How To Check Your Air Conditioning

Posted by Motorama in Servicing Tips

Nothing worse than sweating in the Summer heat! Luckily your cars air conditioning is ice cold - or isn't it? If not, make sure you get it checked before the temperature rises and your car is a hotbox.

A properly working air conditioner is vital to keeping your car comfortable all year round. Regular car services will check for obvious faults but it's good practice to have a comprehensive air conditioning service done on a regular basis.

This doesn't mean your air conditioning will therefore work forever; any part might still fail and stop the air from flowing. Air conditioning systems contain moving parts and a complex system of hoses and seals that can dry out or crack, which could lead to coolant leaks and poor performance.

If this happens, bring it in to Motorama Tyre & Service and we'll give your air conditioning a thorough check – like this.

Visual Check

We start with a visual inspection. Sometimes the problem is right under your nose. If there is a big hole in your condensor (the part in from of your radiator that cools the refrigerant) caused by a rock for example, then the problem is easily found. The same goes for a broken compressor or compressor clutch, used to pump the refrigerant through the system; if the parts don't move anymore you can be pretty sure they're broken and need to be replaced. Then there is the visual inspection of all the hoses and caps, which might show you is there is a leak.

Other give aways are puddles of refrigerant underneath your car (not the standard amount of water dripping after you shut the car off, but a large amount). Obviously something is leaking if that amount of liquid comes out of a closed system. But other times the problem isn't so obvious and our mechanics need to get some speciality tools out to do more extensive checks to find out what the problem is and the air conditioning isn't cooling anymore.

Measure the Pressure

A static and operating pressure check is the second step in the process to discover what is wrong with your air conditioning. To perform this check we attach we attach refrigeration gauges to the so-called low and high side of the air conditioning to measure the pressure at both points. What these measurements should be depends on the ambient temperature and which refrigerant is in your system (R134A is the most common, where newer vehicles may use R1234YF and older systems R12).

The static check is performed before you start the vehicle and the pressure should be nearly equal in both gauges. Then we start the engine, run the air conditioning and have a look at the pressures again. If these are below or over what they should be this point to either a leak or an overflow. The latter is easily fixed by removing some of the refrigerant from the system, but if the pressure is too low there is a leak and this needs to be found before the system can be fixed.

Search For Leaks

Now this is where is gets a bit complicated, because the law forbids an air conditioning system to be gassed if there is a leak. But a (not obvious) leak can usually most easily be found by gassing the system and adding dye to the refrigerant that becomes visible under UV light. A big leak in an inconspicuous spot can be seen straight away using this method, but a small leak can take weeks to be visible. As we cannot keep the car for this long at the workshop you can take it home and come back in a few weeks time to have it checked again and the leak repaired.


Now what if there are no obvious leaks, the pressures are good and even searching for a leak after gassing the air conditioning system with dye doesn't show us anything, but your air still isn't cool? Then we'll plug in the electronics!

With the computer we'll be able to read any fault codes that might appear and tell you exactly which component isn't working. Why we wouldn't do this in the first place? Because the errors usually come from components hidden deep inside the air conditioning system which are more complicated and time consuming to repair. Better to have the obvious culprits checked first the 'traditional' way before going for the more costly ones.

Get It Fixed

Nobody likes to struggle in the heat during Summer and having your air conditioning blowing some ice cold air is therefore very important. It's not only more comfortable, but also safer. If you're standing still in traffic you might get overheated and especially with kids in the car it can become very uncomfortable without air conditioning.

The team at Motorama Tyre & Service is happy to check your air conditioning whenever you think it's not working 100% anymore and of course repair it accordingly. There are a lot of moving parts in an air conditioning system which can make a repair very complicated. Except for the obvious signs there is no way of telling what's wrong, but our specialised team is confident to find the issue and fix it. Motorama Tyre & Service can cater for any make or model. We have locations at Moorooka, Springwood and Browns Plains.

Book Air Conditioning Check

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