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Four Signs of Automotive Air Conditioning Problems

Updated on October 19, 2019
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Seth Morgan is a contractor and former mechanic based out of Maine. He has taken up gardening and landscaping as a hobby.

A broken air conditioner in your car can leave you sweltering.
A broken air conditioner in your car can leave you sweltering. | Source

Your air conditioner is arguably one of the most important parts under your car’s hood, as it is the only thing that keeps your vehicle comfortable to drive throughout the summer months – or year round, depending on your climate. Knowing the four most common symptoms of a damaged or malfunctioning air conditioning system in your car makes it much easier for you to determine when you should head to a mechanic to have your system inspected and repaired.

Water Damage and Leaks

One of the most common signs that your car’s air conditioning system is in need of professional attention is if you notice that there is water dripping from underneath your dashboard, or there are water stains on the carpeting or nearby upholstery. This can indicate that your air conditioning system’s condensate drain line is clogged with debris, which can happen normally over time as dirt and other contaminants build up. It’s usually a quick and inexpensive fix to clear out.

No Air

If you find that your air conditioner is not pushing air of the vents in your car at all, it most often indicates that there is something wrong with your fan or with your air filter. A clogged air filter that has not been cleaned or replaced in a long while will restrict the flow of air into your system, resulting in very little or no air flow inside your car. A blown out motor in your fan means that you may notice that your vents and the area immediately around them are cold, but there is no air being pushed throughout your car’s interior.

Lack of Cooling

A car air conditioning system that is no longer blowing cold air through the vents of your vehicle can indicate that your system’s refrigerant has leaked. This happens when a hose or a seal becomes damaged, creating a leak and turning your air conditioner into a glorified fan. This will require a professional to locate the source of the leak and replace the offending component, and then refill your system’s refrigerant.

Grinding or Loud Noises

Finally, the last thing that you should always be conscious of is the sound that your air conditioner makes when you turn it on. While a certain, small amount of ambient noise is normal since the fan is blowing air around, any sort of grinding or other irregular noises that sound like metal rubbing against metal can indicate that something with your air conditioner has broken. Avoid running the system at all, as grinding components can cause additional damage and make your repair bill substantially larger as a result.


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