Are you questioning whether your A/C is cooling as well as it used to? A failing A/C usually happens gradually over time and can initially be difficult to detect. Most of the time this is caused by a slow refrigerant leak, especially if your car is around 7 to 10 years old. But if your car is older or you are one of the unlucky few, this could be the result of a more serious issue. If you suspect that your system is beginning to fail, it is important to diagnose and repair sooner than later before it becomes and even more expensive problem.
The most common issue is a refrigerant leak which usually happens first in the rubber components of the system which wear out and become brittle over time. In older system, this can also begin to happen in the metal components. The easiest (and most costly) solution is to bring your vehicle into a mechanic for repair, and this might be the better option for old vehicles. The less expensive alternative is to recharge using A/C refrigerant with Stop Leak which rejuvenates and restores the rubber components. In more extreme cases there are also formulas that can seal metal leaks but if you are unsure then we recommend seeking a professional mechanic.
How to recharge with A/C Avalanche:
The next, and more serious issue is a failing A/C compressor. The compressor is the heart of the A/C and pushes refrigerant through the system. Below is a quick video clip to show you what an A/C compressor clutch looks like when running properly. We recommend looking under the hood and if you can locate the compressor, check it to see if the clutch is spinning and/or generating strange noises. Keep in mind that the compressor is in a different location in every vehicle, and some are more difficult to find than others. Make sure to set the A/C on maximum cold and air flow when examining the compressor.
If you hear a loud squealing sound when running the A/C then it could be a sign the compressor clutch is failing. When running properly, the clutch will continuously engage and disengage depending on several factors. If the clutch is completely disengaged, this could be a mechanical failure or a symptom of no refrigerant. Also, if the clutch is cycling on and off every few seconds then you might be low in refrigerant. If you decide to recharge with refrigerant and the clutch does not engage, stop charging immediately and bring the vehicle into a mechanic as you risk overcharging the system or worse.
There are additional components can fail in an A/C system, but these are the most common and easiest to diagnose. Again, if you have any doubts, bring the vehicle into a mechanic for repair. We hope this article has helped you to better understand the A/C system and possibly even helped you fixed the problem and save some money in the process!