5 warning signs that your car's AC may need some help

August 4, 2015 02:59 PM

The full brunt of summer is upon us, and that means drivers across the country are cranking up their air conditioning the moment they get behind the wheel. Cold AC is one of the biggest perks of any vehicle, but it certainly has that "you won't miss it until it's gone" quality. 

With that in mind, you should be on the lookout for signs that there are some AC problems lurking behind your dash, so you don't get caught in 90 degree heat with no relief in sight. To shed some light on the problems that are worthy of a trip to your preferred auto repair shop, here are five common AC warning signs:

"A lack of AC can mean one of several problems."

1. No air conditioning
The first warning sign is the most obvious: no AC. If you turn on your car, turn up the air and get a whole lot of nothing out of the vents - or warm or hot air - you could have a problem with your HVAC system. This could be one of several issues. First, you may just be out of refrigerant. Or, you could have damaged cooling fans or even something simpler, like vents or an AC unit clogged with leaves or other debris. Thankfully, a trip to the auto repair shop can quickly diagnose the problem.

2. Weird noises
Behind non-functioning air conditioning, the next easiest warning sign to spot is weird noises. Say you turn on your AC, but you start to hear banging, rattling or worse? What could the problem be? Like with the first problem, leaves or debris could be clogging up your unit, causing those noises. Or, a major part itself could be worn out and about to break. Once you start to hear some weird noises coming from your car, bring it in to a professional for a diagnosis.

3. Nasty smells
Third on the list is nasty smells. Turning on your AC shouldn't be an unpleasant experience, but sometimes, foul odors start to come out of your vents. This could be a big warning sign of mold growth in your air conditioning unit itself. A bad smell should be taken care of immediately, since mold can lead to respiratory problems and other health concerns.

Air conditioning is a major plus during the summer months.Air conditioning is a major plus during the summer months.

4. Water stains
After running your air conditioning for a while, you will see water drain out from the bottom of your car. This is perfectly normal and a good sign. However, if you don't see that water draining - and instead are greeted by water stains inside your vehicle - then you could have a problem. Sometimes, the drain on the bottom of your car becomes damaged or clogged, so that water backs up. It will then flow into your vehicle itself, typically pooling under the dash and near the front floor mats. If this is the case, bring it in to your repair shop soon.

5. AC leaks
The fifth and final warning sign is the air conditioning leak. Low pressure in your AC unit can be a sign of a leak, as can the actual coolant draining around your vehicle. Even so, most leaks are small and hard to spot. The smartest bet is to add a dye to your air conditioner, and then trace that dye to the source of the leak. This is easiest when completed by a professional, however, so if you suspect a leak, come in for some auto air conditioning repair work as soon as possible. Leaks can lead to other, more serious problems down the line.

These are just five common warning signs of air conditioner problems. There are others, though, and should you have any questions or concerns the best course of action is to always consult a professional.

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