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Everything You Need To Know About Your Car's A/C

There are few things better than a cold blast of fresh A/C coming through your car vents on a hot summer’s day. Believe it or not, your vehicle’s A/C isn’t a simple ice machine. There are a lot of components that work in conjunction to ensure you have that refreshing flow of chilled air. The cold air generated by your A/C system is actually hot air with hot gases removed during a multi-step process.

There’s a lot of thermodynamics involved but we’ll spare you the more complicated details. The Cliff notes version is that changes in pressure cause changes in temperature. When you turn on your car’s A/C, the compressor compresses the system’s refrigerant (Freon) which raises its temperature. As it flows through the condenser, it loses heats. It then passes through the receiver/dryer where contaminants and moisture are removed, then continues on to the expansion valve/accumulator where the refrigerant is slowed down, further reducing the pressure and temperature. Next up is the evaporator, which is like a mini radiator inside the dash. The evaporator further gets cold as it lowers the temperature of the refrigerant even more and 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.

All in all, your A/C system consists of five major components:

-          Compressor

-          Condenser

-          Receiver dryer or accumulator

-          Orifice tube or expansion valve

-          Evaporator

There are also hoses and refrigerant charging ports that connect everything together.

How often should I have my A/C inspected?

For starters, you should immediately schedule an inspection if you notice any issues with you’re a/C. How’s the air feeling when you drive? Do you feel refreshed and cooled down? Does your A/C have any weird smells coming through it? Does it take a long time for your vehicle to cool down? If your A/C is working great and you’re feeling cool as a cucumber, you can cross an A/C inspection off your list. Otherwise, in general, you should get your car’s A/C inspected at least once a year.

How often do I need my A/C system recharged?

When you start to notice that your A/C isn’t blowing as chilly as it used to, it’s time to get your A/C system installed. In reality, a well maintained A/C system can go its entire life without needing a recharge, but that’s reserved for the most lucky of us. In an A/C recharge, more refrigerant will by added to your vehicle. Most modern cars used a refrigerant called R134a which doesn’t need to be topped off quite as often.

What is refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a synthetic product intentionally designed to transform hot air into cold air by absorbing and releasing heat, leaving cold air behind. Different types of devices use different types of refrigerant, including your home A/C system, refrigerator, and other types of vehicles.

What is freon?

Older versions of Freon was banned in the mid-1990s by the EPA found that is was depleting the planet’s ozone layer. Vehicles have since switched to the CFC-free R-134a. Since then, the ozone layer has regained its structure and the ozone holes caused by CFCs are expected to be fully closed by about 2050, according to the EPA.

What are the most common issues with car’s A/C systems?

The most common issues are contamination, A/C leakage, evaporator failure, compressor problems, or worn belts.

If you notice your car blowing warm air through the vents after it’s been running for a while, your friendly technicians at Main Street Mechanic are here to help! We’ve built our name by treating every car like it’s our own, and we’ll do the exact same with yours. Call us today, stop by, or schedule an appointment online to keep you and your family cool in this summer heat.




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337 West Main Street
American Fork, UT 84003


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