In the olden days, real men had mahogany tanned right arms, because they used to drive with their elbows sticking out of the open window (to show off their biceps). Actually, the window was open to cool the car down. Most cars did not have aircon – in fact, road trips during summer were often done at night to avoid the heat.
Even though air conditioners for cars go as far back as the ‘30s, they were rare for the next fifty years, found only in luxury cars. With time, the cost of aircon came down and by the ‘90s most cars had them. There are very few cars now without.
How Does Your Aircon Work?
Actually, who cares as long as it does. Suffice to say, it is a closed-loop system that runs liquid through a condenser to cool it, then turns it into a gas and because of thermodynamics, it becomes very cold and allows you to chill out in your ride. Very technical, even if I have to say so myself. For most of us, you press that button and your car becomes cool. Until it stops doing that.
Why Does Your Aircon Not Work?
This is an important question and it becomes more important the hotter the day is. There are a number of reasons why your aircon stops working well or just stops working altogether.
Your aircon is a closed-loop system that operates under pressure and at different temperatures at either end. Even a minute leak will eventually cause the refrigerant to escape, leaving you hot and bothered. If the leak took a couple of years to become noticeable, you can simply replace the refrigerant for a couple of hundred bucks. But if the deterioration happened quickly, the aircon people can put an inert die in the system to find the leak.
The condenser is like a small radiator in front of your car’s radiator. If gunk builds up on the cooling ducts, it will not work very well. You can have that cleaned off. Sometimes you need to flush out the inside of the condenser. However, most of the time your condenser will last longer than your car.
If the fan stops working, all that lovely cool air will go round and round and you will sweat. Fans stop working because they wear out or there is an electrical fault. It can also not work properly if a vent in the system is stuck, which will allow hot air from the engine to blow through as well.
Other Airflow Problems
If your cabin air filter is clogged, it will reduce the volume of fresh air going into the aircon system. It could even be something as irritating as a plastic bag that got sucked into the engine bay and is blocking the airflow.
What To Do?
Aircon is not rocket science, but it does require specialist knowledge and equipment. If your car loses its cool, take it to your trusted car dealer and ask for their advice. They would be able to fix it for you or direct you to someone who can.