Amy's Amazing Auto Service and Repair Blog

How To Tell If Your Car Air Conditioner Has Refrigerant Leaks

by Derek Davidson

Although the refrigerant in your vehicle's air conditioner circulates in a closed-loop setup, it can escape.

The insulated copper lines (called refrigerant lines) that move the refrigerant between your AC system's evaporator and condenser units can develop cracks or get damaged over time, resulting in refrigerant leaks. As the system starts to run low on refrigerant, it will be forced to run harder and longer to cool your in-car environment until it eventually breaks down.

Get your auto air conditioner checked for leaks and regassed if it develops the following issues.

Your AC Is Blowing Hot Air

The refrigerant circulating in your car's AC system acts as the essential heat-transfer fluid that extracts and moves heat from your in-cab environment to the outdoor air. When the cooling system loses refrigerant, it will no longer remove heat at peak efficiency. As a result, you may notice that the air from your AC vents is now warm instead of cold.

Your AC Is Making A Hissing Sound

A malfunctioning car AC system can make many weird sounds. A hissing sound, in particular, could mean that the loss in the system's cooling ability and efficiency is due to a refrigerant leak. 

The refrigerant in an auto AC system is stored under pressure. As it escapes through a leak in the system, it tends to make the same characteristic hiss you'd hear from a leaking gas pipe. Finding and fixing the leak is essential to get your AC system working at its peak potential again.

Musty Odor In Your Car

When summer weather arrives, you can always turn on your car's air conditioning system to keep the vehicle interiors cool and comfortable. In addition to providing a comfortable driving experience, the auto AC system regulates in-cab humidity and cleans the air, improving the overall quality of your car's in-cab environment.

If you notice a musty smell in your car when you turn on the AC, chances are moisture is building up within the system. Low refrigerant levels prevent proper removal of heat from your car's cooling system, potentially resulting in a mould problem.

If you suspect you have mould in your car, it is best to get your refrigerant level checked.

Knowing the signs your car's AC system is running low on refrigerant is essential to avoid big problems that may lead to expensive repairs down the road.

Contact a professional for more information about identifying a need for auto air conditioning repair