Summer temps have been over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit in the San
Fernando Valley. It's miserable to be outside in the heat, but it's
even worse when the inside of your car is full of hot air and the
culprit is a malfunctioning air conditioning (A/C) system.
According to the Car Care Council, an annual checkup of your vehicle's A/C system can help prevent it from breaking down when you most need it, especially with record high temperatures hitting many parts of the country.
The typical A/C service consists of the following:
* A service technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.
* If the system is found to be low on refrigerant, a leak test is performed to find the source of the leak. Keep in mind that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, it is damaging the ozone layer.
* Refrigerant may be added if necessary to "top off" the system, although some states do not allow "topping off."
* A technician may also check for evidence of refrigerant cross-contamination. The refrigerant R-12, trade named DuPont Freon, has been replaced by R-134a. This refrigerant is touted as being environmentally safer than R-12 and has been a standard since 1994. The refrigerants are not inter-changeable. The refrigerant R-134a cannot simply be added to an older vehicle that was using R-12, without first flushing the system and replacing old components and the oil in the compressor. On older cars, this retrofit conversion may be a cost-effective option.
* A/C service should also include a check of the compressor's drive belt and tension.
"Getting stuck in traffic is hard enough but getting stuck in traffic during the heat of summer without a properly functioning A/C is the pits," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "It is important to always have the A/C system properly maintained to keep it in tip-top shape and avoid costly repairs down the road." The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.
For a copy of the council's Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.