Broken Car Air Conditioner? Try Automotive Air Conditioning Repair at Home

It’s almost cruel to even think of a driving your car without an air conditioner in the scorching summer. With the wear and tear that your car goes through every day, it is common to see problems in the air conditioner. While most of us end up spending dollars on fixing it, there is something simpler you can do. You can fix it with some basic automotive air conditioning repair at home, saving yourself the expense of going to a car mechanic. The hack is simple to carry out, whether you own a hatchback or a sedan. Yes, here is what you can do when your car air conditioner is broken.

Steps for Automotive Air Conditioning Repair

We always begin the process with identification. Just like you will need to check the signs before replacing your oil pump, you need to analyze the A/C system as well. Let’s understand the process in steps.

Automotive air conditioning repair expert
Automotive air conditioning services (photo source: Pop’s Auto Electric & AC)

Checking for the Air Flow

As you start the car and turn the air conditioner to the highest notch, determine how warm the air is. It could even be cool but not as cold as it should be. In this case, the problem may lie in air flow. It can be normalized by replacing the cabin air filter of your car.

Checking for Electrical Issues

Check to see if the cooling fans are working fine. If not, it may be an electrical issue. Also, check the A/C compressor. This is done in order to determine what repairs it needs. Check in the engine bay and observe if the middle of the pulley is turning along with the rest of the pulley. That happens when a clutch is engaged. If there middle doesn’t turn, the A/c compressor could be broken. You can solve this problem itself either through replacement or by filling the refrigerant.

Probing for Other Issues

Most compressors are connected to the clutch with a wire. Find the connector (likely in the middle) and unplug. Check it for current with your battery. If there is no current, it will need to be replaced. That will need some specialized service.

If that is working fine, go and check for leaks. You can do it easily with leak detection kits. The process is easy and is explained on the kit packaging. If you detect leaks, take one of this important maintenance tips that your car will need professional car air conditioning repair.

In case of no leaks, it’s a refrigerant issue we are looking at.


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Preparing for the Refrigerant

You will need to buy the right refrigerant for your car. All cars built after 1995 use R134a. The older ones use 12. If your car belongs to the latter, you need to take your car to a professional.

The most important thing about automotive air conditioning is temperature. You need to check the ambient temperature with a thermometer. Why? Because the refrigerant occupies different amounts of space within the can and within the air conditioning system under different temperatures.

If your Car AC blows hot air, see this video to know what you should do!

Handling the Port

Now locate the low-side service port of the air conditioning system. Simply follow the lines issuing from the compressor to end up at a nozzle situated at the bottom of the car. Take the cap off, clean the port, the line as well as the cap with a piece of rag. Wipe with brake cleaner if necessary. Now attach a charging hose to the port with the other end of the hose connected to the refrigerant can nozzle. If the kit has gauge, first connect it to the gauge, then to the nozzle. Keep it long enough so that the can stays outside the engine bay. Keep observing the ambient pressure all through.

Filling the Refrigerant

Turn the valve on the can till it opens the seal. The refrigerant will be released as soon as the seal breaks. Keep holding the can upright as the refrigerant passes through. Keep a check on the ambient pressure as the gauge indicates it. Keep filling till the pressure on the gauge is full. If there are any leaks on the line, you will be able to spot them easily. If that is the case, you will need to take your car to the mechanic. If not, simply close the cap when the refrigerant is filled. You’re car A/C is back with perfect cooling.

Ready for some basic car air condition repair?