The Anatomy of Healthy Cars: A Service and Repair Blog

Warning Signs That Your Car's Air Conditioning Needs Recharging

by Brittany Marshall

Why does it always seem as if a car's air conditioner breaks down on the hottest day of the year? It might be because the system may have been giving you warning signs of needed repairs before it actually gave out completely, but you overlooked or ignored those signs. To ensure that your car's air conditioner is always working as it should, note a few signs that it needs some attention before it breaks altogether.

Mouldy smell

You should never smell mould or mildew coming from the dashboard vents when you turn on the air conditioner; this often means that the air conditioner is leaking and that sitting water is holding mould or mildew, which you are now breathing! There could also be mould around the unit itself, and this can cause wear and tear on the fan and blower, which might then eventually stop working altogether. Have the entire system cleaned and regassed every two years and be sure you run the air conditioner for a few minutes every few weeks, even during wintertime, to avoid having this mould growth.

Water inside the car

After running your air conditioner, you may notice a drip of condensation under the car; this is normal and to be expected. However, if the drain of the air conditioner should get clogged, this can cause water to back up into the unit and then get deposited inside the car itself. If your floor mats or any area under the dashboard is wet without any other explanation, have your air conditioner checked for plugged areas.

Weak airflow

A weak airflow can mean that the fan of the dashboard is breaking down and not pushing air through the vents as it should; there may also be an obstruction in the vents, such as leaves and other debris. However, this could also mean that the unit is getting very low on refrigerant. You may expect to not have cold air when refrigerant gets low but note that this liquid is under some pressure; when that pressure level is very low, it won't have the ability to push air through the system.

You might check for drips around your car even when the air conditioner has not been running, as this might be a sign of the refrigerant leaking out. If the refrigerant levels are fine, your car may simply need a new thermostat to read the desired temperature and ensure it switches on the cooling system as needed.

For more information, contact your local car air conditioning service.