How Cool Is That?

How Cool Is That?
How Cool Is That?

It’s Summertime.  85, 90 degrees in the shade, 99 heat index. And we all know how brutal St. Louis Summers can be. The humidity alone can smother you. So you’re in your car on your way to work or school or errands or to get the kids.

Thankfully, you’ve got air conditioning that works and you’re cruising in comfort.

But wait! Suddenly the air coming out of the vents is lukewarm. Oh no! Now it’s warm!  NOW HOT!! AHHHHH!!

Most of us take our AC for granted until something like that happens. Then it’s scramble time—driving in a hot car, another unexpected expense, time off from work. What a pain.

Let’s look at how this marvel of modern comfort works and what you can do to ensure that yours keeps working.

An automotive air conditioning system is basically a closed loop consisting of a high-pressure side and a low-pressure side.

Let’s look at the high-pressure side first, as that leads from the engine to the passenger compartment (where all the action happens and you’re glad when it’s working).

Compressor: The compressor is a pump that’s powered by a belt attached to the crankshaft. Refrigerant (commonly called freon) is drawn into the compressor in a low-pressure gaseous form.

The pump compresses the gas (hence the name) and forces it out to the condenser, where it condenses into liquid. Now let’s look at the low-pressure side.

Thermal Expansion valve (TXV): The high-pressure liquid flows through the expansion valve, where it expands, reducing the pressure on the refrigerant so it can move into the evaporator.

This is where the system goes from high- to low-pressure. If you touched this part of the system, you’d actually feel it change from hot to cold.

The valve senses pressure and regulates the refrigerant flow, allowing the system to operate smoothly. The valve has moving parts that can wear out, however, and sometimes need to be replaced.

This is why you’ll see ads in the Spring for deals on recharging your AC in time for Summer. Over time, minute quantities of refrigerant can leak out very gradually.

But recharging, or adding refrigerant to the system, is only half the battle; and if it’s really low, it requires that the remaining refrigerant be drained and replaced.

In extreme cases, your system can develop a leak—major, minor, or in between—requiring repair or replacement of parts.

Which is why it pays to be proactive and have your air conditioning checked in the Spring for refrigerant level and soundness of the parts. Even now, in the thick of Summer, it’s not too late to have this vital performance check under your belt.

Better late than never—before it’s too late.

Check with Your Tech—at Quality Automotive.

St. Louis’ Choice for the Automotive Voice!