| The inside of your car is full of hot air and this time the culprit is a malfunctioning air conditioning (A/C) system. According to the Car Care Council, an annual checkup of your vehicle’s A/C system will help prevent it from breaking down when you most need it, especially with record high temperatures hitting many parts of the country. |
The typical A/C service consists of the following:
• A service technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.
• If the system is found to be low on refrigerant, a leak test is performed to find the source of the leak. Keep in mind that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, it is damaging the ozone layer.
• Refrigerant may be added if necessary to “top off” the system, although some states do not allow “topping off.”
• A technician may also check for evidence of refrigerant cross-contamination. The refrigerant R-12, trade named DuPont Freon, has been replaced by R-134a. This refrigerant is touted as being environmentally safer than R-12 and has been a standard since 1994. The refrigerants are not inter-changeable. The refrigerant R-134a cannot simply be added to an older vehicle that was using R-12, without first flushing the system and replacing old components and the oil in the compressor. On older cars, this retrofit conversion may be a cost-effective option.
• A/C service should also include a check of the compressor’s drive belt and tension.
“Getting stuck in traffic is hard enough but getting stuck in traffic during the heat of summer without a properly functioning A/C is the pits,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It is important to always have the A/C system properly maintained to keep it in tip-top shape and avoid costly repairs down the road.”