How a Vehicle’s Air Conditioning System Works

Sun Devil Auto Expert, published on 12/25/2013
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It won’t be long until the mercury begins to rise and those summer temperatures hit 100+ degrees. This is the time of year where we really rely on our vehicle’s air conditioning to keep us cool. Have you ever wondered what takes that 110 degree heat and converts your car’s air into what seems like an Arctic zone? 

There are five main elements comprised of your vehicle’s air conditioning system which include: the compressor, condenser, receiver-dryer, expansion valve or orifice tube (depending on the type of vehicle), and the evaporator.

There is a fluid that passes through the entire system called refrigerant that evaporates at a low temperature, and then condenses again at a higher pressure. Older vehicles may use R-12 or Freon as a refrigerant, however, most vehicles produced after 1996 require R-134A. 

The compressor is the hardest working element in you’re A/C system, powered by a drive belt connected to the crankshaft of the engine. When the system is turned on, the compressor forces refrigerant vapor under high pressure to the condenser. 

The condenser is located in front of the engine’s radiator and is used to change the high-pressure refrigerant vapor to a liquid. The vapor is condensed to a liquid because of the force that is driving it in, which generates heat. The heat is then removed from the condenser by air flowing through the condenser on the outside. 

Then, the now liquid refrigerant moves to the receiver-dryer, a reservoir for the liquid refrigerant which removes any moisture that may have leaked into the refrigerant. Moisture in the system can be detrimental by causing ice crystals resulting in blockages and other damage. 

The pressurized refrigerant flows into the orifice tube or expansion valve, which controls the amount of refrigerant entering the evaporator.

The evaporator vaporizes and absorbs heat from the air in the passenger area. The blower fan inside the passenger area pushes air over the outside of the evaporator, circulating cold air inside the car. On the opposite side of the evaporator, the moisture in the air decreases and the condensation is drawn away. Lastly, the compressorthen draws in the low-pressure refrigerant vapor to begin another refrigeration cycle, which runs continuously.

At Sun Devil Auto our automotive air conditioning experts can handle the complexities of all vehicle A/C systems. Contact us today if you are in need an Air Conditioning Service or inspection. With the assurance that work will be done right the first time by our trusted, ASE certified technicians and state-of-the art equipment, you’ll drive away with peace of mind each and every time you visit one of our 20 Valley Locations