4 Common Misconceptions about A/C Systems

Vehicles today are packed with more technology, more features, and more convenience than ever before. However, no feature is more important on a hot summer’s day than having a properly working A/C system. 

As vehicles have gotten more sophisticated, so have their air conditioning systems. This has required our shop to keep up with continued training and new equipment. However, there are a few old myths and misconceptions that continue to persist in the mind of most motorists. Here’s a list of the 4 most common we come across:

“I just need a top off.”

The air conditioning on a vehicle is a closed system. Unless a leak develops, there is never a need to refill it. This isn’t the case with engine oil and a few other fluids on the vehicle. However, the logic doesn’t apply to refrigerant. If the system needs to be refilled, a leak has developed and it will need to be identified and fixed. 

“Can you just add some stop leak?”

Sealants can cause irreparable damage to the A/C system and should never be used. The compressor pictured to the left was filled with sealant, causing it to fail. A/C systems require clear passages to work properly. Sealants, by their very nature, can clog these passages. 

“Can you just replace the one part?”

Replacing just one component in an A/C system is only possible in a few circumstances. Most of the time, the failure of one part will require a completely new system to be installed. This is due to the sensitive nature of the system and the way it operates. If one component fails, it can easily cause damage to other components requiring replacement of the entire system.

“Can I use that stuff they sell at Walmart?”

15 years ago, A/C system often held 2 pounds or more of refrigerant. These larger capacity systems would work with lower levels of refrigerant. As the systems got smaller and more efficient, manufacturers starting using less and less refrigerant. Many vehicles today hold less than 16 oz! Without a calibrated machine to precisely fill the system, adding refrigerant using a can and a hose with a trigger can easily overfill the system. This can keep the system from working properly or even cause very expensive damage.

Written by David Roman