How does the A/C system work?
Having a good understanding of how the components work can help to explain the methods of repairs in the air conditioning system. Your vehicle’s air conditioning system does not create cold air. It actually takes the heat and moisture out of the air that’s already in your vehicle, leaving behind the cool air.
You turn the A/C system on and the compressor compresses the system’s refrigerant (Freon) raising its temperature. It loses heat as it flows through the condenser. It passes through the receiver/dryer where contaminants and moisture are removed, and then on to the expansion valve/accumulator where the refrigerant is slowed down further, causing it to lose pressure and temperature before it gets to the evaporator. The evaporator is like a mini radiator inside the dash of your ride that gets cold as it further lowers the temperature of the refrigerant and, additionally, removes moisture from the air. The ventilation system’s blower motor blows air over the cold evaporator and pushes cool air into the passenger compartment.
Your Car’s A/C Components
Your air conditioning system is made up of a compressor, of a condenser, an evaporator (or drier), refrigeration lines, and sensors. Here’s an explanation of what each part is and why it’s important.
- Condenser: The condenser is like a miniature radiator, usually mounted at the front of the car right next to your big radiator. Sometimes the condenser will have its own electric cooling fan, too. The hot compressed air passes through the condenser and gets much cooler as it dissipates the heat it’s carrying. As it cools, the gas condenses back into a liquid.
- Evaporator: The evaporator is another little radiator that serves exactly the opposite task as the condenser. As the super-cool liquid is passed through the evaporator’s tubes, the air is forced through and gets really cold, right before it blows into the cabin of your car. As the liquid refrigerant warms up again, it starts turning back into a gas and continues to circulate through the system.
- Thermal Expansion Valve: To control the air temperature, the A/C system has a valve that controls the flow of super-cool refrigerant to the evaporator. This allows your car to regulate just how cold the blowing air gets. There are several types of valves, but they all do the same thing.
- Dryer or Accumulator: The dryer, also known as the receiver-dryer, serves as something like a safety catch for your system. Although the compressor is intended to compress only the gas form of your refrigerant, there’s always a chance that some liquid could make it back to the dryer. The dryer catches liquid before it can damage your compressor. Since even the tiniest leak or careless installation can introduce water moisture into the system, the dryer absorbs this chemically using what’s called desiccant. The dryer also has a filter that catches any contaminants that might in the system.
How Often Should My A/C Be Inspected?
That answer relies on you. Ask yourself these questions.
- How’s the air feeling in your rides?
- Are you refreshed and cooled with full airflow when your A/C is pumping?
If you answered yes to those questions, you won’t have to worry about your A/C getting inspected. But, if you answered no, then it’s best you stop by and have your auto air conditioner inspected. Even if the issue is that it’s taking too long to cool your car, then it’s time to stop by Eric’s Car Care.
Now that you know what being cool is all about, if you have problems being cool, set up an appointment at Eric’s Car Care for an A/C Performance Check.