Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tire Stores Help with Car Air Conditioning Check-Ups

Your local tire stores can help with more than just getting you a new set of tires. They have experts at recharging car air conditioning systems and can gauge check the system, recycle used Freon, check belts and evacuate the A/C system. Regular air conditioning check-ups won’t just keep you comfortable; they could head off major repair bills.

Car Air Conditioning - Quite Possibly the Best Invention Ever

Air Conditioning is often cited as one of man’s ten best inventions – instant comfort in hot weather at the touch of a button. When coupled with another of his ten best inventions, the automobile, you have one of the world’s all-time winning combinations. But, when you neglect having your vehicle’s air conditioning checked on a regular basis you have a recipe for a really bad combination -- discomfort and big repair bills. It is recommended to check your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance schedule, or have your air conditioning checked at least every other year, so at the slightly sign of discomfort.

Regular check-ups by your local tire stores will include a test for leaks or faulty seals that allow refrigerant to escape from the system. Running the A/C without enough refrigerants can damage or burn out the compressor, which will cost you a lot. Refrigerant contains a light mineral oil that ingeniously lubricates the moving parts of the system while it is running. Not enough refrigerant, not enough lubrication. Some air conditioning systems, most notably on high-end vehicles, will actually sense this condition and stop the compressor from working when there is not enough refrigerant in the system. While this type of system will save you the cost of a burnt-out compressor, if you don’t have your A/C system checked on a regular basis, you’re not going to find this out until some hot day when you need cool air the most.

One simple thing you can do, in addition to visiting one of your local trusted tire stores, is to help minimize automotive A/C problems by running the unit periodically, even in winter. The rule of thumb is 10 minutes every month. This will distribute lubricant to the seals keeping them from becoming brittle and leaking, as well as coating interior metal parts to keep them from corroding.

Usually A/C problems manifest themselves in one of two ways:

Not Enough Cool Air which can be caused by:
  • Low refrigerant charge
  • Loose belt
  • Slipping compressor clutch
  • Clogged evaporator
  • Clogged condenser
No Cool Air which can be caused by:
  • Broken drive belt
  • Blown fuse
  • Inoperative compressor or slipping compressor clutch
  • Clogged or defective expansion valve
  • Clogged receiver-drier or refrigerant line
  • Leaking hoses, seals, valves or compressor
Ask A Pro

Most Automotive A/C repairs require the help of a trained professional. Not the least of which is the recharging of the refrigerant, which requires special equipment and handling. The high-pressure chemicals can be dangerous, easily injuring or blinding those not versed in the proper handling of them.

Having your A/C system checked at one of your local tire stores should not be chore in and of itself. While having your car serviced for other items such as oil changes or tire rotations, have your ASE certified technician check the A/C system, too. Most people tend to have their tires rotated or have new tires installed at the change of the seasons anyway -- so why not have your A/C system checked out in the same visit?

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