With summer approaching, it is once again time to start thinking about the A/C in your truck. When you move those dials, hopefully the A/C compressor engages and the air streaming from the dash vents feels cold. Unfortunately, the compressor may not be up to the job, may not engage at all, or may deliver less than what you want.
On top of that, a compressor that is not operating correctly is more likely than not, suffering a long slow death from lack of refrigerant that must be returned from the cold side of your A/C system. By focusing on any critical maintenance before the summer heat sets in will help ensure a cold A/C system and long compressor life. There are a number of important components and/or systems that need to be in good working order: the cabin filter, refrigerant level, condenser and cab duct/bend air doors.
Many times, the cab filters are not maintained correctly, because they have no gauge and typically are not visible. If a truck’s cabin filter is dirty, the A/C system will likely freeze up and prevent needed refrigerant from reaching the compressor. This can be extremely harmful. At the start of a new A/C season, check your filter and replace it, if need be. If you are traveling in dusty or dirty climates, it is recommended to service your cabin filter more often.
Most trucks today use R134a refrigerant and this type of new refrigerant makes the modern A/C system more prone to leaks than the older systems. Unfortunately the refrigerant charge must be monitored and maintained carefully. Because of this, truck manufacturers have reduced the amount of refrigerant, making even a small leak a big problem.
The condenser mounted in front of the radiator must be clean and the airflow must be able to hold a dollar bill in place against the front of the condenser. Anything that could restrict airflow must be removed. When airflow is restricted, heat remains in the refrigerant and eventually reaches the compressor, making way for its slow death. It’s important to use a mild cleaning agent. Even a small amount of dust, that is almost invisible to the eye, will reduce condenser efficiency.
Lastly, most new trucks have A/C systems controlled by one or more computers. One system that the computers must control correctly is the directional doors inside the dash and floor panels that direct the airflow to the designated location. The older model trucks use a blend-air system that allows the heater and air conditioner to run at the same time. This allows the heater and air conditioner to work together to give you the correct temperature. Nowadays, computers control the temperature.
Remember, to service that filter, have your refrigerant level checked, identify and repair leaks, clean the condenser and recalibrate the blend-air doors.