Annual maintenance on your automobile’s air conditioning system can often help to prevent premature failure. Various components are prone to failure on different vehicles and can’t be prevented, but in many cases, early detection of faults can limit the damage. For example, a small leak in a hose or condenser may be inexpensive to repair before the system becomes empty but can become a major expense if let go long enough to empty the system, which in turn can allow moisture to enter the system, requiring replacement of the dryer assembly and possibly damaging the compressor.
Annual maintenance should include a thorough inspection of all components, operating pressures, controls and a leak test. Belts should be checked and adjusted if necessary. Condenser and radiator cooling fins should be inspected and, if necessary, cleaned. The evaporator drain should also be checked for restrictions and cleared if needed. Engine mounts should be checked to ensure that the engine doesn’t tip too much when under load, as this could stress hoses and lines, eventually causing them to leak or break.
In addition to the AC system itself, air quality is of utmost importance. As humid air passes through the evaporator coils, moisture is removed and collects in the evaporator housing, even with good drainage. This creates a breeding ground for mould and bacteria which end up in the air we breathe as it circulates through the passenger compartment. Most modern vehicles are equipped with cabin air filters which should be replaced annually, along with treatments to clean and disinfect the entire HVAC system as well as the entire interior of the vehicle.
If you have an older vehicle (before 1994), retrofitting your R12 system to the newer R134a refrigerant (used on all new vehicles manufactured up umtil recently) can be a costly endeavour, and the thinner molecular structure of R134a may leave your system susceptible to leaks after the retrofit. As a less costly alternative, AML has been using Duracool®, a hydrocarbon refrigerant, with great success. It is compatible with all R12 and R134a systems and does not require the addition of any special oil or components, making it ideal as a substitute after performing repairs. It is also considered to be less harmful to the environment and is not an ozone-depleting substance.