Automotive Repair-How to Understand your Vehicle’s Air Conditioning System

Posted by on May 9, 2012 | No Comments

Most vehicles today have an air conditioning system that makes the ride in the summer months most enjoyable. In the Deep South it is almost a must to have a good air conditioner in your vehicle and when it quits, the driver and occupants really suffer. There is nothing worse than being stuck in rush hour traffic on a very hot and humid day with no air conditioning and no breeze in sight.

Even though it’s not a good way to conserve fuel, you may have to run the AC in the middle of summer. If the car gets overheated it is dangerous for the car but when the driver gets overheated it may result in road rage. It takes almost 8 horsepower to run your AC. This does consume fuel. However, when on the open road where the speed limit is sixty, running the air conditioner is probably a better financial choice than having the windows open. If the window is down it will create a drag and make the car work harder.

How does the air conditioner of the car work?

Car ACs work like window ACs. Freon is a gas that is contained by being sealed. The system has a compressor that pressurizes the Freon. As this happens the heat around the unit is absorbed. Hot gas is then absorbed and passed through a series of tubes at coils. Contrary to what you might imagine, the system does not add cold air but instead removes collected heat. Pressure on the Freon is reduced and it turns into a cold liquid. The newer models of vehicles use an environmentally friendly Freon R-134a instead of the original Freon that was dangerous to work on and hard on the Ozone layer. It’s not illegal to work on these without a license.

There are several parts of a cooling system.

There is the compressor which is the main part of your air conditioning system. The compressor compresses the Freon. To run, the compressor is connected by a belt to the engine. The clutch is in the compressor and gets turned on when you flip on the AC.

Located next to the radiator, there is a condenser. The little radiator pushes the cooled air into the car. In order to control it from getting too cold, there is a thermal expansion valve. That is why you can choose how cold you want the air to be that blows into your vehicle. The accumulator will collect and filter sludge in the system.

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