The air conditioning system in your car, truck, van, or SUV is critical to your comfort throughout the year. Plus, you rely on your air conditioner to capture humidity to ensure that your windshield doesn’t fog over while you’re on the road. If your AC isn’t blowing as cold as it should, or if the air pressure seems to have dropped, it’s time to head to Thompson Automotive for a diagnosis and repair recommendation.
We provide vehicle AC repairs and replacements for folks throughout the Denver Metro area from our shop here in Englewood — schedule an appointment or stop by the shop today! You can also learn more about maintaining your vehicle’s AC and the signs of a failing AC — plus, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked AC-related questions that we receive — all of which is listed below.
Maintenance to Withstand Hot Summers & Hazardous Winters
Denver and the metro area experience a full range of seasonal weather that must be dealt with using modern means of air conditioning. During the hot, dry summers, your AC compressor and evaporator work overtime to ensure that you’re not sweating and panting during your afternoon commute.
When winter comes, the defrost feature of your heater uses the same components, adding even more wear and tear throughout the year. Plus, as the seasons change, your AC is more likely to spring a leak, since its components are constantly expanding and contracting.
It’s a smart choice to keep an eye on the performance of your vehicle’s AC. You should have your AC serviced every two years to ensure that it has plenty of refrigerant to operate efficiently, and its components are up to snuff. We can add refrigerant, check seals throughout the unit, make sure the evaporator coil isn’t freezing over, and ensure that the electrical components and blower fan motor are in tip-top shape.
Probably the most common symptom of a cooling system malfunction is a climbing thermostat reading. If your engine is ‘running hot’, it is highly recommended that the cooling system be inspected for leaks or other issues.
You may also notice antifreeze leaking below your vehicle, or you may be hearing a hissing sound coming from your radiator. These are indications of leaks, and leaking cooling systems are near guaranteed to fail unless the leaks can be corrected fairly quickly. Another factor that may impact how well your cooling system works is the pH balance and level of coolant. A coolant pH that is too basic or too acidic means a flush and refill is in order, and a low coolant level will result in a steadily climbing engine temperature, even when the engine is idling.
To diagnose your cooling system issue, a Thompson Automotive ASE-certified technician will inspect your radiator, thermostat, water pump, antifreeze and all hoses and connections. Once the problem is located, an expert service recommendation will be made. In addition to having professional mechanics on staff, we also perform a high-quality BG Cooling System Flush with every exchange. After all work is performed, the cooling system will be topped off with antifreeze before being pressure tested for optimal functionality.
Signs of a Failing AC
Over time, constant use of precision air conditioning equipment will eventually result in the deterioration of seals and o-rings, cracking and splitting of hoses, and loosening of fittings. Once these parts reach a critical point of failure, you’ll start experiencing some of the typical signs of air conditioning system breakdown, including any of the following:
Engine noise when AC is activated: If your engine is making noise while the AC activates, then you could have an issue with the AC unit, the engine, or your idle speed may just be increased (most recent-model cars have a higher idle speed to accommodate for the power necessary to run the AC). If your engine is running rough while your AC is on, then you may have an issue — we’ll take a look under the hood to ensure that your AC unit and engine are working efficiently together.
Air not blowing cold: If you aren’t getting cold air through the vents of your vehicle, then it’s obvious that the AC unit isn’t doing its job. You could have a blower fan that isn’t working (which means that cold air will just rest against the evaporator coil unless the car is moving). You may also have low refrigerant in the line, which means that your evaporator coil won’t be able to cool the air that moves through it. Again, bring your vehicle into the shop — we’ll assess the situation at hand.
AC not pulling moisture from the air: Your AC unit should automatically pull moisture from the air that it pumps into the cab of your vehicle, even if you have the heat on as well as the defog. During normal operation, the evaporator coil of your AC unit cools the air, and cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, creating a dehumidifying effect. If you have low refrigerant or another issue that is causing the AC to malfunction, then you’ll lose the ability to dehumidify the air that is pumped through your vehicle.
Reduced air pressure: If air isn’t flowing in through the vents, it’s an indication that your fan isn’t working, or that you have an obstruction along your ventilation lines. These issues are usually quick and inexpensive to fix.
Unresponsive AC (total failure): Your AC unit may completely fail if you have a bad compressor or condenser, if you have a leak in the refrigerant line, or if you have an electrical problem which keeps your AC from triggering. Bring your vehicle into the shop — we can diagnose the problem and pinpoint the issue at hand.
Outdated refrigerant: Did you know that the EPA has deemed R-12 refrigerant hazardous? If you’re replacing the refrigerant of your AC, and you have old refrigerant in the lines, we may have to perform a retrofit to install a new compressor, new hoses, or new seals. Nowadays, only R-134 refrigerant is legally acceptable in vehicle AC lines, and your car may need an update so that you can get back out on the road.
Low refrigerant: Refrigerant is liable to leak out of your AC over time. And a bad leak will require a repair. If you need to have the refrigerant of your lines topped off, or you need to repair those lines to ensure that refrigerant doesn’t leak, we can help. We have specialized equipment to help assess where a refrigerant leak is occuring, to make repairs quicker.
The good news is that most air conditioning problems can be identified and corrected fairly quickly, especially with one of our ASE-certified mechanics looking under the hood. If you have an issue with your AC unit, feel free to drop your vehicle by our shop for a diagnostic and repairs— schedule an appointment today!
Frequently Asked Vehicle AC Questions
The AC in your vehicle works nearly the same as the one in your house. There are a few key components to an AC: the compressor and condenser (which are side by side), the evaporator, and the blower fan. When you turn your AC on, power is drawn from your engine to operate the compressor and condenser. These components transform the refrigerant in your AC line into a liquid as it circulates through the system. From there, the refrigerant travels to the evaporator, where it transforms into a gas. The act of evaporating saps heat from the air in the cooling core, and this cooled air will be forced into your vehicle with the blower fan.
It depends on the problem at hand. While some simple issues require simple fixes (like a leaky refrigerant line or a broken blower fan), you’ll likely need to replace your unit if your compressor or condenser fail. These components are difficult to repair (if they’re repairable at all), and repairs can be as costly as installing a new unit. We’ll assess the condition of your vehicle’s AC and let you know the best option for your situation.
Yes. As we mentioned, your AC unit cools the air in its core as refrigerant runs through the evaporator. In addition, this cooled air cannot hold as much water — water is shed in the form of condensation (which is why your AC will drip in the summer). Once that air is cooled, it can be fed through the heater of your vehicle, providing heated, dry air to the cab when you need to defog the interior of your car during the winter.
Unfortunately, yes. Your AC will pull power from your engine as it clicks on, which could result in poorer performance as you press the pedal to the metal. However, if you have a newer car model, your vehicle may have a component which enables full power to the engine if you’re pressing the accelerator hard enough. That said, the rest of the time you’re on the road, you may notice a reduction in the performance of your vehicle, and you may notice that your car idles at a higher speed, which keeps the AC running.
It depends. Your vehicle’s AC may pull more or less power depending on the make and model of your vehicle. In addition, that power loss will be more or less noticeable depending on the size of your engine. If, for example, you have a V8, you may not even notice a change in performance with the AC on. However, if you have a four-cylinder, the power loss may keep you from reaching 75 on the highway for an extra few thousand feet.
If your engine is shuttering or if it completely stalls as your AC turns on, then you may have a poor idle speed, you may have an engine problem, and you may have another power issue that creates too much demand for the engine. We can assess the problem at hand.
Don’t Wait! Contact Thompson Automotive Today
Save time and money by contacting us today to schedule your air conditioning system diagnostic evaluation. We are conveniently located in Englewood, Colorado, and we proudly serve the entire Englewood, Littleton, and Denver area. We specialize in working on imports here at our auto shop, including Acura, Honda, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Toyota models. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment for AC repairs, maintenance, or replacement!