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Troubleshooting: Leaking Air Conditioner in Your Car

Nissan Engine

During warmer weather you may begin to notice a trail of liquid on the pavement underneath your recently parked car. On closer inspection, you’ll discover water released as harmless condensation dripping from the air conditioner’s cooling coils. Identifying an actual AC leak can be difficult as the refrigerant found in your car is released only as a colorless and odorless gas. Here’s how to identify air conditioning system problems, including a leaking air conditioner, and the steps required to fix them.

Identify and Fix Problems

When your car’s AC system needs attention and has potentially stopped working, take the following three steps in order to get to the bottom of things:

1. Check the fuse box.Car Fuse Box Something as simple as a blown fuse can shut down your AC system. Locate the appropriate fuse associated with the AC system, and if it’s blown you can replace it. As long as cold air is flowing after that, then you’re good to go.

2. Examine the vents and cabin filter. Determine whether the air vents are open and unclogged, as shut or blocked vents will impede air flow. Another possible impediment is the cabin air filter. Locate, clean or replace the filter if it’s clogged.

3. Look under the hood. Examine the AC system for signs of damage. Any part associated with that system can cause it to stop working. These include: a malfunctioning switch, a burnt out relay, a failed compressor, a damaged cooling fan, a clogged tube, frayed wires or problems with the condenser or evaporator. For most people, diagnosis and repairs are best left to the professionals. Take your car to a service technician if you don’t have the tools, talent or time to get the job done.

Repair Considerations

If you’re not comfortable working with your car’s AC system or if the problem is more complex than outlined here, then take your car to your local NAPA AutoCare Center. Your mechanic will add a special dye to get more information on your leaking air conditioner. When illuminated by an ultraviolet light, AC leaks can more easily be found and the proper repairs can be made.

Check out all the air conditioning system parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on leaking air conditioner, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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