Automobile air conditioning was originally introduced in 1933, and is now a standard feature in all cars. When the summer weather reaches its peak, this one-time luxury becomes a vital way to stay cool and collected whilst driving, but unfortunately like all systems it’s prone to breakdown. We at Launch Tech have a full stock of parts and consumables to help you tackle any issue with your A/C, and with our guide to vehicle air conditioning equipment, you’ll have a clearer idea on how to self-diagnose and repair your car’s cooling system.
The following is a list of all the major components of a vehicle's air conditioning system, how they can malfunction, and the best tools available for fixing them yourself:
This takes the refrigerant in your air conditioner, and transforms it from a low temperature, low pressure gas into a high temperature, high-pressure gas.
Solution: The Adiator CLT1 Clutchless Compressor Tester lets you examine all clutchless, direct drive and externally controlled compressors, and determine if there are any problems (such as an electronic failure or an A/C loop). Better still, it doesn’t require the dismounting of the compressor, saving you time.
A fancy name for your air conditioner’s radiator, this device condenses the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid form whilst it is cooled, expelling it from your car. Over time, it can become corroded, particularly its coils, which can lead to refrigerant leaks.
Solution: Most condensers are sealed in, and only a professional technician will be able to repair it without the risk of releasing hazardous chemicals into your environment. You can still however do a preliminary diagnostics on the system if it does not properly release cool air.
Orifice Tube/Expansion Valve
This regulates the liquid refrigerant travelling into the bottom of the evaporator. It’s main purpose is to restrict the flow of the liquid refrigerant, since if we were to allow too much refrigerant to enter the evaporator, it would get too cold, and the moisture collected on it could freeze. An Orifice Tube is used as an alternative to the valve, and is similar except that it does not have any moving parts.
Solution: The Expansion Valve can fail in a number of ways, due to clogging or blocking, or from a loss of metering ability due to wear. All of these require specific remedies. Aside from blockage, the Orifice Tube is a rather simple device that really only needs to be replaced if it stops working.
This storage tank and filter is designed to remove moisture from the refrigerant via a material called ‘desiccant’. Most receiver/driers contain a filter that can trap debris that may be inside the A/C system, and the device also acts as a temporary storage containers for oil and refrigerant when neither are needed.
Solution: Receiver/driers and accumulators rarely fail themselves (except due to clogging from debris), but they will need to be replaced whenever the system is opened for any other type of service.
Also known as freon, this liquid/gas passes through all the other components in the A/C system. Most air conditioners will need a freon ‘charge’ to bring the back to good working order, but it is a very dangerous chemical that can freeze a bodypart instantly i.e. cause frostbite.
Solution: Launch features a number of fully featured, automatic fluid exchangers that can be used to not only diagnose refrigerant quality, but safely recover it. The ECK-1890 Automatic A/C Service Station for example not only recycles all the refrigerant in your AC, but is designed to replaces the identical weight of freon that is extracted during the recovery process.