That's why it makes sense to maintain your vehicle's air conditioning (AC) so you don't get caught sweating in a heatwave while on the road. Especially when the average high temperature can reach 87F during the summer months in Lee's Summit.
There are other good uses for a working AC in a vehicle: it can help quickly remove condensation from the inside of your windshield for better visibility. But it's also essential for road trips and commuting during the warmer months.
Let's cool down for a moment and learn more about automotive AC and auto repair in Lee's Summit.
How Does Automotive AC Work?
First of all, you should know that automotive AC units don't create cold air. In fact, it's what your AC takes out of the air in your vehicle's cabin that makes a difference.
The compressor in the AC sucks up refrigerant in a gas form. The gas is then compressed, as you'd expect a compressor to do, and it is sent to the condenser. The refrigerant is cooled by outside air and becomes a high-pressure liquid. It passes through a dryer that removes any water from the system, which could form damaging ice build-up.
Once the high-pressure liquid leaves the dryer, it is allowed to grow again thanks to a Thermal Expansion Valve. The lower-pressure liquid then moves to the evaporator, which is what delivers the relief to you and your passengers.
The evaporator collects heat. The temperature of the cabin is enough to make the liquid turn back into a gas, which can actually absorb a lot of warmth. When the gas moves out of the evaporator, it removes heat in the cabin with it. It's actually a fan blowing on the evaporator coils that gives you that cool feeling on your face.
The cycle repeats itself – until of course, your AC breaks down.
History of Vehicle AC Refrigerant
Older model vehicles had AC units that ran on R-12 (Freon) gas. Actually, it was a partnership between General Motors and DuPont in the 1930s that started this trend.
However, it was determined that R-12 wasn't healthy for the environment, so it was banned by the government. R-12 contains chlorofluorocarbons (better known as CFCs).
While R-12 was generally considered safe and non-flammable, it was also found that this refrigerant was causing holes in the Earth's Ozone layer that protects living things from ultraviolet radiation.
The new standard for automotive AC refrigerant is R-134a and HFC-134a (deemed to be friendly to the ozone), which is used in all vehicles made after 1996. If your car is older than that and used R-12, it will need to be modified so it can use the newer alternative gas.
The good news is the ozone layer is healing itself thanks to the change. While R-134a is CFC-free, now it looks like R-134a refrigerant is being phased out as well.
Whatever refrigerant is used in your vehicle now and in future, it's important that a mechanic does this job because you may overcharge the system and cause damage.
Why Is My Vehicle's AC Broken?
There could be a number of problems when it comes to automotive AC. It could be a component failure or a lack of refrigerant.
For example, it may only be blowing cool air instead of cold air. It may be blowing cold air but the stream is very weak, which won't help you much on a sweltering day.
It can be hard to diagnose the problem on your own, which is why you need professional car repairs in Lee's Summit. The problem could be as simple as the condenser fan not blowing air into the cabin. The cabin filter might be clogged, reducing air flow. However, it could be something more serious, like the compressor having an issue.
Or there could be a leak in the system that's reducing pressure. Even a small leak in the system can reduce the efficiency of your AC system by a lot.
If you hear a loud screeching noise when you turn on the AC, then there's a good chance your compressor belt needs to be adjusted or replaced.
Ways To Stay Cool When Your AC Breaks
There are situations where you may be far from home and your air conditioning quits in your car. You won't want to be dripping sweat and have trouble breathing, so there are some alternatives you can try until you can bring the car to a mechanic in Lee's Summit.
In the meantime, here are some ways to stay cool in a broken AC situation:
- Open all windows and vents to maximize airflow through the cabin
- Place a wet cloth or even ice packs over the vents and turn the cabin fan up to blow cool air
- Leave your windows down a tiny bit when you're parked to avoid extreme heat accumulation
- Drink plenty of water while driving
- Put ice in a pan and place it near the floor vents
- Remove unnecessary clothing while driving, and try to wear light-colored clothing
- Tie your hair up to allow heat to escape your neck
These are only temporary solutions to get you through a long trip. You should have a professional take a look at your vehicle when you can.
Find Reliable Auto Repair in Lee's Summit
If your AC is running smoothly, you shouldn't have to "top up" the refrigerant. Technically, your car should be able to deliver cool air for years unless there's a problem.
Low levels of gas and other problems are a sign you should have your car looked at by a mechanic. Taking your vehicle to a garage that knows AC means you can a quick diagnostic, and also get transmission repairs and other services under one roof.
Not all auto repair in Lee's Summit includes AC repair. Contact us today for auto repair in Lee's Summit that specializes in air conditioning and transmissions to get you back on the road quickly and affordably. Also, ask about our free AC check!