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Ownership Your Corner Wrench: Is there a cheap way to fix your A/C?

16:53  06 june  2018
16:53  06 june  2018 Source:   driving.ca

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Many of us shudder when we hit the air conditioning switch and nothing but hot air greets us. And most of us have either experienced or heard of the wallet-shocking repair bills that can come from A / C work on our daily drivers. When dealing with an older vehicle, many drivers ask, why bother?

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Many of us shudder when we hit the air conditioning switch and nothing but hot air greets us. And most of us have either experienced or heard of the wallet-shocking repair bills that can come from A/C work on our daily drivers. When dealing with an older vehicle, many drivers ask, why bother? After all, air conditioning isn’t an essential system when it comes to vehicle function or safety, so why not just leaving sleeping dogs lie?

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Owner's manual vs. service adviser: Who's right? The same risks are present with a variety of auto complaints such as a warm- air -blowing air conditioning system, and engine or chassis noises, just to name a few. Your Corner Wrench : Is there a cheap way to fix your A / C ?

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When A/C compressors were driven by a standalone drive belt, more than a few owners simply took a knife to it when given a major estimate for a system repair. Then, they could just close the hood, forget about it and learn to drive with the windows down. But those days are long gone, due to the fact that almost all of today’s vehicles run long serpentine belts that spin not just the A/C compressor, but also the alternator, water and power steering pumps, etc.

Most A/C failures are caused by leaks in any of the myriad of hoses, connectors, valves, and larger units such as the condenser, evaporator, or compressor. But these units don’t just carry refrigerant gas; they also contain trace amounts of specialized lubricant for the internals of the compressor and control valves. This is why you can’t simply turn off the A/C and forget it when you don’t want to pay for a leak repair.

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There’s always a risk that an A/C compressor may seize if the system is leaking. In this case, and when the compressor’s clutch engages, it will throw the drive belt a host of other problems. A/C compressors will engage automatically whenever the heater controls are set to defrost, too. So if your vehicle has a leak you don’t want to fix, and the compressor’s pulley is working fine, simply have your shop disconnect the electrical feed to the clutch so it can never engage the compressor again.

When it comes to a pulley problem, that can be a little more interesting. For vehicles that were built with and without A/C, it’s often easy to simply buy a shorter drive belt and maybe another bracket and pulley, and have things set up with the A/C compressor completely removed. But some vehicles never came without air conditioning; for those, often the aftermarket has solutions such as dummy pulley/brackets that allow the original belt and belt routing to be used.

Some of the most expensive A/C repair estimates come for vehicles with rear heating and cooling systems. Often, the long lines that carry gas to the rear units get punctured by road debris and the costs of just these lines alone can be staggering. An easy and relatively cheap alternative is to have a shop cap off the rear A/C lines, leaving the front system fully functional. Line caps require specialized tools to install, but most shops that do A/C repairs have them.

For engines and transmissions, when do you repair or replace? .
It takes an expert eye and common sense when dealing with these major and complex componentsBut what about the big two items under the hood; engines and transmissions? When is it time to draw the line between repairing and replacing? The first battle is finding a shop/tech that can do both. Engine rebuild specialists for mainstream vehicles seem to be an endangered species. Fortunately for automatic transmissions, the situation isn’t nearly as dire, but few small independent shops have the specialized tools and technician skill-base to complete gearbox overhauls.

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