Our IVS 360™ support team is now receiving many more calls about air con issues as a result of rising mercury levels during May preceding a cool spring.
“It’s a very consistent yearly pattern,” said Tony Gill, Customer Support Manager for UK and ROW at Opus IVS. “The arrival of warm weather and sunshine – which took a while this year – sees motorists turning the air con on again or just noticing that it’s not working when the weather warms.”
Tony highlights five common air con issues to look out for below:
Refrigerant loss and leakage
Car air con systems permeate refrigerant naturally due to high pressures, vibration and the physical joints in the system. The rate of loss can increase when the system is not used over winter. Pinpointing leaks is often difficult. Opus IVS says hose unit connections are a common culprit. Fixes can include sealants or replacement of o-ring seals or components.
Blocked or damaged condenser
The condenser is located at the front of the vehicle and relies on airflow to remove heat from the refrigerant gas so that condensation occurs back into a liquid state. The placement of the condenser, as well as the small air gaps, make it susceptible to blockage from dust and debris, preventing it from cooling the refrigerant properly.
When blocked, the air con system will blow warm air. Fortunately, the condenser is often easy to visually check. Condensers can also be punctured by stones or suffer pin hole leaks from internal or external corrosion. In these cases, a replacement will be required.
Electrical issues can be the most difficult problems to diagnose on air con systems. Visually check wires for breaks, insulation damage or corrosion and make a suitable repair or replacement as necessary. Electrical components like fuses, relays, switches and sensors can all become faulty too leading to trouble codes, system failure or intermittent cooling issues.
Faulty fans or blower motors
Electrical condenser fans maintain air flow when the vehicle is stationary. If they don’t function properly the system will start to blow warm air, particularly in hotter ambient conditions. A visual inspection of fan operation should include checking fan blades for cracks or damage which, along with blown fuses, can be a common problem.
The blower motor and fan that circulates air through the vehicle can fail as well. The causes of reduced airflow at the vents could be a motor problem, broken fan blades or motor resistor issues.
The compressor is at the heart of the air con system, pressurising and circulating refrigerant. Lubricating oil is carried around the system with the refrigerant meaning that long periods where the air con is not used or low refrigerant levels can starve the compressor of oil. Regular use of the air con system is therefore always recommended.
Common signs of a failing compressor include noise, poor cooling, or the air con system not engaging at all. Compressor failure can spread metal debris within the air con system, requiring a thorough system flush before another compressor is fitted.
“Air con work is arriving into garages in greater volumes,” says Tony. “We often find simple checks like these, whilst also referencing diagnostic data such as temperate pressure charts and interpreting hi and low side gauge pressure readings will often diagnose problems"
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