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What Exactly *IS* An AC Service? Let’s Ask Andy!

Andy VegaAs the hot, humid months of July and August loom, it’s time to start thinking about how to stay cool this summer! While we have no control over the outside temperature, we do have options for keeping things cool inside of our homes and cars. Home air conditioning service can run into the thousands of dollars, but recharging the under- or non-performing air conditioning system in your vehicle is reasonably affordable and may be as easy as making an appointment with the Hershey Motors Service Department.

But it got me wondering – what exactly is happening when your air conditioning system is “recharged”? It’s not a battery, after all, so what precisely is the service I’m paying for? I didn’t know either, so I decided to “Ask Andy”.

AC Machine - Service  (4)Andy showed me the machine we use, a Robin-Air Cool-Tech 34788, and explained a little bit about what it does once it’s hooked up to your car. The first step your technician will take is to do a visual inspection of your AC system, primarily looking for leaks. The underside of your car takes a beating, with tiny pebbles and other debris shooting up from the road into the mechanical parts of your car. Over time this can create tiny holes in the hosing that carries the refrigerant through the system.

The second step is to hook your vehicle up to the machine and check to see if it has any refrigerant. If not, it would certainly explain why you aren’t getting cold air into your cabin! After that, the technician will evacuate all of the old refrigerant. Once the old refrigerant is out, he will “pull a vacuum” on the system to remove moisture and run a leak test. Completely removing all of the moisture in the lines is an important step in the process and one that simply cannot be duplicated by the at-home AC service kits.

drinking strawBut what’s the big deal about leaks? I wondered. The AC still works, after all. But have you ever tried to drink soda from a straw that has a hole in it? Even if the hole is small and there is only one, the vacuum will be compromised and, while the soda will still make its way up the straw, it will be slower and more sluggish. Your AC system is similar, and the more leaks you have and the larger they are, the more inefficiently your AC will run. So your system may still “work”, but at a reduced capacity. In other words, you’ll be spending more money to power your AC and be getting less cold air out of it while putting an additional strain on the system. Those small leaks can also slowly deplete your refrigerant, and gradually over time, you’ll begin to notice that your AC just isn’t all that cold. And that will be a real bummer in July and August!

AC Machine - Service  (8)This process will also remove contaminants from the lines of your AC system. In addition to compromising the strength of your system and depleting your refrigerant, those tiny holes also allow bits of dirt and debris into your lines. These contaminants can create a drain on your system, causing it to work harder and produce fewer results. Cleaning the gunk out of those lines maximizes efficiency and allows colder air to be delivered faster.

Once your technician has repaired any leaks and removed the old refrigerant, he will add the proper amount of new refrigerant. To your AC system, this will feel like a cool dip in a refreshing swimming pool on a hot summer day! He will also add stop leak and UV dye to your system. The stop leak will help to seal up very small holes that may develop in the future and the UV dye will make it easier to find larger leaks should you need to bring your car in for service again. This will improve the effectiveness of your air conditioning system not only in the short term, but for the long haul.

Finally, he will charge your system with the proper amount of refrigerant, using the machine (which is calibrated regularly) to put precisely the right amount of refrigerant into your system. Again, this is a near impossible task with at-home kits, which often have ineffective gauges and may result in you over- or under-charging your system, causing it once again to run inefficiently. He will then do a final check of your system’s performance and hopefully have your vehicle’s cabin icy cold for the remainder of the hot summer days!

For the month of July, Hershey Motors is offering a 15% discount on any AC service! You can print the ad from our website or mention it to your service writer to receive the discount. If you’d like to learn more or to find out more about costs associated with the service, please contact our service department at 610-857-5283 or feel free to schedule an appointment online and ensure that your summer road trips are all about the fun, and not about the sweat!

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One comment on “What Exactly *IS* An AC Service? Let’s Ask Andy!

  1. Pingback: Ask Andy: Preventative Maintenance by the Numbers – An Easy Guide to Basic Car Care | Hershey Motors Blog

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2015 by in Ask Andy and tagged , , , , .
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