oil stains is most likely where you have your leakage. If you cant find it, have an AC technician do a thorough inspection. A major cause of a leakage that hasn’t been found for a long time is the expansion valve. Kindly suggest to the technician to inspect this component too and tighten all connection points.
Funny odour in the car
If you often smell gas or dampness in your car once your AC is turned on, your evaporator is faulty. The evaporator and the blower fan are usually in close proximity to each other in a regular saloon car. This component can only be accessed by a trained technician and you should refer it to such a person.
When you take your vehicle for service, tell your technician to inspect your cabin filter. This is also known to restrict cooling/airflow when dirty.
If you get a complaint about contamination of a component in the system, tell your technician to inspect the other components and ask if a system flush is needed. This little suggestion may save you from unpleasant surprises.
When you are having a component replaced, always insist on proofing the new component with the old one to be sure you are given the proper specification for your vehicle. If you are in doubt, kindly use Google to search for your vehicle’s specific component.
The AC system should be thought of as you consider your vehicle’s engine and brake system and have your technician inspect and draw up a maintenance plan for you. As a rule of thumb, whenever you notice a fault in the system, don’t delay in visiting your AC technician to avoid needless expenses. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine.
In conclusion, vehicle maintenance is a collaborative venture and you must partner with your technician to ensure you are not shortchanged under the ‘let’s manage this’ mantra.mnñ
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