South Florida's Premier European Auto Repair, Performance & Race Facility Since 1978
Foreign Affirs Motorsport
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Foreign Affairs Motorsport
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A Comprehensive Vehicle AC Service Guide

vehicle ac service

It’s been a long day at the office and the South Florida summer is at its best, sticky. At least you’ll be able to enjoy the cool comfort of your vehicle AC on the ride home. After five minutes of driving the realization dawns: this is definitely not your lucky day. Glaring at the little AC light while dripping sweat isn’t going to help; you need to schedule vehicle ac service.

The AC is an often-overlooked system in a vehicle; they should just work, right? If only life were that simple. Let’s take a closer look at the different components of an auto AC system, what can go wrong and how to fix it.

Refrigerant Gas

Basically, the lifeblood of an AC system. The refrigerant is responsible for transferring heat from the inside of the cabin to the outside of the car.

The Environment Computer monitors the pressure of the gas in the system. If it drops below a certain level, it will deactivate the compressor to prevent it from being damaged. While the AC is a ‘closed system,’ the gas does gradually escape over time.

Now, if your vehicle is over the five year mark, we suggest you pop in to have the AC gas pressure serviced. Another hack to maintain the gas pressure is to circulate it at least once during the winter months. Yeah, nobody likes to have to run the AC during the cooler months. However, just 10 minutes or so should propagate the gas through the system and save you a nasty surprise during the hotter months.


In order to move the heat from the inside of the car to the outside, your vehicle air conditioning needs to compress the refrigerant. This is done by a compressor which is usually driven from a belt off the engine. Compressors don’t easily fail, rather they tend to start leaking. In most cases it isn’t worth repairing the compressor; it simply gets replaced. Be forewarned though, this is quite an expensive exercise.

Condenser and Evaporator

Ever seen a good old heating radiator? Well, these two are exactly the sort of thing.

The evaporator goes inside the car, and allows the pressurized gas to expand, cooling the interior. The condenser on the other hand, cools the hot expanded gas before it is compressed again. Just like radiators, very little can go wrong with them unless they begin to leak.

In the case of the evaporator, this is often when it gets too cold and ices up. This puts stress on the tubes causing them to crack. The only cure is replacement. Replacing the condenser is easy, and there are good quality US manufactured aftermarket ones to be had at a reasonable price.

Evaporators are trickier. Manufacturer specific, they fit into the vehicle’s interior and like the heater core often need the whole front of the car stripped to replace. An easy way to check for a damaged evaporator is to look at the water dripping under the car when the AC is on. If there is oil mixed in with it, it is likely that the evaporator has a leak.

The Environment Computer

Just like behind every good man is a good woman; so, behind every good system is a computer in the 21st century. Your vehicle ac is no different. On climate-controlled systems an environment computer monitors the cabin and outside temperatures. It then switches the AC compressor on as needed to provide just the right amount of cooling. It also talks backwards and forwards with the ECM (engine control module) as sometimes the AC system gets switched off to reduce load on the engine.

Yes, it’s fair to say that the Environment Computer does a lot of multi-tasking. However, this also makes it a tricky part of your vehicle AC to diagnose and service. We suggest leaving this one to the experts.

Vehicle AC Service in Pompano Beach

Congratulations on coming with your favorite auto mechanic as we went from zero to hero and back again going over your vehicle’s AC system. As you can see, there is much more to it than meets the eye. That is why our over 30 years of experience at Foreign Affairs Motorwerks are there to keep you cool as a cucumber. Call us today at (954) 746-0488 to schedule an appointment with one of our ASE certified mechanics! 

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