Stay Cool With an AC Tune Up from Mount Airy Toyota
The heat of summer can do a number on your car, and at Mount Airy Toyota we know that higher temperatures outside mean a greater demand for nice, cool air conditioning inside. While every service appointment includes a multi-point inspection, chances are that you will be the one to notice if your AC isn’t working like it should.
The first automotive air conditioning was invented in 1939 and was offered as a factory-installed option in 1940. It took almost 30 years though for air conditioning to really catch on — by 1969 only half of all new cars sold had it. We hope some of the folks in Mount Airy had one of the few cars with air conditioning back in July 1954 when the local weather station off Bluff Road measured the Surry County’s highest temperature on record at 105 degrees. The highest temperature ever recorded in the month of August was 103 degrees in 1930, according to the North Carolina Climate Office.
You may remember air conditioning units once used freon. Researchers found that the refrigerant damaged the ozone, and consequently it was banned from use in all cars made after 1996. However, air conditioning still works essentially the same way by using refrigerant in gaseous and liquid forms to cool the air and remove humidity.
There are three main parts to a typical vehicle’s air conditioning: the compressor, condenser, and evaporator.
Compressor: A belt attached to the engine’s crankshaft drives the compresser, which is a pump. The pump draws in gaseous refrigerant and forces it out to the condenser.
Condenser: As the refrigerant moves from the compressor to the condenser it passes through a small reservoir containing desiccants. You’ve probably seen little packets of desiccants in new shoe boxes or purses. The desiccant does the same thing it does in that shoe box or purse — removes moisture. The refrigerant then enters the condenser as a pressurized gas, which creates heat. Air flowing around the twisting tubes of the condenser cools the refrigerant down until it forms a liquid again.
Evaporator: The evaporator is located inside your vehicle’s cabin rather than the engine compartment. Liquid refrigerant enters the evaporator and the heat of the car turns it back into a gas. A fan blows over the evaporator coil, blowing cool air into the car.
Note that hybrid vehicles do not operate quite the same way as traditional vehicles. Those like the hybrid Avalon, Camry, Highlander, Mirai, Prius and RAV4 (yep, there are hybrid versions of the Highlander and RAV4) use an electric compressor that relies on power from car’s high-voltage battery. Never try to work on a hybrid vehicle’s air conditioning without training! (And speaking of the Prius, if you haven’t seen the new 2018 Prius Prime, you really should. It has a 640-mile total driving range and you can charge it at home with a standard outlet.)
While it will take any car some time to cool down after being parked in the hot sun, you should pay attention to whether or not your AC is coming out cold and fast. Do you notice that cold air isn’t coming out of the vents with much force? Is the air not very cold at all?
If you notice one of these problems, schedule a service appointment to have your air conditioning checked. You may also want to take us up on one of our service center coupons which may include discounts on oil changes, batteries, tire rotation, and touch-up paint. You can reach our service department at 336.786.2118 and find us at 508 N. Andy Griffith Pkwy. in Mount Airy, N.C.