Avoiding Car Air Conditioning Problems

One of the most frustrating problems you can encounter with a modern motor car is a failed or failing air conditioning system. It is only then that you become aware of how much you rely on the comfort of air conditioning when driving in hot summer climates. You also discover just how good or bad car service centers are at diagnosing and repairing such a problem.

Air conditioning in most cars will usually perform reliably and effectively for a good deal of time after the purchase of a new car. However, this is dependent on the standard of installation of the air conditioning components and the reliability of the service repair center that maintains your car for you. My experience is that the ability of mechanics to service and repair car air conditioning varies greatly between dealerships and air conditioning specialists. One is not necessarily better than the other and both may fail to diagnose certain problems in the air conditioning system and/or effectively repair the system.

The following examples of diagnostic failures can prove extremely expensive when air conditioning is being repaired:

1.The air conditioning system is pressure tested and a leak is found in a connecting hose. Hose components are replaced and system re-gassed only for air conditioning to fail a second time;

2.The second attempt by service center reveals evaporator, condenser or compressor problems or problems sometimes accompanied by a failure in the cooling fan system.

In the first case, you may have paid a minimum of $700 Australian dollars, for example, for a repair that did not diagnose the real problem of a damaged evaporator or condenser. The follow up repair may add an additional $1,000 to $1,200 on the earlier bill. Initial correct diagnosis of the problem or problems may have led to a total of $1,000 rather than combined bills of $1,800 to $2,000. This is an alarming example of how poor mechanic performance can lead to large bills being paid by the car owner. Should you require your car service center to regularly service the air conditioning to prevent future problems? The answer would generally be – yes. However, I have driven the same car for 12 years with little servicing on the air conditioning system and no problems have occurred. Where as, I know people whose cars have developed air conditioning faults after routine servicing.

A further complication with car air conditioning can be caused by extra computerization such as when a climate control regulator is fitted to the system. Some mechanics can have difficulty resetting the calibration on a climate control system with the result being there is no real graduation between the settings. That is, the air conditioning functions at extremes either hot or cold and nothing in between. The car owner naturally drives away feeling very dissatisfied when a mechanic produces a result of this kind.
In order to prevent future problems in your car air conditioning system there is one easy step you can take. Make sure you run the air conditioning for short intervals in winter as well as summer. By doing this you will help to avoid any drying out of seals within the system, which when damaged, can cause leaks to develop within the air conditioning and ultimately the gassing to be lost. Any such damage will always require costly repairs. This is a case of prevention is always better than cure.