Having your minivan's air conditioning go out suddenly can ruin your day significantly. There are several causes of damaged air conditioning—the most common are leaks and compressor issues.
You likely have a clogged filter if the air is blowing out cool but not cold, but this could also be due to cooling fan problems or radiator issues that affect your air conditioning. In some cases, it could simply be a sign that you need to recharge your AC.
When your minivan is experiencing AC problems, you don't have to tolerate a stuffy and uncomfortable car. You also don't have to seek the help of professionals to fix this problem unless you have no alternative. Perhaps, the hardest part of identifying the right fix is knowing where to start.
This guide discusses three things you can check before going professional. You can use them to diagnose the specific air conditioning problem in your vehicle. This will go a long way in saving you cash and preventing unnecessary expenses.
Is the Air Conditioner Cool?
If your minivan's air conditioner has been set to max cool and fans are running at a high speed, it should produce cold air. However, if it produces cool air, there could be several problems with it. Luckily, you can fix these problems in a number of ways.
Start by checking to ensure that the cooling fans on the radiator or condenser are running when the air conditioning is on. This will determine whether the AC has a problem or you just haven't switched it on.
You should look for any restrictions like bugs, leaves, or dirt that could keep air from passing over the condenser. The presence of these restrictions could affect your minivan's air conditioner and prevent it from functioning properly.
You should also check the cabin air filter to ensure that it's not clogged. As you might know, the air filter helps supply air throughout the conditioner. This means that when it is clogged, you will not enjoy the cold air.
After doing that, the next step is always checking the pressure in the system using a specialized manifold gauge set. You can find the recommended low-side and high-side pressures in your minivan's repair manual or online. Once you have hooked up the gauges, go to the next step, which involves checking the AC compressor.
Evaluate the AC Compressor
When evaluating the air conditioner, the best place to start is the compressor. There are several steps you must follow to make this possible. With the engine running, turn the air conditioner to max cool.
You should then set the fans high and ensure that the clutch is engaging on the compressor. Keep in mind that this is not the pulley but the centerpiece that engages the pulley to the air compressors.
If the clutch keeps engaging and disengaging once after a few seconds, it could be due to low refrigerant. In that case, you will see the low-side pressure on your AC gauge drop rapidly when you engage the clutch. Hit a point of too-low pressure, then disengage the actual pressure.
As you gradually introduce more refrigerant, the gauge will hold steady. This happens as the compressor runs, holding the recommended amount of pressure. If the clutch doesn't engage and the system has refrigerant, you should use a voltmeter to check for voltage getting to the compressor. In that case, you might have a faulty clutch.
There are several problems associated with minivan AC. Leaks in one or more seals or the compressor itself can result in significant damage. In addition, particle contamination from worn-out parts inside the compressor tends to occur on a regular basis. The AC clutch, also known as the engagement clutch, can also fail to work, rendering the compressor inoperative.
If the refrigerant is low, you should check it for visible system leaks that appear oily or green. Failing the internal components caused by normal wear or insufficient AC oil levels can also result in these problems.
For that reason, you should always check your minivan's oil levels to ensure they are optimal. This is because oil helps keep the compressor steady and prevents rusting.