During the summer, you may be used to flitting in between your air-conditioned house, office and vehicle so that you spend as little time as possible in that mid-day furnace. However, sometimes part of that equation doesn't work and this can leave you more than a little bit hot under the collar. If the A/C system in your car seems to be blowing tropical air at you instead of cold, what can you check?
You may have dollar signs in front of your eyes as you worry how much this is going to cost you, and while you should certainly take the vehicle in for a check anyway, perhaps there is something you can do in the meantime to alleviate the horror. There are three places to look, to start off with.
The condenser is a critical part of the system, but it is vulnerable to blockage. This is because it's located at the very front of the vehicle and captures the air as your car motors down the road. Its job is to convert this hot air, but something could be getting in the way. Have a good look to see if any foreign objects such as leaves, plastic bags or bugs may have become trapped in the condenser intake. If so, remove them and try again. If you find that a heavy object may have damaged the condenser, it may well need to be replaced.
Open the bonnet and have a look underneath to see if all the connections that link the system together are in place. Also, have a look at the integrity of the hoses to see if they are still working as they should. If there are any splits or tears, then the coolant could be leaking and causing your issue.
When the car is not moving, the A/C system relies on a separate cooling fan to modify the temperature in the cabin. This fan is located next to the condenser and should be turning when your vehicle is stationary and the A/C system is switched on. If it's not, perhaps the fuse needs to be replaced, but you can also have a quick look to see if anything is getting in the way of the fan and preventing it from turning. If you can see something, make sure that you switch the car off before removing it as otherwise the fan could start turning suddenly when you're in that area and cause a nasty injury.
You may be lucky and find that you've fixed the problem and can continue with your day. However, if the system is still not working, then a visit to a mechanic to consider mechanical repairs and more can help you to lower your temperature.