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A/C coolant leaks detection

Car air conditioning regulates the temperature inside the car making any car ride as comfortable as possible

Finding an A/C leak in your air conditioner can be required in different situations. This is a common service that requires the use of special equipment and experience.

A/C leak is arguably the most frequent problem one might experience when driving a car with climate control air-conditioning. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely prevent any leakage in A/C unit due to the specific way the A/C compressor works. A/C loses 3.5 ounces of refrigerant per year. All you have to do is get one recharge every 2-3 years. However, if you notice you have to do more frequently it’s to take a closer look.

Why A/C leaks happen

Gas used in A/C now is usually R134a refrigerant. It circulates in the system while making your car cooler. But then A/C leaks and you have to find professional mechanics to detect them.

There are several reasons why the A/C is leaking:

  • Loosening of joints
  • Expansion valve wear/tear
  • Rubber hoses wear/tear

It is quite challenging to find leaks in modern cars since there are no obvious places where you can see it. If you have to recharge your A/C too often it’s a problem. And to fix that problem you must do a certain test.

How to know if your AC is leaking

Here are the most common signs that your air-conditioning is leaking

  1. A/C cools off or warms up much slower. There’s a little caveat here as malfunctioning compressor can also affect how well the whole system works
  2. Freezing on the condenser and the fan. It can be caused by a low level of charge in the A/C 
  3. Apparent oil leaks at the joints. Most likely a sign of damaged hose, when there’s an oil leak along with the A/C leak.

A/c leak detection

The most obvious sign of the undergoing leak is the performance drop  - the A/C works and blows air but it doesn’t cool down the car. In order to find the leak you need to check the following:

  • All hoses along the line
  • Pressure sensors
  • Evaporator and blower joints
  • Condenser and fan hoses
  • Compressor seals and valves

It is impossible to perform quality inspection of the AC without specific tools. To weld cracks in aluminum tubes, you will need argon welding or special solder. Electronic leak detectors or a UV lamp are most commonly used to pinpoint leak locations. 

  1.  A leak detector is an electronic leak detection equipment that detects even microscopic refrigerant vapors in the atmosphere. Leak detection is carried out in a well-ventilated area without drafts. The system must be recharged beforehand. The test starts from the highest point, gradually going down.
  2. To check for leaks with a UV lamp, you must first mix a special UV liquid into refrigerant, which begins to glow under ultraviolet light. The dye dissolves in oil and remains in the system after a full refill. In the event of a leak, the glow makes it easy to find the place of depressurization by turning on the ultraviolet lamp.

After detecting the leaks the mechanics take measures to eliminate them - weld cracks in the tubes and treat them with an anti-corrosion compound, change seals, etc.


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