All Car Air Conditioning (A/C) Systems require regular servicing to keep them working effectively and to prolong the life span of their components. We use only R134a. Unfortunately, refrigerants readily absorb water which turns them corrosive. It’s quite normal for a small percentage of the refrigerant charge to be lost from your car’s system via the pores in the rubber hose sections from year to year, so even when everything is in perfect order, your system will need to be recharged at some stage.
The purpose of YEARLY servicing of your car’s A/C system is twofold: Firstly, doing so will ensure that your system is operating on a full charge of clean refrigerant and therefore, working at its best for your comfort and economy. Secondly, it will ensure that your system is free from contaminants such as air and moisture, which can cause incorrect pressures and poor performance or even worse; internal corrosion within your A/C system, possibly leading to leaks and premature component failure (Resulting in avoidable, expensive repairs). The maximum permissible level of moisture in a car A/C system is less than 6 parts per million; virtually nothing!
The filter/receiver/drier is an integral part of your cars A/C system that has been designed primarily to trap moisture, effectively removing it from the system, and preventing it’s corrosive damage. This DRYING action is chemical in nature, so it can’t go on endlessly, this is why it is very important to replace the filter/receiver/drier at specific intervals (we recommend every 2 years for most cars, or any time the system has been opened to the atmosphere).
What is the Retrofitting all about and why it is necessary?
Refrigerant R12 was used in a car A/C systems from their very beginning, right up until the 90’s. It has been shown that R12 damages the environment by depleting the earth’s Ozone layer (part of the atmosphere that filters out harmful rays from the sun). The major governments around the world (including Australia) have signed protocols promising the reduction and eventual complete fazing out of ozone depleting substances.
The alternative for old R12 systems is to modify them in order to make them suitable for the use of R134a refrigerant, which is the standard refrigerant used in all new cars. This modifying process to make an old R12 system for R134a is commonly referred to as Retrofitting. It basically involves modifying the service ports of the R12 system so they will accept R134a service hoses, replacing the filter/receiver/drier, changing the original mineral oil to a synthetic oil compatible with R134a and replacing some of the “O-ring” seals.
What causes that unpleasant smell that sometimes comes from my cars air conditioning system?
During normal operation, the A/C systems draws hot, humid air into the evaporator (cooling chamber), where the falling temperature forces the moisture in the air of condenser onto the cold evaporator fins. Dirt, dust, hair and lint from the passing air sticks onto the wet surfaces. The continual condensing of water droplets is meant to self cleanse the evaporator but sometimes dust and dirt can build up and trap mould spores, causing a foul odour.
Special sanatising products are available for the purpose of ridding odour causing mould and mildew form your cars evaporator unit. We recommend that you allow us to carry out this service for you.
What is the white vapour that I sometimes see streaming from my cars A/C vent? Is it escaping gas? Is it harmful?
If you have seen an odourless white vapour emitting from your A/C vents but afterwards, your A/C is still operating OK, it is extremely unlikely that it was escaping refrigerant that you could see. Vaporised refrigerant (gas) is not normally visible, therefore, for you to see escaping refrigerant, it would have to be liquefied refrigerant escaping (which requires a very big leak). In such a case, your system would become completely empty within an hour or two, if not in minutes.
This odourless white vapour is most likely caused by humidity, in which case what you would be seeing is actually very small water droplets which condense out of the hot, humid air as it is cooled, then quickly disappears as they vaporise again when they mix with warm air inside your car. It happens when hot humid air passes through the A/C cooling chamber too fast for all the condensing moisture in the air to form into water droplets on the cold metal fins of the evaporator core and are carried by the air through the outlet vents in your dash. This water vapour is not harmful and usually doesn’t persist for long periods but by selecting recycled air from inside your car rather than outside air will often stop water vapour forming (the recycled air inside the car will generally be lower in humidity than the outside air).
The A/C system is far more efficient than the heater at defogging the windows of your car in damp weather conditions – turn it on along with your heater for clearer views! (Once your car’s engine is at normal operating temperature running the heater and the A/C together will produce warm, dry air).
You should try to run your cars A/C system for at least 5 minutes a week.