Don’t Sweat it this Summer… Take Care of Your A/C!

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It’s hot! In Amarillo, we’re expected to reach 100° this weekend, and it’s probably going to be in the 90s through all of August and possibly September, too. If your car’s A/C isn’t working, just admit it, you’re going to be miserable! But don’t worry—Aardvark Automotive can help. We’ll pinpoint exactly what is wrong with your air conditioning, and as you’ll see from this article, it could be a few different things. You want to make sure your cooling system gets the right fix to work properly, with the least cost and inconvenience for you.

Don’t Ignore Weak Airflow from Your A/C

One of the first signs of a compromised A/C system is weak airflow from your vents. The main causes of weak airflow are mold or mildew in the evaporator core, a loose hose, non-functioning ventilation fan, and worn out seals. Just having one these issues can not only cause weak airflow, it can lead to much more significant problems, so it’s best to have your air conditioning checked out before further damage occurs. With A/C, it’s literally cooler not to procrastinate.

When Your A/C Just Isn’t What It Used to Be…

Some vehicles have Driver Information Centers (DIC) to let you know how your car’s systems are faring, but many do not, so you may not realize your A/C is failing until it starts blowing less-than-cold air. The lack of crisp, cold air in your vehicle could be caused by:

  • Failed compressor or compressor clutch
  • Failed blower motor or blower motor resistor
  • Clogged expansion tube or refrigerant charging hose
  • Failed o-ring, seal, hose, or another A/C system component causing a Freon leak
  • Failed switch, fuse, relay, control module, blend door or solenoid
  • Damaged or failed condenser or evaporator
  • Vacuum leaks

If your car develops an A/C leak, letting it go for too long can spell major trouble for your cooling system. On the other hand, if you (or we) find the leak early, the repair you need will likely be small and much less expensive than if the leak has been affecting your air conditioning for a while. With long-time leaks, moisture will most likely enter your cooling system and damage vital and expensive parts.

When it’s this hot, don’t risk your comfort and safety with a poorly functioning A/C system. Bring your vehicle to Aardvark Automotive, and we’ll make sure your air conditioning is in top condition!

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Optimum Summer Car Care

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Summer’s almost here!

Summer is coming. While it’s arguably the most fun season of the year, with barbecues and pool parties aplenty, it is also one of the roughest seasons on your car. With summer temperatures in Amarillo running in the upper 80s to 90s, your car or truck will be subjected to a beating from hood to tires.

Extreme temperatures can fade and crack your paint and dashboard and overheat your battery and tires. And the cooling system gets put on very high demand, so it needs to be in excellent shape. When temps can reach up to 200° inside your vehicle, any malfunction that causes your car to break down can put your health and even your life in jeopardy.

The following simple measures are inexpensive and quick ways to make sure your car is ready to face summer.

Inspect and/or Swap Out Your Tires

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Change your tires if needed.

Remove winter tires as soon as winter is over. Winter tires are softer and wear out faster in normal – and especially hot – driving conditions, so replace them with summer tires if your performance car requires two different sets of tires throughout the year. If you have all-weather tires, you should be fine.

Whatever kind of tires you have, it is necessary to check if they’re inflated properly. Get out your tire-pressure gauge and see if they are inflated to manufacturer-recommended levels specified in your owner’s manual or on the door jamb. Underinflated tires can cause a blowout, while overinflated tires are at a higher risk for hydroplaning. Properly inflated tires can increase fuel efficiency up to 3%. Tip: check your tire pressure when your tires are cool and you haven’t driven yet. Hot weather makes the air inside tires expand.

Don’t forget to check tread depth! The easiest way is to place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire, with Lincoln’s head facing down. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32” of the tread remaining (legally, you need 2/32” or more of tread depth).

Important: Check the pressure of your spare – you never know when you might need it, and there’s no point in having a spare if it’s in unusable condition.

Change Your Oil and Filters

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Oil changes are essential to keep your car running optimally.

Since summer is road trip season, optimizing fuel economy will help you save money and maintain your engine’s longevity. Heavy driving and extreme temperatures mean you should look at how your oil is doing no matter what.

Oil and filter changes are the most important steps to making your engine last. Oil changes need to occur somewhere between every 3,000 and 7,500 miles, depending on your car’s make, model, and age. Reference your owner’s manual for the recommended oil change schedule.

If you have an older car, you may have to use a thinner oil in the winter (so oil flows more easily when it’s cold) and a thicker one in the summer (since the heat can thin out oil). Newer cars typically run on synthetic oil or oil suited for year-round use.

Get Your A/C in Shape

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The worst way to find out your A/C isn’t working is in the middle of traffic on a hot summer day. Prevent this horrific scene by checking if your A/C can generate and maintain temperatures 50° F lower than the outside temperature. If your air conditioning is not working up to par, the most likely cause is low levels of refrigerant, which could be due to a leak.

Since the air conditioning system is highly complex, if you have an air conditioning problem we recommend you take your car to 2nd-to-None Service, where we can diagnose and fix the problem.

Important: Was your car built before 1994? If so, we’ll need to check out your refrigerant and determine how to appropriately dispose of or recycle it. Older cars tend to need a recharge before summer starts.

Check Your Air Filter

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Dirty air filter? Change it!

Changing your air filter is an inexpensive way to maximize fuel efficiency. Because Albuquerque frequently gets dusty, air filters can get clogged quickly and may need to be changed more than the recommended service schedule of every 12,000 miles.

How do you know if your air filter needs to be replaced? Just take it out for a quick inspection. If it looks grimy then it has to go.

Keep that Battery Fresh

Just like us, batteries have a tendency to overheat in the summer. When temperatures run too hot, chemical reactions speed up, overcharging the battery. This shortens the battery’s lifespan.

Keep your battery running smoothly by detaching the battery cables and wiping off terminals. Secure all connections.

Is Your A/C A-OK?

Early spring is the perfect time to make sure your air conditioning system is working properly. Who wants to be stuck in a hot car once the temperatures rise, or worse, when you’re taking a summer road trip or vacation? Conducting a periodic under-hood inspection can help you spot A/C issues before they cause you to break a sweat—literally.

Here’s what to look for:

  1. Are A/C component mounting bolts in place and tightly secured?
  2. Are caps installed on the A/C system service ports? This keeps out dirt, and also provides a seal for refrigerant.
  3. With the engine running, does the compressor clutch engage when the A/C is switched on? If it doesn’t, this usually indicates a low (or empty) refrigerant condition, or an electrical problem. Also, listen for rapid clicking or cycling noises at the compressor when the A/C is switched on. If this is happening, it could also indicate low refrigerant or some other problems. A technician here at Aardvark can check it for you.
  4. With the engine running and the A/C switched off, listen for knocking or rumbling sounds in the vicinity of the compressor. These could indicate a failing compressor clutch, and/or loose mounting hardware.
  5. Check all belts for cracks, wear, and glazing. Have them replaced at the first sign of any of these conditions. Also, check for belts that vibrate while the engine is running and the A/C is on. This may indicate a belt that needs to be tightened, or a defective automatic belt tensioner.
  6. Examine all A/C and cooling system hoses for cuts, abrasion, weak spots, and signs of leakage. Leakage from A/C system hoses is often indicated by an accumulation of dirt and oil, particularly at connections and fittings.
  7. Make sure the condenser (in front of the radiator) is free of any obstructions, such as leaves or insects. This could reduce airflow, resulting in reduced A/C performance. You can rinse the condenser clean with a garden hose.

Even when your air conditioning system is working properly, it can still take some time for your car to cool down on a hot day, especially if it’s been sitting in the sun. Open the door for 30 seconds to let out some of the built-up heat. Start your car and turn on the A/C with the fan on high speed and the windows up, closed completely. Leaving the windows down will actually take longer to cool your car’s interior. If you need help with your A/C give us a call!