While you may be eternally grateful for an auto air conditioning system on a hot Australian day, you may not really understand how it works. Certainly, it involves a clever process with multiple stages, and for smooth operation, you need to ensure that all individual components are in good working order. However, one of those components is situated right at the front of the vehicle, where it is vulnerable to damage. Should this happen, you may get hot under the collar, so what do you need to know about this condenser? How can you tell if it is damaged, and what should you do next?
How the Condenser Works
The condenser is essentially a heat exchange mechanism that is very similar to your primary radiator. Usually, it is situated right next to the big radiator and is exposed to the rushing air as you drive along the road. This air will pass across the condenser fins and remove the heat that has developed during the process. As this happens, the refrigerant liquids will be converted from a vapour into a liquid state.
Vulnerable to Damage
When you're driving, stones can be flung up by passing vehicles and may occasionally damage the matrix of the condenser. In addition, this part can sometimes be affected by corrosion. Further, the connections and seals that form part of the distribution network can degrade, and any of these developments could trigger a leak. When the refrigerant leaks, the air conditioning system will not work as it should and may even stop altogether.
Signs of a Problem
You may notice some residue on the floor underneath your vehicle should the system have sprung a leak. But the biggest indicator of a problem will be warmer air in the cabin, potentially accompanied by a musty smell.
Repair or Replace?
Unfortunately, it's not easy to repair the condenser, and it may need to be replaced in most cases. To do this, the mechanic will need to remove many other parts, so this is not something you can do in your driveway. Further, the mechanic will need to recharge the system and potentially add more lubricant, so it is quite an involved job.
What to Do Next
You should get on the phone with your mechanic at the first signs of a warming cabin. Once they inspect the vehicle, they will tell you if the condenser has seen its better days and take care of any repairs.
Contact a local mechanic to learn more about auto air conditioning repair services.