The true test of the quality of an automobile shouldn’t be how fast or smooth it drives, how safe it is, or how sleek it looks. It should be whether the air conditioning works when weather first gets warm when you want it to.
Many people have that problem: they start up the auto AC and it runs cold for a week. Then the following week it blows nothing but warm air. Three weeks later, its back to cold.
What is going on? As it turns out “intermittent” air conditioning problems can be one of the toughest items to diagnose. Yet the problems that can cause an auto AC to perform in such a way tend to be the same problems.
The first thing to check is the levels of Freon in the system. When Freon starts to get low, the A/C can start intermittently blowing out cool air—particularly when it reaches a certain speed—and blowing hot air at other times. With most A/C problems, low Freon levels tend to be the primary problem the vehicle is having. Simply replace and see if that fixes the problem.
If that’s not what is causing it, check the engine’s condenser. The condenser, while looking like a radiator, acts as a cooler on the ambient temperature that blows through the car. It then feeds that cool air into the engine. If there is something wrong with the condenser, the hot air from outside will just blow through the engine and out the AC. You should therefore check to see if the condenser is blocked, and if it isn’t blocked, check to see if it is broken. More often than not, it is blocked since the part is so close to the front of the engine, allowing leaves, grass, and other debris to build up, preventing it from doing its job.
Finally, if after an inspection you see that the Freon levels are fine and the condenser doesn’t look broken or blocked, you should check the cooling fans. These fans are responsible to maintain air flow over the condenser when the car isn’t moving that fast, say at a red light or driving under a certain speed limit. Over time numerous things can go wrong with the fan, from it wearing out over time to electrical problems.
While you may want try to fix these problems on your own—and don’t worry, you absolutely can with the right knowledge and patience—you may want to take the vehicle in for a technician to do so. This may save you a headache and possible further problems in the future!