Your car's AC is one of those systems that won't take you long to notice if it malfunctions - especially on a scorching summer day. However, if you learn to recognize the early warning signs of a failing AC system, you can avoid getting stuck without chilled air in 90-degree weather.

In this article, we'll discuss the warning signs of a problematic AC system, plus the most frequent AC repairs and maintenance services. 

Signs Your Vehicle's AC System Is Having Issues

There are several common signs that your AC is having - or will soon have - troubles. Of course, the most apparent one is that no cold air is coming out, which might warn of several problems. You may be out of refrigerant or have damaged cooling fans or clogged vents. Whatever it is, a visit to your local auto repair shop can quickly diagnose it. 

These are some other issues you should be on the lookout for.

  • Inability to sufficiently heat or cool your cabin: If your AC blows air that is only slightly cooler or warmer, this is another evident sign that something is wrong. If your defroster is not clearing condensation or thawing frost from your windshield, this is also an excellent reason to get your AC serviced. 
  • Inability to function when idling: If your AC system works only when your car is running but not when it's idling, have an AC technician check it out. 
  • Insufficient airflow: If your airflow is low even at the highest setting, get your AC serviced. 
  • Weird noises: Another easily recognizable warning sign is strange sounds from your AC, such as banging or rattling. Leaves or debris might be clogging your unit and causing the noise, or maybe an essential component has worn down and is on the verge of breaking. If you hear bizarre noises coming from your AC, have a professional repair technician diagnose it. 
  • Unpleasant smells: If a four odor is coming out of the vents, this may indicate mold growth in the unit. You should deal with this immediately, as mold can lead to respiratory problems. 
  • Water stains: If water begins to drain out from under your car after you've been running the AC for a while, this is normal. However, if there is no water draining and you spot water stains inside your car, you could have a problem. If the drain under your car becomes clogged or damaged, it will cause the draining water to back up. Then, it will flow into the car itself, usually pooling under your dash and by the floormats in the front. If this happens, have it checked out soon. 
  • AC leaks: There are several signs of leaks, including low pressure in the AC unit or the coolant itself draining around the car. However, leaks are usually tiny and difficult to spot. If you sense there may be a leak, have a professional take a look as soon as possible, as a leak can lead to more severe issues later on. 

AC System Evaluation

When bringing in your vehicle for a comprehensive evaluation of your AC and heating system, your technician will perform various tasks, including testing your cooling system's pressure and examining the blower and internal controls. Other standard elements of an AC inspection include the following.

  • Inspecting the radiator coolant's operating temperature: They will also check the hoses, thermostat and pressure radiator cap. 
  • Inspecting the compressor belt: This crucial component connects the compressor to the engine, enabling the engine's power to turn the compressor. Without this belt, the compressor will not be able to pressurize your AC system. 
  • Inspecting the system and seals for leaks: They will also keep an eye out for other damage.
  • Checking the AC pressure: They must verify that the pressure meets the manufacturer's specifications. 

AC Repair and Maintenance Services

Various parts under your hood play a role in your AC system, and our technicians can repair and maintain all of them. Here's an overview of the AC repair and maintenance services we provide. 

  • Hose inspection and replacement: Hoses transfer antifreeze and coolant throughout your engine's cooling system, including the radiator. However, these hoses will eventually dry out and become cracked. At Hoffman Ford, our team of experts will inspect your hoses and replace the worn ones with high-quality new ones.
  • Belt inspection and replacement: Your fan belts, or drive belts, connect your vehicle's engine to your front-mounted accessories. These belts rotate your water pump and engine fan, which are responsible for keeping the engine and its components cool. However, these belts eventually dry out and crack, in which case we can replace them in a jiffy. 
  • Coolant system flush: Your car's coolant system protects your engine from overheating by transferring excess heat from the engine to the outside air. Over time, however, the coolant will become dirty and old, adversely affecting your system's performance. To ensure everything is working correctly, it's a good idea to have a regular coolant system flush, which our technicians will gladly perform.
  • Radiator flush: Your car's radiator keeps your engine cool, but to do so, it must be clean at all times. Eventually, solid deposits like rust and sludge accumulate in the radiator, which clogs your cooling system and prevents it from doing its job. With a routine radiator flush, your system will work as it should.  
  • Radiator service: In addition to flushing your radiator, you should also have it regularly serviced. If your radiator fails, it will no longer cool your engine components, and they may end up damaged. To avoid this situation, have our experts examine your radiator to ensure it continues to cool your engine components properly. 

AC Recharge Service

If your AC system isn't putting out cool air the way it used to, but the blower motor and other components seem to be working correctly, the most likely culprit is leaking refrigerant. If you suspect that your refrigerant is leaking, you should have it checked out as soon as possible to avoid harming the ozone layer.

The best way to evaluate a refrigerant leak is by having an experienced technician perform a diagnostic test. In this process, the technician will first top off your system with refrigerant. Then, they will pressurize it, looking for leaking coming from hoses, fittings or components. In many cases, the mechanic adds a UV dye to the refrigerant, which helps them locate tiny leaks with a UV lamp. 

Once they have found the leak and repaired it, they will then recharge the system to ensure it has the right amount of refrigerant. While recharging, they will use a sensitive pressure gauge to ensure they've charged it to the exact manufacturer specifications. 

Contact Hoffman Ford for AC Repair Services

If you need an AC inspection, evaluation, service or repair in Harrisburg, PA, our team of pros at Hoffman Ford can come to the rescue. Schedule an appointment by calling us at 888-689-5937 or filling out our form