April 26

The Challenges of Air Conditioning Repairs

Car Maintenance


Air conditioning problems occur from one of two areas: the first and most common are mechanical problems and the second are electrical.
Vehicle Air conditioning system
While we attempt to accurately diagnose your air conditioning concerns first time around, using state of the art equipment and skilled technicians, due to the nature of A/C systems this is not always possible.

Generally speaking, electrical problems, once found and repaired give little problem later. Mechanical concerns however are another matter.
The mechanical components of your A/C system include: the compressor, accumulator or filter/dryer, evaporator core and condenser. These parts are all connected by hoses and lines.

Contained within the system is the refrigerant: a special fluid that can change its state from gas to liquid and in so doing, cools the inside of your car.

Leaks are the most common mechanical failure; however compressors will fail and blockages can occur in many areas of the system. Finding leaks and blockages can be time consuming and may require multiple diagnostic procedures, which may include multiple repairs.

It is impossible to be 100% certain of any A/C leak diagnosis due to several factors. These include hidden components such as the evaporator which is contained inside a box under the dash; or leaks that will only show up when the system is fully charged and operating. And sometimes, a leak may only occur when a vehicle hits a bump.

To ensure that we find your problem as efficiently as possible here is a brief outline of the tests that we do:

    Our diagnostic procedures start with a refrigerant identification to be certain that the installed refrigerant is either R12 or R134a. All other types of refrigerants and contaminated refrigerants must be properly disposed of.

    If the refrigerant passes identification then we test system operating pressures: if the pressures are low, there is likely a leak in the system. The refrigerant will then be evacuated and leak diagnosis will follow.

    We utilize several methods for leak detection: nitrogen gas, UV dye, electronic leak detectors & ultrasonic leak detection. Most leaks will be found with these methods however some leaks are very difficult to find due to specific conditions mentioned above (the evaporator for example, which is encased in a box under the dash on most cars).

    If leaks are found we will repair them, refill the system, reinspect for further leaks and if none are noted and the system operates as it should we will return the car to you.

From this, we provide our 1 year/20,000 km warrantee on the components we have replaced and repairs to the leaks that we have found. We cannot be certain that further problems and leaks may not be present: these may show up days, weeks or months down the road. As we always add UV dye to your system this may assist in us finding future leaks.

Further areas of mechanical problems are blockages in your A/C system. These may not be evident until all leaks are repaired and the system is fully recharged and tested. If system pressures are too high or low and/or interior cooling is inadequate, further diagnosis will be required.

As you can see, A/C repairs can be simple or complex, and sometimes require multiple diagnostic and repair procedures. You may perhaps wonder, why not just change the whole system and be done with it? While that is possible, it is cost prohibitive as the air conditioning system consists of many parts distributed throughout your vehicle.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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