Automotive air conditioning

Automotive air conditioning is a method of lowering the temperature of your car using refrigerant through pressure and heat changes. So it works in an almost similar fashion to a refrigeration cycle using refrigerant as the liquid carrying heat changing state from liquid to gas upon absorbing heat and reverting back to liquid upon dissipating this heat. The refrigerant circulates the AC system which is made of various components the major components being the compressor, the condenser, the receiver, the expansion valve and the evaporator. When you turn on the AC in your car the compressor compresses the refrigerant and it absorbs heat altering its state from liquid to gas. The refrigerant gas then goes through the other components and by the time it reaches the evaporator it is really cold and is it in its liquid state having passed through the dryer and having all the moisture and contaminants absorbed. Then the liquid refrigerant is taken back to the compressor to repeat the entire process to keep you cool in your vehicle over the period of time you have selected.

When the AC was first made they used the R-12 type of refrigerant but recent studies have shown it is harmful to the ozone layer and has since been replaced with the less efficient though environmentally safer R-134a. For the new car models they are already fitted with the R-134a but if you have an older car model your technician will easily replace the R-12 with the R-134a.

The auto air conditioner parts all play a specific role and no one part can function without the other components. To help you understand the AC jargon is the role of each part:

  • Compressor: It is the central part of the AC system and is responsible for compressing the refrigerant so it can later on cool the air
  • Condenser: It is found at the front of the car next to the radiator. It cools the hot gas from the compressor and the refrigerant gas turns to liquid and can sometimes be fitted with an electrical fan
  • Evaporator: It is found just opposite the condenser and forces air to come into contact with the cool refrigerant to keep you cool and sometimes as the refrigerant becomes warmer it changes from liquid to gas
  • Thermal Expansion Valve: This valve is responsible for controlling how cool the air you get in your vehicle is so it is not too cold but remains cool
  • Drier or Accumulator: The role of this component is to absorb moisture and remove contaminants that could possibly make it back to the compressor and cause damage to it forcing you to replace it. It does this by having a desiccant to absorb the water or moisture and having filters to trap contaminants
  • Basically automotive air conditioning is not too complex and can last for years if used correctly and with regular maintenance checks by repair service companies to prevent damage to the components that make up the AC.