Know Your Car’s A/C

Air conditioning in automobiles has come a long way from the giant blocks of ice used to cool down the interior of the car. Now, a vehicle can be climate-controlled with completely different settings for drivers and riders. And for those who live in hot climates the A/C can be your best friend on those scorching summer days. It’s more than just a luxury – it’s a necessity.

Many different factors go into making your car’s A/C function right. Most of us are familiar with the common terms like Freon and fans, but there is another entire system that helps bring temperatures down. Understanding how they work will help you better gauge the health of your vehicle and know when to take it in for repair work – before the weather gets too hot.

A/C Components: Breaking It All Down

There are several major components to an A/C, all of which are connected through a series of hoses and ports:

  • Accumulator
  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Evaporator
  • Receiver (or dryer)
  • Thermal expansion valve or orifice tube

The compressor serves as the hub. It takes the refrigerant (like Freon) and pressurizes it into cool air. Some compressors can even sense temperature changes.

Do you know this symbol?

When you make the shift to bring in air from the outside rather than recirculating, your compressor will know just how hot it is and when (or whether) to start the cooling process.

Compressors commonly fail due to leaky seals and inadequate lubrication. It is good practice to turn your A/C on periodically to take note of any potential problems in these areas.

And you know that big belt that turns your engine? The compressor is just one of the many components the belt also controls. The tail doesn’t wag the dog.

Then condenser is found at the front of the radiator. It take the hot gases produced by the refrigerant and reduces the temperature and pressure, resulting in a liquid that moves on to the receiver, alternately known as a dryer.

There’s a lot going on in the A/C, and because of all the moving parts, liquids and gases, a catchall preventing contaminants from spewing out of your air vents is required. This is where the receiver or dryer comes in. It uses desiccants to trap the harmful debris, moisture or liquid before the cold air transitions over to the ducts.

Similarly, an accumulator monitors, filters and stores excess refrigerant so as not to damage the compressor. If moisture from the condenser reaches the compressor, it can mix to create a damaging corrosive acid. Evaporators cool the air and remove the last bits of moisture before exiting the vent and keeping you cool and refreshed in the heat.

The thermal expansion or orifice tube keeps the two major components, the condenser and the compressor, balanced. It stands vigil over pressure, temperature and refrigerant levels to determine the safest amount of liquids that can pass through to the evaporator. Probably the most important part of the A/C, when this piece malfunctions, it can mean major problems to your whole unit.

A/C Care

Each of these components is housed in a single system, with the average lifespan varying depending on usage and the kind of climate in which you live.

Your car’s A/C is a sealed unit. Much of what might be wrong may not be immediately visible; it is not something you need inspected or serviced unless you notice a change.

If the temperature of the air coming through the A/C vents is not as cold as it should be or you discover another possible issue with the system, schedule an inspection with Colony One today. We’ll inspect, diagnose and fix the problem at hand to make sure you stay cool in the sweltering Houston heat.