You probably drive in all kinds of weather, hot and sunny to chilly to downright frigid. So, you probably know just how important a comfortable cabin can be for the ride. Your heater and AC system -- your climate control system, for short -- maintain that temperature best.
How car heating and air conditioning works isn't complicated. Heaters work somewhat like radiators. They send hot coolant through a core, over which a fan blows, and the resulting warm air blows into your cabin. Air conditioners work using several parts, including a compressor, a condenser, an expansion valve, and an evaporator. Refrigerant gets turned into a hot gas, then cooled back into a liquid, then transformed into a low-pressure gas, and finally, it's chilled further. Colder air then flows through the system's ducts and out its vents.
Sooner or later, though, car HVAC systems can stop working right. Luckily, there are signs they're going out. Look for the following:
- A sweet coolant smell
- A steamy cabin
- Worn-out parts
- A system that doesn't cool or heat well.
The causes of car heating and AC problems range from heater core leaks and refrigerant leaks to low refrigerant levels. If you're seeing any such symptoms, it might be time for a repair.
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