In this day and age, there seems to be three really important aspects to automobiles in the eyes of most. Starting…Stopping…and making sure the A/C works!
Because we live in a climate with long stretches of warm and humid weather, people have become accustomed to a controlled climate while traveling. Folks of any age like to be cool in the car. The old 2-40 method has somewhat gone by the wayside (2 windows down, 40 miles an hour). With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on keeping the A/C system performance right where it needs to be.
Your A/C system will always function better when you are moving as the increased air flow across the condenser allows the system to cool better. It is normal for the air to not be quite as cool when you are at a stop. If the difference is drastic that could be a sign of low refrigerant. Having the proper charge is integral to an efficient A/C system. The only way to know for sure how much is in your system is to have it evacuated. At Dr. Automotive, we have three different machines to service systems. As the system is pulled down, the refrigerant is measured. After evacuating, our A/C machine is them programmed to install the correct amount of refrigerant and the system is evaluated for functionality. Refrigerant levels will very depending on the year, make and model of the vehicle.
There are other factors that can determine the A/C system performance. Engine coolant level and cooling system performance is certainly one. If the engine runs hotter than it is supposed to the A/C system cannot work efficiently. If your engine is kept cooler, you will be kept cooler as well.
Compressor performance is also a key component for climate control. The compressor of course must receive signal to engage. Sometimes electrical issues with control heads, relays, and connectors can cause issues. The compressor will not engage if the refrigerant level is low as a safe guard to protect it, but there are other factors that can cause it not to engage.
Restrictions in the system can also cause issues with cooling. Debris can accumulate over time and cause a lack of good flow throughout the system. The circle of A/C life includes compressor, condenser, accumulator, expansion valve (or orifice tube), and evaporator core. Of course, hoses and lines connect all of these components, and it is important to have the correct circulation so as the correct pressures are maintained.
So what’s the bottom line here? The A/C system is complex and not something just anyone needs to address. Our advice is when in doubt, consult a professional. Dr. Automotive, keeping people cool for over 15 years.