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4 Signs Your Car’s AC Needs a Repair

It’s getting warmer and warmer out there. According to information from the Environmental Protection Agency, average temperatures in the U.S. have been rising, with eight of the 10 warmest years on record occurring since 1998.

So, summer weather is getting more brutal. If you want to comfortably endure the heat when behind the wheel, you’ll need to make sure your car has a properly functioning air conditioning system.

Typically, a car’s air conditioning doesn’t die without warning. It provides signs that let you know repair is needed. Heeding these signs can help you get ahead of problems before the system fails completely. Acting quickly to correct issues will prevent you from driving your car in hot weather without air conditioning.

Below are four signs your car’s air conditioning needs to be repaired.

1. There is a diminishment in the level of cooling provided

If you regularly use your car’s air conditioning, you know what to expect from each setting. If your car doesn’t provide the level of cooling it usually does, it could indicate a problem with the air conditioning system.

In some cases, the difference in cooling may be slight. For example, you may suspect airflow isn’t quite as powerful as usual. In other cases, the change may be more dramatic. You may notice the air being pushed from the vents is very faint, or the air conditioning may be sending warm air or no air to the cabin.

Several factors can cause diminished airflow. If mold or mildew has built up in the air conditioning system’s evaporator, it can prevent air from reaching the vents. In some cases, a cooling problem can be caused by a loose hose. Cooling issues also can be triggered by a fried ventilation fan.

2. The air conditioner makes unusual noises while running

Automotive air conditioning systems usually provide performance that’s fairly quiet. If you notice unusual noises while the system is running, it could indicate there’s something amiss.

Your car’s air conditioning system relies heavily on a part known as the compressor. This component pressurizes the system and ensures proper refrigerant flow.

The compressor utilizes a pulley bearing. If this bearing is worn out, your air conditioning will make a squealing or grinding sound. This problem often can be fixed by replacing the bearing.

Your car’s compressor also uses a clutch, and this component suffers lots of wear and tear over time. If your compressor’s clutch is worn out, you’ll hear a rattling sound. In cases like this, it may be possible to solve the problem by installing a new clutch. But sometimes the entire compressor will need to be replaced.

3. Odor emanates from the air conditioning vents

Certain issues can cause your car’s air conditioning to pump rancid air into the cabin. This can leave your car smelling like a high school’s gym locker after a football game.

An aged or filthy cabin filter can trigger this problem. Funky odors also can be caused by mold that has accumulated on the air conditioning system’s evaporator case.

4. Water pools within the cabin after running your car’s air conditioning

Air conditioning systems are designed to drain water from the bottom of the car. Sometimes the drains that facilitate this process become blocked. In cases like this, water can back up and gather within the vehicle.

An air conditioning system with a blocked drain can cause water to pool under your car’s front floor mats or beneath the dash. Water stains or pooled water in these areas may indicate your vehicle’s air conditioning needs professional attention.

If you have questions about this story, please contact us at Editors@carfax.com