Keeping Cool Under Pressure

Owning a car means needing to make peace with a certain amount of maintenance over the life of the vehicle. Car repairs happen; the only question, really, is determining when the issue is big enough to warrant bringing the vehicle to our Master Muffler car repair center in Kearns.

Luckily, there are a number of problems that can be handled on your own, if you’re feeling adventurous. By cruising around our blogroll, you’ll get a good sense of what those types of problems are, by increasing your understanding of the car and its various components. In no time, you’ll understand the difference between the catalytic converter and the fuel lines or whether your air compressor needs to be professionally replaced or you simply need to recharge the a/c.

This latter issue, in particular, is good to know, because it’s hard to keep cool about car repairs when all you feel is hot air. Let’s take a look at your car’s air conditioning unit and figure out what recharging really means.

Learning the Basics of Your A/C

Much like the HVAC unit for your house, your car’s air conditioning uses many of the same parts in roughly the same way — a compressor, condenser, and evaporator work in tandem (along with some sort of coolant) to repurpose exterior air into being either hot or cold. Here’s a breakdown of that process:

  • The refrigerant gathers heat in the compressor, which turns the gas into a liquid
  • The liquid is moved to the condenser which exposes the liquid refrigerant to cooling from outside air coming in through a vent
  • Having been cooled, the liquid refrigerant travels to an expansion valve wherein it becomes a gas once more
  • Whatever condensation is left after this transformation is removed and the gas is sent to an evaporator
  • The gaseous refrigerant sucks the hot air from the evaporator as it travels through, leaving behind cold air that is then blown out of the vents into the cabin. 

Normally, when an HVAC system goes bust in your home, you need to call the manufacturer out to your neighborhood so they can take a look at it. These highly specialized repair workers will run a diagnostic test on the unit itself and may even need to see elsewhere in the house if the problem isn’t clear immediately. Luckily, the team at our Kearns car repair center is well-versed in all aspects of your car and can diagnose the problem and prescribe a fix all while seeing to other parts of your tune-up.

Where Recharging Fits In

Before we need to jump straight to a full-blown air conditioning repair job, it could be that your car’s a/c unit simply needs a recharge. How does this fit into the operation of the unit? While the term “recharge” may hint at some kind of electrical component, the truth is much more simple: over time the refrigerant will leak out and needs to be replaced. 

The lack of pressure caused by lower levels of coolant will lead to your car not blowing cold air. Happily, this type of car repair is easily fixed and can be completed in minutes. All you need is a pair of gloves, some safety glasses, a can or two of refrigerant, and a PSI pressure gauge.

A Note Before We Begin

It’s advisable not to attempt to recharge your a/c if the temperature surrounding the car is 55℉ or lower. Your pressure gauge should also have a hose so it can attach to the low side port more easily.

How It’s Done

The steps are relatively simple and are as follows.

  • Locate the low-side port. It is on a tube running between the compressor and the evaporator. You may need to consult your vehicle’s service manual to find it. Once you find it, unscrew the plastic cap on the port.
  • Connect the can to the car. Attach the PSI gauge to the refrigerant can and shake it well. Then connect the hose to the port you just unscrewed (if you are in the right place, you’ll hear the can click into position). You may need to shake the can periodically.
  • Turn on the car’s a/c. It should be on full blast with the cool air turned all the way down.
  • Read the gauge. Once the compressor is running, look at the gauge’s readings. If the needle is in the red, take the car to our Kearns Master Muffler for repairs. If the needle is in the yellow or green, the refrigerant levels are fine (though with yellow, you may need to service the vehicle anyway). If the needle is in the white, add more refrigerant.
  • Adding refrigerant. To add coolant, simply pull the trigger on the can. Every few seconds, turn the can from vertical to horizontal and back again. Don’t hold the trigger down for longer than 10 seconds.
  • Disconnect. Once the gauge shows you’re in the green, disconnect the hose and replace the plastic port cap. You may have refrigerant left in the can; if so, simply store it in a cool place with the gauge still attached.

If you have any further questions about the state of your air conditioning unit, feel free to drop by our Kearns car repair center to speak with a professional.