When it’s hot outside, you don’t want to drive around with a failing or broken A/C — now’s the time to deal with it. Here’s an easy guide to understanding what’s going on with your Chevy’s A/C so you can fix it and stop suffering this summer.
What Makes Up An Automotive A/C
In order to troubleshoot the system, it’s important to understand what makes up your Chevy’s A/C. In basic terms, it’s a refrigerator with a weird layout. Here are the components of the system:
Compressor - The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant that circulates through the system and allows it to release heat in the condenser. This is an essential component but also a part most likely to fail.
Condenser - The condenser allows refrigerant to turn from a gas to a liquid, releasing heat in the process. The heat is released to the surrounding air outside of the vehicle.
Refrigerant - This substance is also known as R-134A and is designed to carry heat away from your climate control system.
Expansion Valve/Orifice Tube - This is a nozzle that causes refrigerant pressure to drop and causes the refrigerant to atomize — it also controls flow of the refrigerant.
Receiver/Dryer - This acts as a filter for refrigerant and removes the moisture and containment from it as it circulates.
Evaporator - The evaporator absorbs the heat from the air in your Chevy so it can cool. Once the refrigerant leaves the evaporator, it goes back through the expansion valve and then into the compressor. This completes the cycle.
Additionally, you’ll have A/C lines, wiring, sensors, and fuses in the mix — it’s a pretty involved system where many things can go wrong.
The Process of Diagnosing
Identifying the problem lurking in your A/C is more or less a matter of process of elimination.
Here are the steps to pin-pointing the issues:
- First, start by doing a visual check for damage to switches, broken/bad fuses, frayed wires, a broken fan belt, or damage to the major parts mentioned above.
- Proceed by checking for refrigerant leaks, which are easy to spot. Get a dye kit to add to the system -- the kit will come with detailed instructions. Use it to find leaks.
- If the blower comes on, the clutch might not be engaging. Crank the car, turn the air conditioner on, and check under the hood. Find the compressor and check if the outer pulley and inner hub are turning to show that the clutch is actually engaged. If not, this is the result of a bad fuse, wiring problems, a broken A/C switch, or even low refrigerant.
- Check the level of coolant as well. If the system is cooling, but not enough, it might have low pressure and needs to be topped off with refrigerant — easy fix.
- Leaks in the system can allow moisture in as well, and can lead to very poor performance.
- Too much refrigerant in your Chevy will actually interrupt the performance until the level is adequate -- avoid overfilling!
- Only use approved coolant in your system.
- Excessive heat from your engine may also cause the system to struggle to cool — insulation/heat wrap can greatly help the process.
If the problem with your A/C system isn't clear, then it might be time to take your vehicle to your local Chevy dealer for help. Just remember, we have OEM Chevy A/C parts at wholesale prices, and we deliver!