You probably take your car’s heating and air conditioning systems for granted until that cold winter day when your hands freeze on the steering wheel, or on a long sweltering ride in the summer. Like your vehicle’s other systems, your vehicle’s heating and cooling system needs regular inspection and maintenance. Your specialists in car heating and A/C system repairs at Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centres’ many locations in Vancouver, as well as across BC and Alberta, are well-trained and experienced in dealing with the climate control and air quality systems of all domestic and foreign makes and models.
Heating System Service
Your car’s heating system circulates the heat generated by the engine. Hot engine coolant fluid passes through a second, smaller radiator (sometimes referred to as a heater core); a fan blows cold air from outside over the radiator, warming the air and then sending it through the vents in the passenger cabin. The heater core is subject to the same build-up of rust and other debris that can clog your radiator, and should be cleaned so air and coolant can move freely through the system. If you smell coolant fluid in the hot air coming through the vents or if you find steam fogging your windows, bring your vehicle in to check for leaks and corrosion.
Air Conditioner Maintenance
Your car’s A/C needs to be recharged just as your home’s air conditioner does, to make sure it cools your vehicle efficiently. If you find that the system needs to be recharged more often than usual, make sure to mention it to your Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centre mechanic. Leaks in the air conditioning system can be hard to spot without professional diagnostic equipment.
Vehicle A/C systems are very difficult, not to mention risky, to repair without specific tools and a comprehensive knowledge base. So, unless you’re a qualified auto technician or mechanic, we recommend you take your car to one of our Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centre locations to have it repaired professionally, and with a guarantee attached. In terms of the source of your problem, there are many possibilities. However, the most common are the following:
- Refrigerant Leak: Unlike oil or antifreeze leaks, which make visible puddles around your car, a refrigerant leak is much trickier to spot. It evaporates instantly once it is out of your closed-loop A/C system. Since refrigerant is sealed in the A/C system and doesn’t require refilling, a noticeably low level of refrigerant is a tell-tale sign of a leak – which can happen in the A/C compressor, condenser, the evaporator, or various system fittings.
- Worn Out Compressor: Your compressor’s job is to push refrigerant throughout the vehicle’s cabin in order to uniformly remove heat. Compressors wear out over time, and so does their ability to perform their role effectively.
- Electrical System Problems: Auto A/C systems are incredibly sophisticated systems comprised of wires, fuses, relays, and pressure systems. If one of these components malfunctions or wears with age, an A/C system is designed to shut itself down for safety reasons. Due to how complicated these systems can be, we recommend having them verified by professionals with experience and equipped with the right tools.
Serious and persistent condensation on your windows is a common sign of a problem with your heater core. The heater core is simply a heat exchanger that resides in the cabin of the vehicle. Warm engine coolant flows through tubing channels within the heater core, while cold air is circulated in and around the outside surface of the heater core. Heat is exchanged between the coolant and the air. When a heater core starts leaking, the coolant escapes from the heater core, into the cabin compartment. It evaporates into steam as it hits the cooler air in your cabin, fogging up your windows.
Driving a car, in the middle of winter, with no heat is not only uncomfortable, but dangerous. The discomfort is obvious as you’re driving in what amounts to an ice box. The danger comes in the form of the heater’s inability to blow warm air onto your windshield to eliminate ice or fog build-up while driving, creating the potential for a serious auto accident. Worse, should you become stranded, having no heater to keep you warm becomes life-threatening. This is why it is absolutely crucial to bring your car into the nearest Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centre location at the very first sign of a malfunctioning heater.
As for what could be causing your heater to malfunction, there is a wide range of reasons. The most common are:
- Low antifreeze levels in the radiator due to a leak.
- A faulty thermostat preventing the vehicle’s engine from properly warming up.
- A malfunctioning blower fan not pushing the warm air into the cabin.
- Contaminated coolant. Coolant that becomes contaminated by particles, such as rust, can block the heater core from efficiently circulating coolant for heat exchange.