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Car Air Conditioning - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Environmentally friendly Air Conditioning Gas - what is that?
  2. Why should you get your Air Conditioning Serviced Regularly?
  3. But why is it that my Refrigerator never needs service?
  4. What is the difference between air conditioning and climate control?
  5. Why disinfect?
  6. Retrofitting, what is that?
  7. What do I need an air conditioning diagnostic service for?
  8. Can my air conditioning gas catch on fire & blow up?


Why should you get your Air Conditioning Serviced Regularly?

The Answer to this question is a little involved but we will try to explain.

Firstly, the Automotive air conditioner system is spread out over a large part of the car, you have your condenser right up front and the evaporator inside the cabin, and all the other working components along the way all connected by rubber hoses and sealed with rubber o-rings. And the environment is harsh; it has to deal with engine vibrations, extreme temperature changes, corrosion from the elements just to name a few. The simple fact is that there is there is no such thing as a perfect moving seal and the compressor seal has the hardest job of all. The compressor is driven off the engine and the seal around the shaft to the body of the compressor is the only thing that keeps the gas from escaping. This seal needs lubrication and the source of the lubrication is the oil within the system and this oil is delivered to the seal by the gas. Keeping this simple fact in mind it stands to reason that after a number of years of driving, the system would have used a proportion of the gas supplying the lubricant to the seal, the less gas and lubricant in the system the less lubrication of vital components and a chance of premature failure of these components. In our experience, we have noted up to 10% of the charge in a system is used in this way per year, and a further 10% of what is left every year after that and so on.

But why is it that my Refrigerator never needs service?

The reason for this is that a refrigerator compressor has no exposed seals or o-rings, the compressor is sealed within a steel container with the full charge of gas and oil held within this steel container, after charging, the pipes are crimped and soldered and all other joints are also soldered together. This makes for a completely air tight seal on the system. The second thing to be aware of is the difference in the system power. If you turn your refrigerator on you don’t expect it to be cold for a few hours, the automotive system is expected to have cold air coming out of the vents before you drive to the corner of your street. The automotive system is working much harder and therefore needs more maintenance.

What is the difference between air conditioning and climate control?

Air Conditioning is essentially a cooler, it cools the air down to a preset temperature, Climate control on the other hand is a system that utilises your heater in conjunction with the cooler to give you a steady even temperature that can be set to you comfort. These systems usually control fan speed and vent direction according to temperature set and sun light conditions. But for a little titbit of information, if you don’t have climate control you can control the temperature of your air conditioning system manually, by introducing a little warm air from your heater. This is also a great way of defogging your car in winter, because the air conditioner will dehumidify the air.

Why disinfect?

Well is your air conditioner making you sick? does it smell funny when you turn it on?. During the operation of your Air Conditioner water condenses on the evaporator inside your dash board and is expelled out under the car. This can be seen as clear water dripping under the car when the system is being used, this nice moist dark environment is great for growing mould and other spoors. This is usually the cause of bad odours when the system is switched on, and if you are travelling with a passenger who has a cold you could find the germs that are that cold incubating in this moist environment. Having the system disinfected regularly helps kill off these nasties and reinfecting the passengers later on.

Retrofitting, what is that?

Back in the mid nineties the Ozone protection plan was brought into existence and causing Ozone depleting gases to become a controlled gas, R12 Refrigerant is one of those gases and was phased out and all production and importation of the Gas was stopped. The new Ozone Friendly Gas R134a was to replace the R12 but had slightly different characteristics, for one it was not compatible with the lubricant used on the R12 systems. So the system has to be modified to work on the new Gas, filters, fittings, expansion valve in some cases and of course the oil. The new gas also operates at approximately 10% higher working pressure which on an older system can cause some issues.

What do I need an air conditioning diagnostic service for?

When you have a problem with your Air Conditioning this service is designed to find the fault, is the fault due to low gas levels, electrical fault, faulty components or a blockage somewhere, as any one of these faults could be the cause of your trouble it is necessary to test and accurately diagnose the fault. Look at it like going to the doctor and having a blood test and physical to find out what is wrong.