You might be surprised to learn exactly how your auto air conditioning system works. While it’s commonly assumed that the AC generates cool air, that’s not quite the case. Actually, it blows hot air, with all the heat removed through a peculiarly complex, multi-step process. In a nutshell, your auto air conditioning works by condensing the refrigerant (Freon), which in turn raises its temperature. This passes through a dryer, where contaminants and moisture are removed, then into an accumulator where it’s slowed down further, leading to a loss of both pressure and temperature. The evaporator then cools down that air further still before the ventilation system pushes it out—and you experience it as a blast of chilly air!
Your air conditioning unit keeps the car comfortable, but that’s not all. It also helps keep it contaminant-free, the air reasonably clean and healthy. Finally, your auto air conditioning unit can help to demystify foggy windows in the winter months, which is a major safety feature.
If you ever find that your auto air conditioning isn’t working as it’s supposed to—that is, that your auto air conditioning no longer provides nice, cool air—that’s the #1 sign that it’s time for an AC check. With that said, there’s merit to getting AC service done as regular, preventative maintenance—perhaps when you have your tires rotated or your oil changed. This allows you to stay on top of your AC help, and address any potential issues before they spiral out of control.
As for when it’s necessary to get your AC looked at, the short answer is: Any time you find that you’re not getting cool air like you used to. Additionally, it’s typically smart to have an AC check once or twice a year, as part of your preventative maintenance. This helps you keep ahead of any potential problems, resolving them before they turn into bigger or more expensive repair needs.
The question is, when is it time to get an AC check? For starters, you should get one any time you notice that your auto air conditioning isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. If there’s no cool air coming out, that obviously spells trouble. Moreover, it’s prudent to get an AC check as part of regular preventative maintenance—say, at the same time you have an oil change or tire rotation. This will help you spot any small problems before they turn into big ones.
There are a couple of things that can cause your auto air conditioning system to malfunction. The first is that it simply runs out of refrigerant; a regular AC check will help prevent this from happening. Also, your AC can simply undergo too much wear and tear. Any one component can malfunction, but addressing the problem early on prevents the repair needs from becoming too big or expensive.
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