Car air conditioning repairs best left to experts

Michael James

Repairing the air conditioning system in cars is best left to experts.

Like windshield wipers that suddenly don’t work properly in a rainstorm or a flat tire when you’re late for an appointment, there’s no good time for your car’s air conditioning to fail.

In summer months, of course, the process that cools and removes humidity from the air in a car is often used to its capacity. To run efficiently, it’s imperative an air conditioner has the proper level of refrigerant, the cooling agent.

But if the air conditioning isn’t working or if it’s not blowing cold air of there’s a clicking noise coming from the engine, it’s likely the unit needs to be recharged. And that’s not as simple as just adding refrigerant.

Repairing the air conditioning system in cars is best left to experts.
Repairing the air conditioning system in cars is best left to experts.

With new legislation on the horizon that will prohibit the use of the now legal and commonly used refrigerant R-22 (often called Freon), it’s best to seek to hire or at least seek the advice from a certified HVAC technician.

The reason: Certified technicians are knowledgeable. The know how to easily recharge air conditioners. They’re also aware of a commonly used, unsafe replacement product with nearly an identically name, R-22a.

According to Environment Protection Agency (EPA) R-22a can “catch for or explode, resulting in engine property damage” when used in air conditioner not designed to used propane. Since the name of the two refrigerants are nearly identical, consumers and HVAC technicians have again recently been warned by the EPA of the potential dangers. Using R-22a could also void a unit’s warranty.

Beyond using the right refrigerant, consumers must able also be aware of the several guidelines — whether they’re higher a technician or at recharging their own vehicle.

According to the EPA:

* A refrigerant must be approved by the EPA and can’t be intentionally released (vented) to the environment.

* Technicians working on motor vehicle air condition systems (MVAC) must be certified under section 609 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and they must use approved refrigerant handling equipment.

* If an individual recharges their vehicle, the refrigerant must be properly recycled or reclaimed before it can be reused. It’s required even if the refrigerant is being returned to the vehicle from which it was removed.

A properly working air conditioner will not only make a vehicle’s occupants more comfortable, it’s a good general interest maintenance practice to keep the receipts from any repair service. When it’s time to sell the vehicle, accurate maintenance records can increase the value of the car to potential buyers.

Article Last Updated: July 18, 2016.

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