Thurston Car Talk: Air Conditioning Service


Submitted by Bron of Bron’s Automotive

It’s the time of year when we want our Air Conditioning system to perform flawlessly.  I am sometimes asked what an A/C service is all about and why it would be necessary if it was still blowing out cold air.  Air Conditioning systems work by circulating a set amount of refrigerant, (called the “charge”), in a circuit through various components.  The refrigerant is circulated by the Compressor. (Some of us know the compressor as that expensive part of the A/C system) The Compressor is lubricated by refrigerant oil that is carried around the system by the refrigerant.  When a system is low on refrigerant, it does not circulate the oil and lubricate the compressor as well as the system can with a full charge of refrigerant.  At some point the charge gets low enough that a pressure safety switch turns off the Compressor to protect it.  Then it blows warm air and you notice.

People wonder why a home refrigerator with the same basic system will work a long time and not lose its charge, while a car can lose a charge in 5-7 years?   It’s because most refrigerators never hit potholes, speed bumps, curbs, etc.  All that movement and thermal cycling means that a cars A/C system can lose a little charge each year until it’s finally lost enough that the safety switch turns the system off.

Modern A/C systems need a very precise amount of refrigerant to operate at peak performance.  A quality A/C service consists of drawing the remaining refrigerant out and recycling it to purify it of dirt and moisture, which would harm the compressor if left in, then adding the correct amount of new refrigerant and a little oil to the recycled amount, and recharging the system to full charge.

So how often should I service my system?  I recommend servicing every 4-5 years, while the system is still blowing cold, before it gets so low the safety switch turns off the Compressor.  More frequent servicing is a waste of money, or it means that there is a refrigerant leak that needs to be found and fixed.  Service your A/C system now and you don’t have to wonder if it will turn off during that vacation to Death Valley.  Bron Lindgren, Bron’s Automotive, repairing and servicing vehicles in Olympia, Tumwater, Lacey, Thurston County, and all of the South Sound.

About The Author

Bron Lindgren has been an Olympia resident since 1975. He has been working on vehicles as a technician since the late 1970’s, and started his own shop, Bron’s Automotive in 2002. Bron hires only ASE certified technicians, is an AAA approved auto repair shop, and provides shuttle service as well as a 2 year/24,000 warranty. Bron is a member of the West Olympia Rotary, the Automotive Service Association, Thurston County Chamber, and a board member of the Community Mental Health Foundation, BHR’S fundraising arm.

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