Sometimes air conditioning auto repairs are not as complicated as they may first seem. Let me give you a quick example of what I’m talking about.
A customer recently visited me for a car air conditioning repair. He informed me that the air conditioning stopped working towards the end of the warm weather in 2008.
He thought for sure that this would be an expensive problem and decided to hold off on the diagnosis and repair of the air conditioning system until the warm weather returned. This is probably what most automobile owners would do in this situation.
Automotive air conditioning diagnosis
My first step in any auto repair troubleshooting is to perform a visual inspection. But I let myself down and did not perform this step. In my mind I thought that the Freon had leaked out, and that’s why the compressor was not coming on. This is the most common situation when it comes to automotive air conditioning not blowing cold air.
I connected my manifold Gauges to the air-conditioning system. I found that not only were the pressures the same on both sides as they should be with the compressor off, but the vehicle currently had a full charge of Freon. My customer was buzzing around me trying to figure out why I had a surprised look on my face.
I said to him, I have good news and bad news. The good news is your air-conditioning system is filled with Freon and ready to blow cold air. The bad news is the compressor is not coming on and it is apparently an electrical problem.
My customer said oh my god, not an electrical problem. I said calm down and let me start poking at it and see what I find. I checked the air-conditioning fuse and it was good. So I returned to my normal diagnostic procedure. I performed a visual inspection of the electrical wiring and connectors to the cars a/c system.
Air conditioning auto repairs
I had the key on engine off and decided to check for power at the A/C compressor. When I grabbed the electrical connector, which was a two wire simple power and ground connection, the compressor clicked on and engaged. So the problem turned out to be a poor connection to the air-conditioning compressor. No actual parts and a very small amount of labor repaired the A/C system.
But that is not the end of the story. The reason for the poor connection was that the connector was actually damaged. The plastic housing that holds the terminals had a crack in it and allowed the terminals to back out. I question my customer about how strange this was that there was damage to this connector.
My customer said, oh I forgot to tell you. Last year my belt broke and I had it replaced while I was out of town at a local gas station. So actually what happened was when the belt let loose it damaged the air-conditioning compressor electrical connector.
But yet another lesson to be learned about air-conditioning auto repairs. It is not always a good idea to put off diagnosing and repairing this system even if you will not be using it for months. My customer knew that his air was not working and suffered with his dark secret all winter long.
He actually told me that he was dreading that summer was approaching, because he knew the A/C repair would be necessary. So why spend five or six months worrying about something that may be repaired very easily. Also if the situation was different and there was a major A/C leak and the system was left empty for that long, further damage may have occurred and increased his auto repair costs.
This story is one reason that I decided to post a DIY auto air-conditioning repairs section to my new car repair website. You will find many pages that will not only explain the theory of operation, but also discusses common automotive air conditioning problems.