Many car owners don't give a second thought to their car's air conditioning system until it stops performing like it's supposed to. That's pretty common, but you may not actually recognize when your car's AC isn't functioning properly unless you know what to look for. Here's a look at some of the key indications that your car is in need of AC repair.
Is The Air Blowing Cold?
Whether due to wear or direct damage, your car's air conditioning system may leak refrigerant. This refrigerant is an essential part of keeping the air that blows through the vents cold. The lower the refrigerant levels, the harder it is for your car's AC to cool the air. The best way to check this is to start your car's engine, turn on the AC, and push the MAX AC button on the climate control panel.
Give it several minutes for the compressor to kick in and circulate some air, then feel the air that's coming through the vents. Does that air feel cool or cold? If your air conditioner is working as it should, that air should feel cold. If it's only feeling cool, you should reach out to a broken AC repair technician to have the compressor tested and repaired.
Is The Air Blowing Strong?
Another key sign that your car's air conditioning system may need repair lies in the flow of the air through the system. When you turn your air conditioning on and you turn the fan speed all the way up, you should feel a good strong flow of air through your car's vents. If you do this and the airflow feels moderate or worse, that's a sign that your air conditioner's condenser either isn't pushing enough air through the unit or the blower fan is malfunctioning. Your AC repair technician can isolate the source and address it.
Is Your Car's AC Making Noise?
Your car's air conditioning system runs off a compressor unit that's connected to the engine. Typically, that compressor also has a pulley attached because the system is driven by the serpentine belt, so the belt runs around that pulley.
When the compressor is failing or the bearings in the pulley are going bad, you'll start to hear a squealing, metal grinding, or similar sound coming from the engine when you start the car. The sound may even get louder as the engine RPM's increase. If you're hearing a noise like this from your car's engine and you're experiencing any other trouble with your air conditioning, you should reach out to an AC repair technician right away.
You can prevent total failure of the pulley and potential damage to your serpentine belt by investing in a smaller belt and bypassing the AC pulley until you can get it looked at. Talk with your mechanic about this possibility if necessary.