(704) 372-3885 2641 N. Graham St. Charlotte, NC 28206

Learn About Your Car

Question: Why isn't my air conditioner blowing cold air? Answer: Your air conditioning system uses refrigerant to create cold air. The most common reasons drivers lose their cold air have to do with the refrigerant. The first is not enough refrigerant. Refrigerant is a gas in the system, and very small holes in a hose, seal or coupler can allow enough to leak out to prevent the creation of cold air. Another potential problem is contamination. Over time the inside of the rubber hoses can deteriorate, and little bits of rubber can clog up various filters and other parts of the vehicle A/C system, preventing proper circulation of the refrigerant. And a component could also be worn or broken. So the first step for drivers who can't cool their vehicle is a thorough air conditioning inspection, looking for leaks and worn parts. In fact, Federal law requires an inspection before adding refrigerant. Some states do not allow topping off a leaking system. Once any repairs are made, refrigerant is added. At the same time, special oil is added to the system. This oil cools and lubricates various components as it circulates along with the refrigerant. If you have a refrigerant leak, you also have an oil leak – and it's important that both be replenished for proper function and protection of your A/C system. Sometimes overlooked is the fact that a worn serpentine belt (which drives the A/C compressor) leads to belt slippage which puts additional strain on the compressor. Replacing your serpentine belt and belt tensioner on schedule at Joey's Truck Repair Inc. will extend the life of your A/C compressor and other belt driven accessories.
You've probably noticed a bunch of warning lights on your dash when you start your engine. They flash on to test the circuits and then go off if everything's OK. One of the warning lights looks like a car battery. Its job is to tell you if your battery's not charging properly. You know that your battery stores electricity – enough to start your engine and get you moving. But that's about it – you can only get a few miles in Charlotte on battery power alone. You need an alternator to generate enough electricity to run your engine and power your electrical accessories like the stereo, power seats, heater fan, on-board computers and so on. On top of that, the alternator needs to recharge your battery. So when your alternator isn't working properly, there isn't enough electricity for all of those things. When your alternator fails, you aren't going very far. So why would your alternator not work? Usually they've simply worn out. Alternators are driven by your serpentine belt and spin 2 to 3 times faster than the engine – that's a lot of work. The bearings wear out, as do the copper wire coils and magnets that generate the electricity. There's no sense in hobbling along with an alternator that's not working properly. It will fail at some point and leave you stranded. Get a bad alternator replaced as soon as you can. Your Charlotte, NC service technician at Joey's Truck Repair Inc. will install an alternator that meets your manufacturer's specifications. Some folks use a lot of additional electrical gizmos in the vehicle, like computers, DVD players, power inverters and such or may regularly tow a camp trailer with a battery that recharges as you drive. If that sounds like you, talk with your Charlotte service adviser at Joey's Truck Repair Inc. about upgrading to a more heavy-duty alternator to meet your needs.
You may have wondered where the warm air in your passenger compartment comes from. Well, as your engine starts to warm up, it also warms the coolant/antifreeze that circulates around the engine and through the radiator. There is also a hose that carries coolant/antifreeze from the engine to the heater core and another that takes it back into the engine. The heater core looks like a little radiator and lives in the air blend box behind the dashboard. When you turn on the heat, air blows over the heater core, is warmed and comes into the cabin. Some vehicles have a heater valve that directs coolant through the heater core when the heat is on and bypasses the heater core when the heat is off. In other vehicles, the temperature of the air is controlled within the air blend box by how much air is directed over the heater core. The engine cooling system, in a larger sense, also encompasses the heater core. Things that adversely affect, say, your radiator will also harm your heater core. The coolant/antifreeze contains corrosion inhibitors that coat the surfaces inside the cooling system, including the heater core. When the corrosion inhibitors are depleted, the cooling system can become corroded, filled with contaminants and may even start to leak. There are several signs of a leaky heater core: First you may notice a sweet smell from your vents. This is coolant leaking out and getting into the air. You may even see vapor coming out the vents and notice a film building up inside the windows. Of course, breathing coolant vapors is not good for you. You may also see coolant on the driveway. Depending on the design of your vehicle, you may even get coolant leaking out into the foot wells of the cabin. Coolant/antifreeze leaking out through the heater core means that the overall coolant level in the system will be low and the engine is in danger of overheating – which is the most common cause of mechanical breakdown. The good news is that the things you do to protect your cooling system also protect your heater core. Changing your coolant/antifreeze as directed by your vehicle manufacturer or upon the advice of your service technician will help ensure your coolant has enough corrosion inhibitors working to protect the system. Also, quickly repairing any leaks and inspecting hoses for signs of internal breakdown will help keep things from becoming an emergency. Talk with your service adviser at Joey's Truck Repair Inc. about when a cooling system service should be performed.
The thermostat is part of your cooling system. Charlotte residents' vehicle thermostats perform a similar function to the thermostats in their homes. At home, you set your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature range. When your home gets too hot, the air conditioning kicks on and when it gets too cool, the heater turns on. Now your engine also has an optimal temperature range: warm enough to run efficiently and not so hot as to cause engine damage. Your vehicle's thermostat is a valve between the engine and the radiator. When Charlotte residents first start a cold engine, the valve (thermostat) is closed, allowing the coolant surrounding the engine to warm up to the proper operating temperature. As the coolant gets hotter, the thermostat opens, allowing coolant to flow through to the radiator to be cooled. The thermostat opens and closes to keep the engine within a certain temperature range. Now thermostats are rated for a specific temperature depending on the engine – not a one size fits all proposition. Thermostats are subject to normal wear. Proper operation depends on a special wax that expands as it heats up to open a spring-loaded valve. A worn thermostat could stick in the open position causing the engine to run too cool. This is inefficient and could affect performance and fuel economy. If a thermostat sticks in the closed position, the engine can be subject to the results of overheating. There isn't a specific routine for Charlotte residents to maintain their thermostat, but maintaining the cooling system by changing the coolant/antifreeze on schedule will make sure the coolant has enough corrosion inhibitors to protect the thermostat and other system components. Cooling system experts and the team at Joey's Truck Repair Inc. in Charlotte recommend replacing your thermostat when you do a coolant flush or exchange. Also, thermostats usually wear out faster than your hoses, so if a worn hose replacement is performed, replace the thermostat at the same time. If your temperature warning light comes on, have an inspection of your cooling system right away. This could be a thermostat . The thermostat could also be the culprit for Charlotte residents who aren't getting hot air when they turn on their heater. The thermostat is a relatively inexpensive part that stands guard between you and catastrophic engine damage. Follow your owner's manual instructions, or check with your friendly and knowledgeable Joey's Truck Repair Inc. service adviser to see if it's time for a cooling system inspection or service. Give us a call 704-372-3885