Summer is here, and if there’s something Los Angeles, Downey, and Long Beach residents will appreciate, it’s a working car air conditioner. No one wants an impromptu sauna, especially if they’re on their way to work or have a million other stressful things to deal with that day.
To help you keep your cool by staying cool, here are some factors you can look at while trying to diagnose your car’s broken AC system:
No Air Flow or Inconsistent Air Flow
Your first step to diagnosing the problem is to rule out scenarios based on what the AC can and can’t do. As any good experimenter knows, playing with one variable at a time can tell you a lot, even if all you find out is that part of the system works fine.
The prime concern in determining just how bad off your AC system could be is to see if it still blows air. With your car running, turn the AC on full blast with only the center vents opened. Then open side vents to move the air around. Try changing to the feet setting and defrost settings, too.
If you can’t get air out of any of your vents:
- Your electrical system may be bad. Try changing out the fuses. You may also have a faulty relay switch, which isn’t difficult to replace.
- Your blower motor is broken and needs to be replaced.
If air is coming out of certain vents but not others:
- Your dividers that separate the vents may have fallen out of place and are blocking airflow. These are called mode doors. Getting to them often requires taking your dash apart.
If air is flowing but weakly:
- You could have a clog in the lines or your air filter is dirty. Check for a moldy or garbage-like smell. You can clean your interior air filter yourself (check your owner’s manual to find it), but you’ll likely need a mechanic to clear out any clogs deep inside the system.
- Air that starts off strong and cold but then gets weaker and warm could mean an icing problem. Give your system time to defrost, but realize that icing usually means low coolant.
Only Warm Air Blows
If the air seems to be coming out of the right vents but it stays hot no matter what, you have a problem with the refrigerant cycle in your AC.
- Check to see if your blower motor clicks on. You can actually hear it in some cars a second or so after the AC is turned on. If it doesn’t come on, you probably have an electrical problem.
- Your compressor or your condenser may have issues. Wait for your engine to cool then open the hood and remove any debris from between the front grille of your car and the condenser, which is a series of coils right next to the radiator. Make sure your vehicle has enough coolant. If it does but the AC still won’t work, see a mechanic.
- Your refrigerant may have leaked out. See a mechanic who can identify the leak and recharge your coolant lines.
You Get Cold Air, But You Hear Strange Noises or the System Acts Up
- You may have an icing problem as indicated above.
- You could have debris in your vent or stuck in your compressor motor.
- You could have a blockage that only moves around when the air blows through.
- Your electrical system could have shorts that come and go as the vehicle runs for a while. This is likely the problem if other systems, such as the radio, tend to go haywire on occasion.
- Your compressor belt could be on its way out and needs replacement.
Even if you’re certain you’ve found the cause of the problem, unless it’s something like a blown fuse or a dirty filter, you likely won’t be able to address it on your own. Los Angeles, Downey, and Long Beach Ford owners should head to their nearest Ford dealership and have their car looked at. That way they can enjoy the sunny summer weather without praying for an ocean breeze to waft by every few seconds.