Car Air Conditioning Repair: Troubleshooting

What is “Black Death?”

If you’re about to go to bed and want to avoid nightmares, you might want to put off reading this until morning. If you’re about to get in the car, please read on.

Car air conditioning systemWhile Black Death is not the same as the deadly plague during the 14th century, a car A/C system experiencing Black Death will be infected like the plague. Black Death starts out inside the compressor after refrigerant breaks down. Since refrigerant acts as a working fluid much like how motor oil is the fluid which provides lubrication to protect the engine, a refrigerant breakdown will result in ugly wear, starting in the compressor. From there, the sharp and grimy metal particles created during compressor breakdown can then travel through the rest of your A/C system, wreaking havoc on the entire system. Before you know it, all cold air, and airflow for that matter, will be long gone. Cue the A/C grim reaper.

The best protection from Black Death is an A/C Performance Check. Schedule one today.

maintenance-mobile maintenance - desktop

Why does my A/C have weak airflow?

We feel your pain and discomfort caused by weak airflow. The sweat alone is enough to drive any of us crazy. However, there are a lot of factors at play. If you notice reduced airflow early on—rather than later—take the right step and have it looked at before other fatal A/C system damage can occur.

Main causes of weak airflow:

  • Mold or mildew may have accumulated in the evaporator core from residual moisture that occurs during the cooling process. When this happens, air will have trouble reaching your air vents.
  • A hose has come loose. This usually happens with the blower hose that supplies air to the blower unit.
  • Ventilation fan is fried. If the fan’s not blowing, air won’t be flowing very well.
  • Seals. No, not those seals down by the pier. Core case seals, blower house seals or evaporator core case seals; All can open up and diminish air flow. A/C ventilation systems are very sensitive and must remain sealed. Once they’re opened, the whole system is compromised.

Whatever’s the cause of your airflow problems, we have the answer. Schedule an A/C Performance Check.

Are there any system warning lights to alert me to an A/C problem?

Typically, no, but some vehicles have Driver Information Centers (DIC) that may display the status of many vehicle systems. Refer to your Owner’s Manual for more information.

My A/C isn’t as cold as it used to be, what’s going on?

There are several reasons an A/C system can lose its cool. Bring your ride to us as soon as you start noticing this symptom, it could mean the difference between needing a small repair, or worse, a large one. Here’s what can cause your cold air to lose its cool.

The lack of precious cold air could be caused by:

  • A Freon leak caused by a failed o-ring, seal, hose or component
  • A clogged expansion tube or refrigerant charging hose
  • Failed compressor or compressor clutch
  • Failed blower motor or blower motor resistor
  • Damaged or failed condenser or evaporator
  • Vacuum leaks
  • Failed switch, fuse, relay, control module, blend door or solenoid

Leaks can be devastating. When an A/C system develops a leak, you have what’s called an “open system.” If you or your technician discovers the leak early, your repair will be less expensive. Unfortunately, if a leak has been affecting your cold air for a while, moisture will most likely have entered your A/C system and may have damaged other vital and expensive parts. Stay cool. Schedule an A/C Performance Check.

The A/C starts out cool then starts getting warm, what’s happening?

Well, like many complicated stories, there’s never one simple answer. A/C systems are a fickle breed. Your best bet is to have us inspect your system for any of the following listed symptoms.

From cold to hot and all the symptoms in between:

  • The clogged expansion valve: The expansion valve distributes the proper amount of refrigerant to your evaporator. If the valve is blocked, the refrigerant can’t flow into the evaporator. With the valve clogged, the refrigerant will start to freeze the valve altogether if moisture is present.
  • Faulty compressor clutch: If the clutch is not engaging with your compressor, than your compressor can’t maintain the correct pressure. Hot air will result.
  • The blown fuse scenario: Fuses sometimes short out. If the fuse associated with your A/C system goes, the power to certain parts will stop.
  • Leaks are an A/C system’s worst friend: Leaks are the result of damage or the presence of moisture. When moisture and refrigerant mix, nasty corrosive acids will eat away at seals and components, causing a leak.

What is the smelly, gym locker odor coming from my A/C vents?

Sounds like you have an odorific problem on your hands. There are a few issues that may be causing this smell.

Potential causes of nasty “gym locker” odors:

  • Dirty and old air cabin filter.
  • Moldy evaporator case. A problem for many vehicles when water sits in the evaporator case because the case’s drain is blocked. Mold will accumulate.

How do you test for an A/C system leak?

While we’re no C.S.I. unit, the ways to detect an A/C system leak are not far off from an episode of the ever popular investigation show.

Detecting leaks:

  • Black light enabled dyes. You read that right. A lot of refrigerants are pre-mixed with a special U.V. dye that shows up under black light. We’ll run a black light over your A/C system to see if any dye shows up.
  • Bring in the “sniffer.” A sniffer is a special device that hones in on the refrigerant’s chemical components. If there’s a leak, our sniffer will sniff it out.

What causes an A/C system leak?

Age and moisture. Plain and simple. Rubber seals and hoses can also lose their elasticity over time and breakdown allowing Freon to escape and moisture to enter your vehicle’s A/C system. Moisture is the kiss of death for your A/C system, mixing with refrigerant and creating a system destroying corrosive acid.

Quick fact: If moisture is present, it could damage your accumulator, receiver or drier. Remember, these devices are responsible for removing moisture from the A/C system and will eventually stop functioning once they are exposed to an open system (leak or crack).


Car A/C Recharge & Evacuation

A/C Evacuation and Recharge

A vehicle without cool air conditioning can be a sweaty and uncomfortable ride. A properly working A/C keeps you and everyone else in the vehicle comfortable and cool all the way to your destination.


Jiffy Lube® visually inspects the air conditioning compressor drive belt, serpentine belt and all accessible components for cracks, leaks and damage. Then the team checks the operation of the air conditioning compressor. If no leaks or damage are found, they evacuate the refrigerant from the system, vacuum test and recharge the air conditioning system using the appropriate refrigerant according to your vehicle manufacturer’s specification.

Jiffy Lube® does not recommend servicing systems with detected leaks or damage. The Jiffy Lube® A/C evacuation and recharge is designed for periodic maintenance rather than A/C repair, but rest assured that Jiffy Lube® can recommend the next steps to be taken to get you’re A/C system up and running.


Your vehicle’s air conditioning system, or A/C, cools and removes moisture from the air inside of your vehicle using three main components: the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator.

The compressor, driven by the vehicle’s drive belt, pumps the refrigerant through the A/C system. Inside this closed system, the refrigerant is exposed to high and low pressure, forcing it to change states between gas and liquid in order to capture and then release heat. While in a gas state, the refrigerant passes through the evaporator, capturing heat. The refrigerant then moves through the A/C lines and into the condenser, where the refrigerant cools as heat is released outside of the passenger compartment, and the refrigerant returns to a liquid.

For the system to work optimally, the system must have the proper amount of refrigerant and be free of contaminants.


Over time, an A/C system begins to lose its charge and become contaminated. If you notice that your vehicle isn’t cooling, visit Jiffy Lube® for A/C evacuation and recharge.

Jiffy Lube® recommends following manufacturer recommendations, where applicable, for maintenance schedules and service intervals.

Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube® location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube® service center for specific services offered.


How Much Does It Cost to Repair My Transmission?

One of the most common maintenance issues is low fluid level caused by a transmission leak. Because transmissions are sealed, a leak indicates a problem. Common causes of leaks include a breach in the pan gasket, an axle seal leak and fluid seepage.

Transmission fluid is typically bright red, dark red or brown as it ages.

If you notice fluid under your car, you should have the transmission checked by a mechanic.

The cost to repair a leak is typically between $150 and $200, depending on the car’s make and model, says Craig Douglas, president of Automotive Service Group in Indianapolis.

“Since a transmission is dependent on fluid to operate, they quickly self-destruct when the fluid runs low,” Douglas says. “So it is imperative to address a leak as soon as it shows up.”

Douglas says a “middle-of-the-road repair” is replacing shift or pressure control solenoids.

Transmission solenoids control the flow of fluid in and around the transmission and operate through a voltage supplied by the transmission computer. Trouble shifting or over-shifting is a sign your vehicle’s solenoids need to be replaced.

A typical replacement cost is $300 to $850, depending on how many solenoids are replaced, Douglas says. But prices can vary greatly depending on the type of vehicle.

“It’s a good idea to do all of the solenoids while we are inside the unit [because they are] the same age and mileage and very labor-intensive to get to,” Douglas says. “You wouldn’t want to do two separate solenoids a month apart from each other. It wouldn’t benefit the customer or the repair shop.

Avner says a minor leak can turn into a major problem if left alone. A low transmission fluid level or various component failures of the transmission can severely damage a transmission, leading to the need for a rebuilt or replacement transmission.

“Ninety percent of failures are caused by items [inside the transmission] that can’t stand the wear and tear of 80,000 or 90,000 miles,” Avner says.

Avner says the average cost of a rebuilt transmission is $2,800 to $3,800, and the average cost of a replacement transmission is $4,000 to $8,000.

Randy Hartman, owner of Herndon Reston Transmission in Herndon, Virginia, says the average cost of a rebuild is about $2,800 with the average cost of a replacement transmission costing $3,300 to $3,800.

Angie’s List members recently reported paying an average price of $2,601 for a transmission rebuild or replacement.

Douglas recommends a used or remanufactured transmission over a rebuilt one. He says remanufactured transmissions often come with warranties from the manufacturer and the repair will go much quicker.

Here’s a list of what highly rated providers on Angie’s List say they charge for various transmission-related repairs and maintenance.

Automotive Services Group


Average transmission leak repair: $150 to $200

Solenoid replacement: $300 to $850, depending on how many solenoids are replaced.

Average transmission rebuild/replacement: $1,500 to $8,000

A Team Transmissions

Columbus, Ohio

Average transmission leak repair: $200 or less

Average transmission flush: $100

Average transmission rebuild: $2,800 to $3,800

Average transmission replacement: $4,000 to $8,000

Herndon Reston Transmission

Herndon, Virginia

Average transmission flush: $199

Solenoid replacement: $23 up to $2,000, depending on the car’s make and how many solenoids are replaced.

Average transmission rebuild: $2,800

Average transmission replacement: $3,300 to $3,800

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a story that originally posted Aug. 28, 2014.

Have you had to repair or replace your transmission? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!


Virginia Smog Check and Car Inspection Exemptions & Requirements

SUMMARY: Virginia Safety and Emissions Programs

Vehicles in Virginia must undergo an annual safety inspection, and eligible vehicles in qualifying areas require emissions testing before vehicle registration and every 2 years after that. In some cases, an emissions test extension is granted. New residents are subject to the same requirements, unless your vehicle has undergone an emissions inspection in a qualified state within the last 12 months.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) works with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Department of State Police to govern both safety inspections and emissions testing in the state. Read on for more information about these programs, including which vehicles must be tested and how often, where to go for vehicle testing, and what to do if your vehicle fails either inspection.

New Virginia Residents

If you’ve recently moved to Virginia, your vehicle must undergo a/an:

  • Safety inspection: Must be conducted immediately; you can be ticketed for not having a valid inspection sticker on your windshield, regardless of how long you’ve been in the state.
  • Emissions check*: Must be conducted on eligible vehicles before registration (you have within 30 days of moving to the state to register your vehicle).

* Your vehicle doesn’t have to undergo an emissions inspection for vehicle registration if it was inspected in a qualifying state within the last 12 months. Refer to Virginia’s new resident guide to see if your former state qualifies.

Refer to Completing a Vehicle Inspection below for information on how to have your vehicle inspected for safety and emissions.

Vehicle Inspection Requirements in Virginia

Safety Inspections

All vehicles in Virginia except those listed under “Inspection Exemptions” below must undergo annual safety inspections.

Emissions Inspections

When registered in one of the qualifying counties/cities listed below, the following vehicles must undergo emissions inspections prior to registration and every 2 years after that:

  • Gasoline-powered passenger- or property-carrying vehicles:
    • Must be fewer than 25 model years old on January 1st of the current year.
    • Must weigh fewer than 10,000 lbs.
  • Diesel-powered passenger- or property-carrying vehicles:
    • Must be model year 1997 or newer.
    • Must weigh 8,500 lbs. or fewer.

Qualifying areas include:

  • Counties:
    • Arlington.
    • Fairfax.
    • Loudoun.
    • Prince William.
    • Stafford.
  • Cities:
    • Alexandria.
    • Fairfax.
    • Falls Church.
    • Manassas.
    • Manassas Park.

Car Inspection Exemptions in Virginia

Safety Inspections

The following vehicles are exempt from safety inspections:

  • Antique vehicles that are at least 25 years old and registered as antique with the DMV.
  • Any trailer with an actual gross weight* of fewer than 3,000 lbs. unless the trailer has brakes. All trailers with brakes must be inspected.

* “Actual gross weight” refers the combined weight of the trailer and its cargo.

Emissions Inspections

The following vehicles are exempt from emissions testing:

  • Any vehicle being registered for the first time in a qualifying county that has been previously inspected in another qualifying state within the last 12 months.
  • Any vehicle being titled for the first time in Virginia with a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO).
  • Gasoline-powered passenger- or property-carrying vehicles:
    • At least 25 model years old before January 1st of the current year.
    • Weighing more than 10,000 lbs.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Diesel-powered vehicles that are:
    • Older than model year 1997.
    • Over 8,500 lbs.
  • Vehicles powered solely by:
    • Electricity.
    • Compressed or liquefied natural gas.
    • Solar energy.
  • Qualified hybrid vehicles will pay a $2 per year emissions fee.

How to Complete a VA Vehicle Inspection

Safety Inspections

Currently, the Virginia State Police are unable to provide a complete list of Virginia safety inspection locations due to constant changes; however, most new car dealerships and repair shops provide safety inspection services. Generally, these official inspection stations display white signs stating as such in blue letters.

For more help finding Virginia state inspection locations near you, contact your local Virginia State Police Safety Division Area Office.

Once you find a station, bring in your vehicle with the applicable fee:

  • Motorcycles: $12.
  • Trucks weighing 26,000 lbs. or over: $51.
  • Transportation vehicles equipped to carry more than 15 passengers: $51.
  • Tractor trucks: $51.
  • Passenger, light trucks and any other vehicle: $20.
    • This includes trailers and motor homes.

VA state inspection stations provide inspection stickers for your windshield once your vehicle passes inspection.

Failed Safety Inspections

Your inspector will talk with you about why your vehicle failed; it’s your responsibility to have the necessary repairs made and have your vehicle reinspected.

Emissions Inspections

Choose from among Virginia inspection stations near you using the state’s Emissions Inspection Station Listing and bring:

  • Your vehicle registration renewal notice.
  • Payment for your fee ($28 maximum).

Once you pass the emissions inspection, you’ll receive a Vehicle Emissions Inspection Report; VA inspection stations also report the results electronically to the DMV.

NOTE: If you don’t have enough time to have your vehicle inspected before your registration expires, the DMV MAY grant you 1 extension. Contact the DMV at (804) 497-7100 for more information.

Failed Emissions Inspections

You must have your vehicle repaired and retested. You’re granted 1 retest for free if you have your vehicle repaired and bring it back for retesting within 14 days.


Air Conditioning Troubleshooting

Having Air Conditioning Problems? Then You Need To Troubleshoot..
The most likely cause of an automotive air conditioner cooling problem is no refrigerant in the system. If the refrigerant has escaped past a leaky compressor or O-ring seal, leaked out of a pinhole in the evaporator or condenser, or seeped out through a leaky hose, the leak needs to be identified and repaired before the system is recharged.

On many systems, the compressor will not turn on if the refrigerant is low because the “low pressure safety switch” prevents the compressor clutch from engaging if system pressure is low. This protects the compressor from possible damage caused by a lack of lubrication.
One of the first things you should check, therefore, is compressor engagement. If the compressors magnetic clutch is not engaging when the A/C is turned on, the problem may be a blown fuse or a wiring problem. If the fuse is blown, replacing it may restore cooling temporarily. But the underlying reason for the fuse blowing in the first place needs to be identified and corrected to prevent the same thing from happening again.

If the magnetic clutch is receiving voltage but is not engaging the compressor, the clutch is defective and needs to be replaced. If there is any evidence of leakage around the compressor shaft seal, the seal should also be replaced.

If the clutch works but fails to turn the compressor (the belt may squeal in protest!), the compressor has seized and needs to be replaced.

Compressor failures are usually the result of loss of lubrication, which in turn may be due to low refrigerant in the system, a blockage (such as a plugged orifice tube which prevents refrigerant and oil from circulating to the compressor), loss of lubricant due to leaks or improper service procedures (not adding oil to the system to compensate for oil lost through leakage or component replacement), or use of the wrong type of lubricant.

R-12 systems require mineral oil while R-134a systems require various types of PAG oil or POE oil. Using mineral oil in a newer R-134a system can cause serious lubrication problems as can using the wrong grade (viscosity) of PAG oil. Always follow the vehicle or lubricant manufacturers compressor oil recommendations.

The next thing you should check when troubleshooting a no cooling problem is system pressure. For this, you need a set of A/C service gauges. Attach your service gauges to the high and low service fittings. If both the high and low side pressure gauges read low, the system is low and needs recharging. But before any refrigerant is added, check for leaks to find out where the refrigerant is going.

How to Fix Your Car’s Air Conditioner: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

Identifying the Issue
Preparing to Add Refrigerant
Refilling the Refrigerant
Article Summary
Questions & Answers
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A faulty automotive air conditioner can be one of the more difficult issues to diagnose and repair. The first thing you should look for are signs of leaking or an A/C compressor that does not engage. If the air conditioning system requires substantial repairs, you may not have the equipment necessary to conduct those repairs at home. If it is low on refrigerant, however, you can recharge it using a recharge kit you can purchase at a local auto parts store.

Part 1

Identifying the Issue

  1. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 1


    Start the vehicle and turn on the air conditioner.

    Use the key to start the car and turn the air conditioner on high. Feel the air coming out of the air conditioner and assess how warm, cool, or cold it is. If the air is warm to cool, but not cold as it should be, there may be an issue with air flow.


    • Check to see if the cooling fans on your radiator are running. If they are not, there may be an electrical issue.
    • You may need to replace the cabin air filter in your vehicle to increase air flow.

  2. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 2


    Look to see if the A/C compressor is running.

    You will need to ensure the air conditioner compressor is working to determine the correct course of action to make repairs if necessary. Locate the air conditioner in the engine bay and look to see if the center of the pulley is turning along with the pulley itself.


    • There is a clutch that engages when the air conditioner is working. With the clutch engaged, the middle of the pulley will rotate along with the pulley itself.
    • If the clutch does not engage, the A/C compressor may be broken and require replacement or it may just need to be filled with refrigerant.

  3. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 3


    Check the wiring leading to the A/C compressor.

    Most compressors have a wire leading to the electric clutch. Find the connector in the middle of that wire, and unplug it. Take a length of wire and run it from the compressor’s wire to the positive (+) terminal of your battery. If you hear a loud CLACK, the electric clutch is functioning properly. If not, it will need to be replaced.


    • Replacing your A/C compressor may require specialized tools.
    • Bring your vehicle in for repairs if the compressor or clutch needs to be replaced.

  4. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 4


    Look for leaks in the air conditioning system.

    You can purchase leak detection kits to help you identify any leaks in your air conditioning system. These kits provide a dye that will run through the lines and seep out of any leaks or cracks, making them visible to the naked eye.


    • Connect the leak detection can to the low side service port and spray it into the air conditioning system.
    • If you spot any leaks, you will need to take the vehicle in for repairs.
    • If you do not spot any leaks, the problem may simply be low refrigerant.

Part 2

Preparing to Add Refrigerant

  1. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 5


    Purchase the correct type of refrigerant for your vehicle.

    The easiest way to determine the correct type of refrigerant for your vehicle is to check the year it was made. All vehicles built after 1995 use R134a. If your vehicle is older than that, it likely used R12.


    • You cannot refill R12 refrigerant on your own.
    • If your vehicle uses R12, you should schedule an appointment with an auto repair specialist to convert it.

  2. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 6


    Check a thermometer for the ambient temperature.

    In order to read the gauge on the refrigerant, you need to know the current temperature in your environment. Refrigerant occupies a different amount of space within the can and air conditioning system at different temperatures, causing the gauge to read differently at different times.


    • Knowing the ambient temperature will allow you to effectively read the gauge on the refrigerant can.
    • When refrigerant expands to take up more space, it increases the pressure in the can.

  3. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 7


    Locate the low-side service port for the air conditioning.

    Your air conditioning system will have two service ports: a low side and a high side port. When recharging your air conditioner, you will need to locate and identify the low side service port.


    • You can find the low side service port by following the lines from the A/C compressor until you find a nozzle near the bottom of the car.
    • Refer to your vehicle’s service manual to help you locate the port if you are unable to.

  4. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 8


    Use a rag to clean the area around the service port.

    Make sure you don’t clog the service port with any grime or debris by wiping off the port, cap and area around it with a rag. Wipe the cap and the line first, then remove the cap and wipe off the port itself.


    • You can spray brake cleaner onto the line to help you clean it if need be.

  5. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 9


    Attach the charging hose to the low side service port.

    Take the hose that comes with the refrigerant refill kit and connect it to the low side service port you identified earlier. Make sure the opposite end of the hose is connected to the nozzle on the can.


    • If your can came with a gauge, the hose should be connected to the nozzle on the gauge and then to the can.
    • The hose should be long enough to allow you to connect it to the port without placing the can all the way into the engine bay.

  6. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 10


    Use the ambient air pressure chart on the gauge to determine pressure.

    Read the gauge display while taking the ambient temperature into account to determine what level the refrigerant is currently at. Once you begin spraying, you will need to keep an eye on the gauge to determine when the system is full.


    • Keep an eye on the gauge throughout recharging the system to know when to stop.
    • Read the instructions on the can if you are unsure of how to read the gauge.

Part 3

Refilling the Refrigerant

  1. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 11


    Turn the valve until you puncture the seal on the can.

    Turn the valve on the top of the refrigerant can clockwise until it pierces the top and begins releasing refrigerant through the hose and into the vehicle’s air conditioning system.


    • Some cans may require a different method to break their seal. Refer to the instructions on the can for guidance if need be.

  2. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 12


    Hold the can upright.

    As you allow the refrigerant to pass through into the vehicle’s engine, keep the can upright and shake it occasionally. If you turn the can to the side, the pressure will drop and the can will fail to refill the system.


    • Shaking the can occasionally will help maintain pressure as it continues to force refrigerant into the system.
    • Do not turn the can or hold it upside down.

  3. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 13


    Look for leaks.

    Keep your eye out for signs of leaking in the air conditioning system as you refill it. If you spot a leak, it will need to be repaired by a professional mechanic. Make a note of where the leak was to make it easier to find and address.


    • Leaks should be fairly easy to spot as you refill the system.

  4. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 14


    Remove the charging hose and store the can somewhere cool.

    Once the gauge reads as full, remove the hose from the service port and return the cap. If there is refrigerant left in the can, you can keep it to recharge another vehicle or to service the same vehicle again in the future.


    • If the can is empty, you can throw it away.
    • Be sure the can is not leaking if you opt to store it.

  5. Image titled Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner Step 15


    Bring the vehicle in for repairs if necessary.

    If you spotted a leak or the air conditioning compressor fails to engage, you will need to bring the vehicle in for repairs. Replacing an A/C compressor may require specialized tools in your application, so it is often beyond the scope of most hobby mechanics.


    • Be careful dealing with refrigerant leaks as the temperatures can be cold enough to injure you.

Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    Does anyone know why my air conditioner would be creating too much pressure?

    This is usually from an excess of gas/refrigerant.

  • Question

    Is it safe to drive if the air conditioner does not work?

    Yes. Although running the air conditioner while low on refrigerant can damage the A/C compressor.

  • Question

    How do I know if the clutch is out?

    With the A/C turned OFF, the only motion you should see on the compressor is the belt. With A/C ON, pressure gauges tell your A/C clutch when to de/activate. When everything is functioning properly, clutch engagement is easily noticeable when the center of the compressor assembly is rotating.

  • Question

    How do I find the coolant leaks?

    You can use a black light and yellow safety goggles. Or, go to your local parts store and there is a blue dye you can use and it will show you where the leak is.

  • Question

    How would I know if the compressor has gone verses low or no refrigerant?

    Add refrigerant to the specified levels. If the air conditioning still functions improperly, the problem is not in the coolant level.

  • Question

    The cold air is blowing full blast but I guess one of the doors in the air flow ducts is locked. How can I get in there to make it work?

    Chances are you’re going to have to take apart the dash because the doors inside which control airflow are controlled by either vacuum or electronic actuators. There’s no easy repair here — speak to a qualified repairer for help.

  • Question

    How can I trace the wiring of my AC system?

    Start by getting a schematics manual, like a CHiltons or Hayes, that has pictures of the wiring for your car’s year and model.

  • Question

    Why does my air conditioning click when I turn it on?

    The compressor may be low on refrigerant. If it keeps trying to switch on, but without enough gas, the compressor cycles off again. Check your compressor pulley to see if it is turning. Most likely, according to your description, the pulley will spin for a second or two, then stop. Check refrigerant pressure and add coolant, and check for leaks.

  • Question

    What do you do if the indicator on the AC recharge kit is in the red zone?

    Just release some of the freon slowly from the low side until the indicator is in the green zone.

  • Question

    What can cause the air conditioner to go bad?

    A car’s air conditioner will usually go bad over time; it can also go bad if it is used too often or not often enough. Other causes include: physical damage to the compressor or the fan, overheating, extreme temperatures, particle accumulation in moving parts, and foreign objects inside ventilation ducts.

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Article SummaryX

To fix your car’s air conditioner, start by turning your car on and checking to see if the air conditioner is producing cold air. If it’s not, you may need to fix the cooling fans on your radiator or replace the cabin air filter. You should also check the air conditioner in the engine bay to see if the compressor is running. If it isn’t, you may need to replace the compressor or refill the air conditioner with refrigerant. Also, try using a leak detection kit to check if your air conditioning system is leaking, in which case you’ll need to take it in for repairs. To learn how to add refrigerant to your air conditioner, scroll down!

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Article Info

This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Together, they cited information from 15 references. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article meets our high standards.

Categories: Car Maintenance and Repair

In other languages:

Español: arreglar el aire acondicionado del carro, Nederlands: De airco van je auto repareren, Português: Consertar o Ar Condicionado do Carro, Italiano: Riparare il Condizionatore dell’Auto, Русский: починить автомобильный кондиционер, 中文: 修复汽车空调, Français: réparer le climatiseur de votre voiture, Deutsch: Die Klimaanlage im Auto reparieren, Bahasa Indonesia: Memperbaiki AC Mobil, العربية: إصلاح مكيف هواء السيارة, 日本語: 車のエアコンを修理する, हिन्दी: अपनी कार के एसी की मरम्मत करें

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