Why is the AC in My Car Not Blowing Cold?

You get in your car in the middle of the summer, turn it on and leave your house. The air conditioning has been on for a few minutes, but it is still not blowing cold. You roll your windows down, but by the time you get to your destination, you are covered in sweat. Dealing with this every time you drive during the summer gets old quickly. But why is your AC suddenly not blowing cold? Automotive air conditioning systems are complex and have many components that can fail. We are going to go over the most common causes of an automotive air conditioning failure.

Why is my AC not working in my car?

auto air conditioning system graphic

The air conditioning in your car is a closed system and must remain sealed to function properly. A breach in the system or failure of a component will reduce the effectiveness of the air conditioning, resulting in warm air coming through the vents. Below are the four most common causes of poorly functioning vehicle air conditioning.

   1. Leaking or low AC refrigerant

Over time the closed and pressurized AC system in your vehicle may start to leak. With less refrigerant, the system’s ability to cool the air entering the cabin decreases. In theory, without a leak, the refrigerant level in the air conditioning system would not change. If you notice warm or hot air coming through the vents in your car, recharging the AC can help it blow cold again. Many repair shops can recharge your AC system. It can be tempting to buy a recharge kit from a local auto parts store, but without the proper training or tools attempting to recharge your AC yourself can cause further damage to the system. 

   2. Bad air conditioning compressor

a/c compressor in car

The AC compressor pressurizes the refrigerant into a gas. Your air conditioning system is powered by the compressor. If the compressor fails, the refrigerant will be unable to cycle through the system, meaning the air entering the cabin will not be cold. A sudden change in air temperature coming through the vents could indicate a failed or failing AC compressor. 

3. Blocked or broken condenser

The A/C condenser allows the gas created by the compressor to change forms into a high-pressure liquid. Additionally, it helps remove heat from the refrigerant before it heads through the compressor again. The condenser is located at the front of the car, meaning it can become damaged or blocked by debris while driving. In addition to causing warm air to come through the vents, a damaged AC condenser can cause overheating, emitting a burning smell when the AC is on. 

   4. Broken air conditioning fans

air conditioning fan

The air conditioning fans assist the condenser in changing the state of the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid. If the fans are not working, the refrigerant will not be as efficient at cooling the air coming into the cabin. It is relatively easy to check the AC fans on most cars. Pop the hood when the vehicle is running and look at the front of the car, near the radiator. If the fans are not moving while the AC is on and the air coming through the vents is warm, they may be broken. 

What should I do when my car AC is blowing warm air?

The best thing to do if you notice your ac is not working like it should is to bring your car to a qualified shop. The complexity of most vehicle air conditioning systems makes it difficult for the average person to figure out what is exactly wrong. Take note of when you noticed the issue start, any odd smells or noises, and any recent accidents or other factors that could potentially impact your air conditioning. When you bring your car in, pass on this information to your service advisor. 

Get your car’s AC repaired

If you are having issues with your air conditioning, call or schedule an appointment at Becker Service Center! The team of skilled ASE-certified technicians at our Naperville repair shop will get to the bottom of your air conditioning issue quickly, keeping you cool this summer. 

How Often Should My Car Be Serviced?

Regular maintenance is the best way to keep your vehicle reliable and running as it should. Keeping up on services like oil changes, brake service, air filter replacement, and spark plug/ignition services, and timing belt/chain replacement can extend the life of your vehicle and prevent more expensive and serious repairs down the road. 

That being said, every person you talk to has a different opinion on how frequently a vehicle should be serviced. To make things more complicated, vehicle manufacturers develop their maintenance schedules instructing you to perform certain service items at specific mileage intervals. In some cases, the recommended intervals from the manufacturer are not frequent enough.

So, what should you believe? There are a lot of variables that impact how often you should get your vehicle serviced. In this article, we are going to clear up the confusion so you know when it’s time to get your car to the shop.

Why is regular maintenance important?

People get sick and go to the doctor when there is something wrong. The doctor may diagnose you with an illness and recommend a treatment to make your symptoms better or go away altogether. They also may recommend lifestyle changes to reduce the damage done to your body.

 Your vehicle, like your body, is comprised of many different interconnected systems that can wear out, become run down, or fail if they are not taken care of, abused, or grow older. Preventative maintenance helps slow the progression of issues that come from years of operation and exposure to the elements, keeping your car running as it should for longer. While it may seem expensive and pointless to replace and service things that aren’t broken, the money you spend on maintenance will almost always be less expensive than fixing a component when it fails. Not to mention, the time you spend without your vehicle will be much more if it needs an extensive repair. 

What services are considered “regular” or “preventive” maintenance on my car?

Most of the systems within your vehicle are subject to wear and tear that comes from its regular operation. They utilize fluids to lubricate and cool (oil, coolant), and expendable parts that wear out due to friction (brakes, clutches). Any of these changeable components that lose effectiveness over time fall under the preventative maintenance umbrella.

How often should I have my car serviced?

It depends. Each regular service item has a different interval, and the interval will vary depending on the vehicle, engine, age, and mileage. The list below will highlight the more common maintenance items that most cars require, as well as our recommended service intervals. Remember, all vehicles follow slightly different guidelines. These are our recommendations for getting the most out of your car. 

Oil Changes

Red-oil-dipstick

The oil keeps the moving components in your engine lubricated and cool. Over time, it becomes less effective and needs to be changed. Most modern vehicles have an oil change interval between 5000 and 12000 miles based on factory recommendations. Synthetic oil used in modern vehicles is much more resistant to breakdown and remains effective significantly longer than conventional oil. 

Regardless, the more frequently you perform oil changes the better. Many new cars use downsized, turbocharged engines to squeeze out the most power and fuel economy possible. While highly efficient, these engines produce a lot of heat that can lead to more rapid oil breakdown. 

At Becker Service Center, we recommend changing your oil at a minimum twice per year if your car uses synthetic oil. For conventional oil, we suggest an oil change every 90 days.

Brakes and Brake Fluid

brake fluid reservoir

Every time you drive, the pads and rotors in your braking system are exposed to extreme heat. There is no set interval for brakes due to the variability in their wear (a pickup truck that tows frequently will wear through brake pads faster than a small commuter car). Brake fluid is responsible for transferring and amplifying the input from your foot into the breaks, stopping the car.

The best way to keep track of when your brakes need service is to have them looked at every time you come in. At Becker Service Center, we will measure the remaining pad material when you bring your car in for any maintenance item and let you know when they need to be replaced. Brake fluid should be replaced every five years to maintain optimal functionality.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Automatic transmission fluid, or ATF, keeps the moving components in the automatic transmission lubricated and prevents wear and tear. The interval for flushing the transmission and adding new ATF is much larger than motor oil changes. 

We recommend an automatic transmission flush every 50,000 miles at Becker Service Center. However, if the fluid looks dark or smells burnt, the ATF should be changed sooner to prevent damage to the transmission. 

Differential and Transfer Case Fluid

Differentials and transfer cases route power from the engine to the wheels and use a gear oil to keep the moving components lubricated. Drivers neglect the fluids in these units frequently. Performing transfer case and differential fluid flushes should be on your regular maintenance list. 

We recommend changing the differential and transfer case fluid every 30,000 to 50,000 miles to prevent premature failure.

Manual Transmission Fluid

Another frequently overlooked service. Like other fluids, manual transmission gear oil becomes less effective as it gets older. Old fluid can damage gears and synchros, making your gear shifts rough and eventually causing severe damage to the transmission. 

At Becker Service Center, we recommend performing a manual transmission oil service every 30,000 – 60,000 miles to keep your transmission working as it should. 

Coolant Flush

coolant reservoir

Flushing the coolant and replacing it with fresh antifreeze is an important regular maintenance item. Old coolant loses its anti-corrosive properties. Corrosion in the cooling system causes coolant lines and flanges to rust or break down, requiring repairs. 

We recommend a coolant flush every 5 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. 

Power Steering Fluid Flush

Like all the fluids on this list, the power steering fluid loses its functionality over time. It can become abrasive and wear out your power steering pump faster. Some modern cars have moved away from using a hydraulic power steering pump, opting for an electric-assist system that forgoes the use of fluid. We recommend changing your power steering fluid every 30,000 miles. 

Fuel Injection Cleaning

Over time, fuel injectors can become clogged. When injectors are not working as they should, you will notice a drop in performance while you drive. and engine with clean injectors will perform best.

At Becker Service Center, we recommend getting your fuel injectors cleaned every 60,000 miles. 

Tire Rotations

tire on car

Rotating your tires preserves their tread life, prevents uneven wear, and makes your vehicle safer by preserving handling. The type and frequency of tire rotation depend on a vehicle’s drive (front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive). 

We recommend a tire rotation every 6 months or as needed, depending on the vehicle. 

Timing Service 

timing belt

The timing system keeps the intake and exhaust valves timed correctly with the bottom end of the engine. Timing system issues or failure can result from a variety of issues ranging from rough running up to severe engine damage. Timing intervals are highly vehicle-dependent. Its best to follow factory recommendations, but in some cases, it is advised to perform a timing service even more frequently. Have your mechanic keep an eye on your timing components every time you have work or service done. 

Let Becker Service Center Handle All Your Maintenance 

Our team of ASE-certified technicians will keep your car up to date on service and maintenance. Trust your vehicle to our Naperville repair shop. Call or schedule an appointment today!