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AC Trouble

Keeping Your Cool


With outside temperatures on the rise, the heat inside your vehicle reminds you that summer is in full swing.  But when you flip on your AC for relief, you get blasted with even more hot air.  Don’t sweat it; bring back the cool with some of these troubleshooting tips from your friends at O’Reilly Auto Parts.


  1. Get familiar with the main components of your system – Compressor, Refrigerant, Condenser, Expansion Valve, Evaporator, and the Receiver/Drier.
  2. Check for refrigerant leaks because this is the most common AC problem.  O’Reilly carries a leak detection kit that utilizes a fluorescent dye that when added to the system can identify the source of the leak.  You will also need to check the PSI level to see if your system has lost all pressure.  This can be done at the low-side valve.  Once you find the leak, repair and then refill the system with R-134a refrigerant.
  3. Examine the compressor and make sure it’s in working order.  With both your vehicle and the AC on, open the hood and confirm that the center of the pulley in the compressor is turning.  If not, this could indicate several things, including a wiring problem, broken AC switch at the dash, a bad cycling switch or a bad fuse.  Use a voltmeter to check for voltage; if there’s none, this usually means the clutch has gone bad and needs to be replaced.  Lastly, confirm the seal inside the compressor hasn’t been compromised.
  4. Feel the temperature of the air coming out of the vents inside the car.  If the air is only slightly cooler when set to max, ensure that the cooling fans are engaged.  If so, check for any obstruction in the cabin air filter that could cause blockage.
  5. Look for other common problems, including bad switches, bad fuses, broken wires or a broken fan belt (which prevents the pump from turning).
  6. Overall system failure means various components may need to be replaced, which can include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Expansion Valve – these valves regulate coolant flow, and because they are relatively small in diameter, are prone to clogging.  Whenever you are servicing your AC, these valves should be replaced.
  • Receiver/Drier – designed to trap the moisture within the AC system.  Unfortunately, when the system has a leak, it allows air into the desiccant bag located inside this component as the refrigerant exits.  The moisture inside the air will eventually break down the desiccant bag to the point of necessary replacement.
  • Remember, any time there is still refrigerant inside the system; it must be removed by a certified AC technician.

While you may need to eventually service your AC unit down the road, you might be able to get some immediate relief by performing some of these tasks on your own.  As always, consult your owner’s manual prior to any maintenance, and then get cooled off with all the AC products you need at your local O’Reilly Auto Parts.  Better Parts…Better Prices…Everyday!

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