photo credit: Kaboompics
With the extreme high and low temperatures in New York, having functioning heating and air conditioning in your vehicle is a must. As we head into the summer months in Baldwinsville, NY, it is essential to make sure that your car’s air condition (AC) system is ready to cool you down as temperatures rise. But have you ever wondered how your vehicle’s AC system worked?
HOW DOES A VEHICLE’S AC WORK?
There are several types of automotive AC systems but the two most common types used are the orifice tube and expansion valve systems. The five primary components to a vehicle’s AC system are the compressor, condenser, accumulator (or receiver-drier), orifice tube (or expansion valve), and evaporator. Here is the basic operation of an AC system:
Refrigerant: The AC system is filled with a refrigerant gas known as Freon or R134A. Refrigerant has the ability to change from gas to liquid during compression. R134A is the common refrigerant used in most vehicles up to 2020. In 2014, auto makers began installing new AC systems in some vehicles that were designed to be used with a new refrigerant, R-1234yf, which contained much lower global warming potential (GWP) than R-134A. R-1234yf is ultimately better for the environment but more expensive as it is not compatible with every vehicle on the road today, especially older vehicles.
Compressor: The compressor turns the refrigerant into liquid. When the refrigerant gas is compressed, it becomes very hot and is then sent through the condenser.
Condenser: The condenser cools the refrigerant. The condenser features a section of coils that outside air passes over to remove heat from the compressed gas. This results in the gas cooling and condensing into a liquid state.
Accumulator: The accumulator (also known as a receiver-drier) is a canister in the AC system that contains a desiccant (a substance used as a drying agent) to absorb moisture. The accumulator (receiver-drier) is responsible for monitoring and controlling the amount of refrigerant that goes into the evaporator.
Filter: The AC’s inline filter will trap and remove any debris in the air, allowing only clean air to continue passing through.
Expansion valve: This valve restricts the flow of refrigerant, causing it to change from a liquid at high pressure into a mist at low-pressure before it goes into the evaporator.
Orifice tube: An orifice tube is an alternative to an expansion valve that essentially creates the same refrigerant mist result.
Evaporator: When the mist flows through the evaporator, a blower motor will push the air over the evaporator’s cold tubes to create cool air that is sent into the cabin of your vehicle.
photo credit: taems
THE AC SYSTEM IS IMPORTANT IN THE WINTER
Your vehicle’s AC system is very important in the winter too! Many makes of vehicles automatically activate the AC system when the windshield defrosters are turned on. The AC system is the best way to dehumidify or dry damp air to keep the inside windows from misting up.
WHY IS MY AIR CONDITIONING BLOWING HOT AIR?
If any of the AC’s major components becomes damaged, your cool car can turn into a furnace during the summer months. The issue can be as simple as recharging the AC system or an actual repair or replacement of parts.
WHAT IS AN AC RECHARGE SERVICE?
At Lou’s Car Care, a technician will inspect your vehicle’s AC system for any leaks or wear and make repair recommendations, if necessary. If there are no obvious leaks, the technician will evacuate the old refrigerant using a special machine and recharge the system by injecting new refrigerant and dye (used to detect smaller leaks) back into the system. The technician will then complete a performance test and an electronic leak test. In some instances, certain leaks may not be detected right away and you may need a follow up visit to further assess the issue once the dye has moved through the AC System.
Lou’s Car Care technicians are highly trained in AC system repairs. If you’re vehicle is not providing the desired cooling it should, let Lou’s take care of you! Serving the Baldwinsville, Syracuse, Liverpool, Camillus, Cicero, Clay, Fayetteville, and Manlius communities since 1976. Call us at 315-352-5464 or schedule and appointment today!