Why is My AC Running But Not Cooling in My Car?

air conditioner controls inside a car

Got AC Issues?

The state of California is concerned with all things environmental, but when the summer gets hot, you can be certain the air conditioners are going! And when the air conditioner isn’t working, the need for home and car AC repair service business gets booked up fast.  So, busy in fact, many people are trying DIY car AC repair because they can’t get an appointment, and the cost factor too. 

How much does it cost to check the AC in a car?

In California, you pay up to $300 for a professional diagnosis and inspection of your car’s air conditioning system. This includes the following components are checked: 

  • Belts
  • Connections
  • Hoses
  • Pressure lines

The technician will check for leaks and add removing all existing refrigerant before adding new refrigerant, which can cost an additional $150 to $250, depending on how many pounds are needed. If any additional car AC repairs are needed, like new belts, connections, or hoses, there will be additional costs.

Why is my car AC blowing cool air but not cold?       

If you have your car air conditioning set at max cool with the fan blowing high, but the air isn’t cold, check the following: 

  • Are the condenser or radiator cooling fans running while the AC is on?
  • Is there debris, leaves, bugs, or other articles blocking the condenser?
  • Check the cabin air filter isn’t clogged.

If all of this is in proper order, you can do your own pressure check if you have the equipment needed or schedule an appointment with your mechanic. This requires specialized car AC repair gauges and tools that check the high side and the low side pressure of the AC system. 

Most car AC repairs are for leaks within the air conditioning system, typically indicated by low pressure reading on the gauge.  Leaks are common around the connections and fittings, compressor hoses, O-rings, pressure switches, and seals. A hose could be crimped or the developed pinholes. 

Does car AC refrigerant run out and keep my car AC from blowing cold air? 

No, the refrigerant gas in your car’s air conditioning system doesn’t get ‘used up’ or ‘wear out’ like the motor oil and gasoline. If the air conditioning system is properly sealed, it shouldn’t ever ‘run out’ or be used up. 

It is common for most drivers to assume this is how the coolant or refrigerant works in their car’s air-conditioning system. But, as we just stated, if the system is properly sealed, the air conditioner can cool for years without any refrigerant being added. 

Yes, if the air-conditioning system in your car is losing the compressed refrigerant, it will keep the system from blowing cold air. The refrigerant gas of “Freon” is turned into a liquid as it goes through the system. It then releases the gas through the evaporator coil and then expands as the gas chills there, drawing heat from the air as it passes over. That chilled air then blows through the air-conditioner vents and keeps you cool.

So, if the system has leaked the refrigerant, your car will be filled with warm to hot air. When this happens, take your car in for professional car AC repairs. It could be an issue with the pressured lines or a leak in a hose. 

Why did my car AC suddenly stop working?

If your car’s AC just quit working all of the sudden, it is probably an electrical problem. It could be a blown fuse, the control module is malfunctioning, or the switches failed. A professional car AC repair shop can diagnose the problem and get your car cooling again. 

How do I know if my car AC compressor is bad?

If you are noticing any of the following, you need to schedule an appointment with your mechanic for car AC repair service before the compressor totally quits: 

  • Odd Noises: Odd, strange noises when the air conditioner is turned on are typically coming from the compressor. This component is a vital part of your car’s air conditioning system and if it is making grinding or whining sounds, the internal bearings are going bad. 
  • Hot Air: If your car’s AC isn’t blowing cold air through the vents, it is out of refrigerant and that is probably because the compressor has leaked it all out. As soon as the air is feeling warm from the AC, schedule a car AC repair appointment and have it checked. 
  • Leaking Fluid: The air-conditioning system in your car should not have any leaking fluid. This is an indicator that the internal bearings of the compressor are not doing their job, probably because they are worn out. 
  • Clutch Stuck: Your car’s AC compressor has a clutch as a manual transmission does, and it pulls power from the engine to make the AC work. If that clutch malfunctions or stops working, the compressor quits working too.

Can I just replace my car AC compressor?

Yes, a compressor can be replaced without having to replace the entire air conditioning system, but it is recommended to this be done by a professional car AC repair service center. A car AC system is under pressure, and it can be dangerous if you aren’t equipped with the proper tools and follow the proper procedure. 

Should I replace my car AC condenser?

If the compressor to your car air conditioning system has gone out, a professional car AC repair service center will typically recommend replacing the condenser too. If the condenser is leaking, it should be replaced, but the compressor may not need replacing at that time. 

car being checked for air conditioning  refrigerant issues

In Closing 

Because of the strict guidelines of California, having a professional car AC repair center do any work needed for your car’s air conditioner is recommended.  State emission testing can be difficult to pass and taking unnecessary chances with DIY car AC repair may not be worthwhile.