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Flipping a switch in your 4×4 on a hot summer day is the easiest way to cool down, but just how does your A/C work and what makes it so efficient? Most importantly, how do you keep it running at top performance even on the hottest summer day? You might be surprised to learn that the cold air generated by your system begins as hot air reconditioned. It is actually changes in air pressure that cause the hot air to cool. When the A/C is turned on, the engine’s compressor compresses refrigerant or Freon. As air passes through the condenser, it loses its heat and then works its way through the receiver where moisture is removed from the air. The next step is the expansion valve, which slows down the refrigerant even more. This step drops pressure and temperature prior to moving on to the evaporator. This small radiator removes even more moisture and continues to lower the temperature. Finally, the ventilation system blows cool air throughout the interior of your vehicle.
Given all of the moving parts above, you might begin to wonder how often the A/C unit should be inspected to ensure optimal performance. The simple answer is if your A/C isn’t cooling you off quickly, there is a problem with one or several parts of the ventilation system. The most common issue is refrigerant. Thankfully, this is also the most inexpensive option. During high use months, freon levels may drop in a vehicle, causing temperatures to remain on the warm side.
On average, most 4x4s are built with the following:
- Compressor – the cornerstone of every A/C system, the compressor pressurizes the refrigerant that cools the air. It also monitors and controls temperature output. If your your vehicle is leaking oil or freon, chances are the compressor needs replacement.
- Condenser – this key element in your cooling system reduces air temperature and pressure, turning hot refrigerant gasses into a liquid that continues on to the A/C dryer. Leaks are another indicator of part problems along with clogs and poor performance.
- Receiver Driver or Accumulator – if your 4×4 has a thermal expansion valve, it has a receiver. This catches harmful debris from reaching other parts of your A/C system. A worn receiver will result in poor A/C performance, moisture, or poor defroster performance. The accumulator provides the same service, but it is found on vehicles with an orifice tube.
- Expansion Valve or Orifice Tube – both an expansion valve and orifice tube monitor the pressure and temperature of the system to determine how much refrigerant is needed to cool down your 4×4. Indicators of trouble include poor A/C performance and clogs.
- Evaporator – responsible for cooling air and removing moisture, the evaporator has a starring role in your cooling system. It’s the home stretch before cool air is circulated throughout your vehicle. For top performance of your A/C, the evaporator must be in good working order. Poor A/C performance indicates that this should be checked by a professional.
Contact us at Advanced Four Wheel Drive & Auto Repair if you’ve noticed a change in your A/C’s performance. If the air just isn’t as cool as it used to be, that is an indicator of a cooling issue. Let our expert technicians perform a diagnostic on the cooling system along with any other part of your 4×4 that you have questions about. It’s our goal to get you back on the road as soon as possible to enjoy a fun and safe summer. As the heat begins to rise, you can count on Advanced Four Wheel Drive & Auto Repair to prepare your 4×4 for the summer.