So you got up this morning, you drank your morning coffee, scanned your emails, showered and were out the door. So far so good. You noticed that today might be a little muggy. No problem—you are only a few feet away from the sweet, sweet air conditioned comfort of your car. You slip into your car, buckle up, turn the key, and switch the A/C fan on high. It is at that moment you realized that your car has betrayed you. It’s blowing nothing but hot air. What do you do?
Number one; don’t panic. Yes, A/C repair can be expensive. I’m sure a part of you is already calculating how much of your vacation fund you will have to raid in order to fix it. But before you write off the summer vacation, there is some sleuthing to do. Once you analyze the facts, you can then determine how expensive solving the problem really is. The good news? In most cases the problem can be solved for under a $100.
So let’s get started. The first thing you want to do is think about how your A/C has been acting over the last couple of weeks. When was the last time that it was blowing really cold? Did it gradually begin blowing hot air over a two week period, or did it happen all at once? Has there been any weird noises coming from the engine when you turn the A/C on? If your car is making really strange or unusual noises when you turn the air conditioner on, you should seek professional help immediately. Also check to see if the compressor clutch is actually turning. This video shows you how to tell if your compressor is turning on or not. If your compressor is not running, seek the advice of a professional. If everything seems fine (compressor is running and no strange noises) then you may have landed in that lucky under $100 problem we referred to earlier.
The most common reason that a car gradually loses its cool is a small refrigerant leak in the system. If your system slowly loses refrigerant over a two week period then a leak additive will most likely fix your problem. Typically refrigerant leaks occur in cars that are over 5 years old because the rubber O-rings that seal the different components of the system have become brittle and inelastic allowing the refrigerant in the system to leak past them.
In most cases this can be cured by adding a refrigerant with a proven stop leak additive and O-ring conditioner. A premium refrigerant such as A/C Pro® contains stop leak additives and O-ring conditioners that will stop these leaks in most cases. It also contains special lubricants that help to extend the life of your compressor. While you’ve got the hood open, check to make sure that there are dust caps on the service ports of your A/C. If there are none, pick them up at your local car parts store and put them on. Dust caps on service ports are not an optional item. They are an integral part of maintaining the refrigerant in your car’s A/C system.
In some cases pin hole sized leaks occur in the metal components of the car’s A/C system. Components such as the dryer, evaporator, or condenser are made of metal and require a different type of sealant to stop the leak. A sealant such as Super Seal is perfect for this type of application. Super Seal circulates within the A/C system of the car as a liquid until it is exposed to a crack or pin-sized hole. When exposed to moisture and the outside air it forms a permanent seal in metal components to stop the leak. Super Seal is completely safe and is proven in over a million vehicles. Furthermore, Super Seal acts like added insurance for your system—if other leaks occur, Super Seal will still be in the system and be able to seal them.
Don’t worry; if you can check the pressure and add air to your tire, you are perfectly capable of adding sealant or refrigerant to your car’s A/C system. Remember, now that you’ve evaluated your A/C situation, your decision tree is quite simple:
- If the car’s A/C has gotten warm all of a sudden and/or there are weird noises coming from the under hood (i.e. you don’t know whether it is an engine or pile of chains in a cement mixer under the hood) or if you have determined that the clutch on your compressor is not cycling on, then you need to seek professional service.
- If the car’s A/C has slowly gotten warm over a period of two weeks or longer and there are no other extenuating circumstances, then chances are you can add A/C Pro® or Super Seal with refrigerant to fix the problem.