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Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? - Car Talk - Nairaland

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Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 8:52pm On Nov 28, 2015
One thing i have noticed with my 03 Accord is that contrary to what it was before the A/C is very cool while driving and lose the cooling efficiency at idle. The hot season is here so i need more cooling than i am getting now.

I sought to find out why?

The usual first problem is dirty cabin air filter. In my case, the filter had been removed by previous owner and i never got to replace it like i promised myself to do. Besides, its not as if the A/C doesnt cool at all so the problem lies elsewhere.

Another problem could be low refrigerant charge. My research on this says there must have been a leakage. I will have the charge level checked but am scared on this. My reason is that most mechanics are very selfish and untruthfull. Its possible that the guy might check and see it ok but because he wants some money he will say its low and then overcharge it just for some bucks and then i have more problems. There is a possibility of recharging with fake refrigerant too. I will make sure i know how to check the charge levels before heading to the shop.

Compressor clutch is one thing that can go bad. I feel my clutch is fine. Thats because one of our office cars an 06 Corolla has a bad clutch. The car cools but stops cooling erratically and mostly at higher speeds. It cools better and steady at idle but during acceleration it stops cooling and on high engine rev too. This situation is opposite to mine.

Lastly, the A/C condenser is a very important part of the cooling system. The condenser in simple terms dispels the heat the system extracts from the car interior. The refrigerant will be hot when it leaves the evaporator and is supposed to get cooled at the condenser then recirculate. But if refrigerant doesnt get properly cooled, the system wont work efficiently.

3 things in my knowledhe will stop efficient cooling of refrigerant.
First is dirt clogging up the condenser coil/fins preventing air flow.
Second is the bending of most of the fins also preventing airflow
Third is inadequate or lack of air flow by the cooling fan/fans.

In summary, the condenser needs airflow and anything that prevents or reduce airflow through the condenser will affect the whole system's efficiency.

In my case, it made perfect sense when i looked at my condenser. Most of the fins are bent. Infact one bad portion i remember was bent when i hit a chicken on high speed. The chicken broke my bumper grill and vent straight to the condenser bending the all coils and fins it made contact with. Alot of the fins are bent and some have broken out so i suppose the cooling fans will not be able to get proper air flow through the condenser. Thus, my loss of cooling efficiency at idle but improves at motion because air hits the condenser directly cooling it better than at idle.

SOLUTION
The best is to replace the condenser. Optionally, the fins are light weight and thin so they can be straightened to create better airflow.

Because i dont want to lose the original refrigerant in my car, i will go for the straightening. Its not accessable with bumper in place so at the appropriate time the bumper has to come off and a lot of painstaking effort will be made to straighten all bent fins.

Below are pictures of typical condenser with bent fins and straightening.

1 Like

Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Okpeyemi125: 9:14pm On Nov 28, 2015
Ok
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by lonelydora: 12:39am On Nov 29, 2015
Is the "compressor clutch" what they locally call "outer plate"?
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by GAZZUZZ(m): 5:53am On Nov 29, 2015
A weak compressor could cause same symptoms.

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Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by blackfm: 6:40pm On Nov 29, 2015
This is how my car's AC problem started until the whole system got fried on attempt to fix it. Beware
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 9:47pm On Nov 29, 2015
GAZZUZZ:
A weak compressor could cause same symptoms.

Yes sir. A weak pump might give low compression at idle but improve at higher RPM. However, a weak compressor is also masked by low refrigerant charge if i have not mistaken it for another.

By the day the pics below show my condenser.
Pic 1 shows the upper part
Pic 2 shows damage at lower left side by a chicken i hit on high speed.
Pic 3 shows right lower side

The lower side which looks verybad is from the part of the bumper that is exposed.

Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Piyke: 9:32pm On Nov 30, 2015
Hi Adanny01,

Another symptom that could help you determine if it's a low charge is if the right centre vent cools more than the left.
I had this happen when my system was low, charged it up and it disappeared.
The condenser looks compromised though.

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Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 10:07pm On Nov 30, 2015
Piyke:
Hi Adanny01,

Another symptom that could help you determine if it's a low charge is if the right centre vent cools more than the left.
I had this happen when my system was low, charged it up and it disappeared.
The condenser looks compromised though.

Yea, it is as you described.

During the rainy season when it was cold but driving with closed windows, when i turn on the A/C to cool down air in the car after sometime, condensation appears like fumes comes out from extreme right to the last vent on the left in that order.

I thought is probably be cause the far right vent is closest to the fan motor and others follow suit according to distance from the fan motor.

I will check the charge first.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by earthrealm(m): 7:14pm On Dec 01, 2015
ur symtoms i s usually caused by weak compressor or condenser as u stated..dirty condenser or even radiator might b the culprit
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 8:09pm On Dec 01, 2015
earthrealm:
ur symtoms i s usually caused by weak compressor or condenser as u stated..dirty condenser or even radiator might b the culprit

Agreed except for the radiator.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by earthrealm(m): 8:58pm On Dec 01, 2015
yeah radiator is behind the condenser...my take is still a per airflow...may be wrong though..

i think if the rad is dirty/clogged...it may b blocking the air pushed by the fans which off course spins faster at higher rpm from reaching the condenser

my ac chills artic winter on the highway cool cool...but is just plain cold/chilled within the city......gat a new compressor and condenser,,,and system was vaccumed prior to refill and i refilled excat qty as per manufacturer 0.65kg or so..used a weight scale

so am wondering whats up, funny enough the only time my car ac gave me artic winter within the city was a day or 2 b4 the compressor locked up......probablly due to lack of oil dunno
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 10:32pm On Dec 01, 2015
earthrealm:
yeah radiator is behind the condenser...my take is still a per airflow...may be wrong though..

i think if the rad is dirty/clogged...it may b blocking the air pushed by the fans which off course spins faster at higher rpm from reaching the condenser

my ac chills artic winter on the highway cool cool...but is just plain cold/chilled within the city......gat a new compressor and condenser,,,and system was vaccumed prior to refill and i refilled excat qty as per manufacturer 0.65kg or so..used a weight scale

so am wondering whats up, funny enough the only time my car ac gave me artic winter within the city was a day or 2 b4 the compressor locked up......probablly due to lack of oil dunno

This is exactly why am scared of even checking the refrigerant charge. My car is 4 yrs in Naija and A/C has not been topped or worked on. Thats why am not considering a new condenser, the best is to recharge.

Naija ac technicians dont seem to do well. My friend recharged his refrigerant on a 2005 Tacoma and the system melted. The evaporator, pipes, condenser melted and the compressor went up in flames. Imagine that, every part of his AC system was affected and everything was replaced but refrigerant never lasted a week thereafter.

I dont see how the radiator will clog up with dirt when the condenser is positioned right in front of it. The condenser usually takes the dirt and hit from debri. Anyways, the way to test is to hold a polythene bag in front of the condenser while fan is only. The pull of the bag unto the condenser will tell you. Dirt and debri can be visually inspected and cleaned easyly so i wont consider it as a serious issue.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by tunlex01(m): 9:51am On Dec 02, 2015
blackfm:
This is how my car's AC problem started until the whole system got fried on attempt to fix it. Beware

Pls how did u fix it? My AC is not cooling at all
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Piyke: 10:54am On Dec 02, 2015
adanny01:


This is exactly why am scared of even checking the refrigerant charge. My car is 4 yrs in Naija and A/C has not been topped or worked on. Thats why am not considering a new condenser, the best is to recharge.

Naija ac technicians dont seem to do well. My friend recharged his refrigerant on a 2005 Tacoma and the system melted. The evaporator, pipes, condenser melted and the compressor went up in flames. Imagine that, every part of his AC system was affected and everything was replaced but refrigerant never lasted a week thereafter.

I dont see how the radiator will clog up with dirt when the condenser is positioned right in front of it. The condenser usually takes the dirt and hit from debri. Anyways, the way to test is to hold a polythene bag in front of the condenser while fan is only. The pull of the bag unto the condenser will tell you. Dirt and debri can be visually inspected and cleaned easyly so i wont consider it as a serious issue.

There's no risk in checking the charge, you just need a a set of manifold gauges or even some refill cans that come with a gauge.
If you do refill, I will ask that you steer clear from those local small cans. My technician used the big green cylinder and it's been more than a year with no issues
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 11:46am On Dec 02, 2015
Piyke:


There's no risk in checking the charge, you just need a a set of manifold gauges or even some refill cans that come with a gauge.
If you do refill, I will ask that you steer clear from those local small cans. My technician used the big green cylinder and it's been more than a year with no issues

Thanks.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by earthrealm(m): 8:40pm On Dec 02, 2015
the guages cost btw 3k n 6k...got mine for 3500 naira...n used those thier 1kg refill bottles.
u may loose a lil qty of gas while checking the pressure.......hope you have located the chart...cos the pressure varies with ambient temps
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 9:34am On Dec 05, 2015
I went on research to find the bestway to charge A/C refrigerant, i have read threads on automotive sites, read instructions of manifold guage, read my car's service manual and watched videos. I found alot of interesting things, most of which our A/C technicians do wrong which eventually leads to compressor damage.

Those that were very important are; using a vacuum pump before charging a empty system, adding appropriate weight of pag oil whenever any part of the system is replaced and purging the manifold pipes of air before recharging. Others that our technicians do that isnt necessary or bad practice are; turning the refrigerant can up side down, spraying water or soapy water on the condenser while charging and probably over charging.

I cant confirm over charging since i dont know the pressures they actually watch for to stop charging but i have seen alot. For the act of putting water on the condenser, i personally concluded it isnt a good idea even thought it was mentioned on the service manual as a test procedure for condenser/blockage, cooling fan and compressor. Watering the condenser during recharge drops low side or suction pipe pressure which will encourage the technician to add more than required refrigerant leading to overcharge. From my understanding, watering the condenser like most technicians do leads to over charging. During daily use, the condenser does not get sprayed with water so why treat it specially during recharge when it will later face worst conditions on a very hot day in traffic. That is why there is a chart as i found out. The ambient temperature tells the technician the specific pressure level to charge to at any particular time. Using water scrambles that table.

It is easier to recharge a system from empty that recharging since you cannot tell the exact weight of refrigerant in the system. Honda service manual states refrigerant capacity is 500-550grams and i saw two small cans of refrigerant on konga with both not less than 300grams. Using one may be over charge or under charge so the only check is the pressures.

Adding oil is also tricky as the service manual considers a new oem compressor as replacement which comes with full quantity of oil. Here, we replace with used compressor so the quantity to add will be tricky.

From the info i have now, i would recharge my system closer to spec than most Naija techs would. Unfortunately, non of them will listen to me like they always do.

My only confusion right now is that all i have read says to charge by opening and letting refrigerant flow through the sunction or low pressure side while only the Honda manual says Discharge or High pressure side. Note that Honda manual considers use of Honda tools and equipment that isnt accessible to me or most techs and DIYers.

One warning i saw was never to open the high side or discharge valve while the compressor is engaged.

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Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 10:19am On Dec 05, 2015
The guage below is an qually good tool that could help a DIYer like me to recharge refrigerant sucessfully. Thats because the other manifold type is more professional and the second dail guage is used for diagnosis purposes of the high pressure side of the system and not used during recharge process.

This small one is all you need.

Some of them come with the temperature marks against the pressure marks which make it by far easy. See second pic.

The last pic has one with reusable dispenser. So the refrigerant can be kept and reused even after a year if there isnt any leakage.

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Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by earthrealm(m): 5:30pm On Dec 05, 2015
@addany good research.. u hv made much progress...thats what i bought my own manifold guages, vaccum pump, and leak detector................i do all my ac work myself now...and my car is beta off for it.

two points u made:

1. recharging tru high side::: never do this unless the compresor is off....the pressures in the high side when compressor is on is usually in excess of 250psi...and will blow apart that metal can holding the gas, or even the big green one...{unless the over pressure valve is still functional...in wch case it will vent the refrigrant rapidly to avoid bursting...n if this touches ur eyes...omo...na instant blindess, on a bartimeus scale grin grin},
but there is safe procedure to refill tru the high side, but u must be experienced...this quickens the recharging process..to about 20 mins from the 40mins it takes going the low side.
so simply have ur car off, compressor off..hook up ur guages...hook up ur refrigrant can to the guages...open slowly...then turn the can upside down...that way only liquid refrig enters....do this till it stops taking...usually 0.5 to 0.75 of the total required volume enters tru this way.....u then disconnect....purge the pipes/guages if necessary n then hook them to the low side...start the car n finish ur recharge.
NOTE:This method works for a totally empty system that u vaccumed and then u have a scale to measure out the exact weight of ur car as per factory


2. pouring water during recharging is ok as it helps to keep the pressures down.........this shud only b done when u r refilling by weight...wch is the only correct way to refill........refilling by pressure is useless...as pressure works with ambient temps during the time of recharge...

3. oil...i wud advice u if u can do this once and for all..drop ur compressore...discard any oil in the system..measure and pour in the required oil...and reinstall ...then vaccum ur system and refilll...ur ac will be chilling artic winter like factory

my research into ac systems...has made me never to give my car to the naija ac mechanic....all most all of them dont understand the physics behind what they are doing, imagine 1 clown...blowing air with his mouth into a new condenser...to check if its leaking!!!!!!!!, by that act he is introducing air+moisture into the system...n then the channels in the condenser are very small...unless the hole is very very big...the human mouth cannot generate enough pressure to chk for leakage

DIY FOR LIFE!!!

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Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 7:17pm On Dec 05, 2015
I am learning from this, thanks for you contribution.

1. I dont even want to mess with this side. Just like i read, its dangerous to open valve on the high side when compressor clutch is engage. For me, as long as the engine is running, i dont have anything to do with the high side. I will only have something to do with it when the system has a fault.

2. The only place i saw watering was mentioned is the Honda service manual and it mentioned it for trouble shooting purposes. In line with this, it also mentions that watering will drop the low side pressure. In other words, recharging is related to ambient temperature which is directly proportional to low side pressure. If water is applied on the compressor, the relationship between recharging and ambient temp is altered and no longer reliable, so is the pressure. That means if recharging refrigerant is not charged by weight, recharging is effectively blind and the tendancy to overcharge is high.

For such a system like mine that may not be leaking but probably lost charge through a long period which is normal, i may not need to empty the system of its remaining refrigerant. I can top it off. If thats the case and i cant know exactly how many grams i have left in the system pressure chart is the next best thing. In this case watering is a big no.

Just like you said, when recharging by weight which is mostly for empty systems, water is allowed to make the process faster.

3. I really do not want to empty my system unless am replacing a part or i have a leak. According to the manual, there isnt any need for the oil unless a part is being replaced or when there is a considerable leak where some oil leaked out with refrigerant. Other than that a simple recharge will suffice.

I remember when i was the one driving my mums 97 accord years ago, a bolt dropped from a car ahead of me and hit the condenser. I parked and refrigerant gas was hissing and the green oil was leaking with it. Upon all the money spent on that A/C, it never came back to life as good or as consistent as it was before the incident. Now i know why.

Am considering replacing the condenser in future, then i will put in the exact quantity as stated in the manual for cindenser replacement. Before i must do that i have to get a vacuum pump.

Lasty, am so in for DIY. I adjusted my valve lash just days ago, the mechanic said i cant do it but i did. Just this afternoon, i did my plumbing works on my W/C that water refused to flow into the tank for a month now. Am planning a big DIY of kitchen cabinetry/wardropes/ entertaiment console/bed frame and side drawer/ dressing tables etc of a new house. The A/C may be my immediate next DIY depending on when i get the manifold guage. If i get the single guage, i will be ok with for now.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by earthrealm(m): 7:05am On Dec 06, 2015
ok, ur plan sounds ok...since u dont have a vaccum pump and a scale measure...
i wud advice u top up using the chart ..dont pour water on the condenser...ur oil level shud be good then, if no leakage.

most big shops in usa/naija....the empty ,, vaccuum and refill by weight...thats why most cars done at big shops are done well......gas is cheap...1kg of gas is btw 1k to N1500,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, another option u may consider is getting a small scale during the recharge so u can know the exact weight of gas u added...try not to add more than 25% of factory weight...drive and observe for a while...cud take it up to 30 or 40% gradually....over filling kills compressor as fast as low oil
REFILLING BY PRESSURE isnt so good...so much unknowns...
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Piyke: 10:25am On Dec 06, 2015
I'm seriously considering getting manifold gauges, vacuum pump and possibly weight scale to take over AC DIY refills.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Piyke: 10:27am On Dec 06, 2015
@earthrealm how do you get steady supply of the pump oil? Or you're based in the US?
Will be good if one can get this locally in Nigeria
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 12:23pm On Dec 06, 2015
Piyke:
@earthrealm how do you get steady supply of the pump oil? Or you're based in the US?
Will be good if one can get this locally in Nigeria

I have seen the pag oil on Konga.

On the refrigerant, i have seen several warnings to avoid products with additives such as leak sealant and others. The only additive that is recommended is UV dye to help trace leakage in future.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by cokoduck: 12:26pm On Dec 06, 2015
You guys forgot one very important part of the Ac system, the condenser just as its name implies changes the gas from compressor to liquid, the process is called condensation, hence the name condenser, it does that by cooling the hot and high pressure gas from the compressor,for it to cool the hot gas it must take heat away from it, that is what the COOLING FAN does, especially at idle,by forcing air through the condenser fins, when the car is in motion, air naturally goes into those tiny spaces but at idle it does not, so the cooling fan has the job of forcing air into the spaces. So don't forget the cooling fan.

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Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Piyke: 5:44pm On Dec 06, 2015
adanny01:


I have seen the pag oil on Konga.

On the refrigerant, i have seen several warnings to avoid products with additives such as leak sealant and others. The only additive that is recommended is UV dye to help trace leakage in future.

You mean the pag oil for the AC system right? I mean the oil you add to the vacuum pump itself, I don't think it's the same with the oil for the AC system
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 10:09pm On Dec 06, 2015
Piyke:


You mean the pag oil for the AC system right? I mean the oil you add to the vacuum pump itself, I don't think it's the same with the oil for the AC system

Thats something i have neither seen nor heard.

The vacuum is to expel air and water from the system and no oil is needed. Except that in evacuating the gas, care must be taken not to expel the oil too. Any oil lost must be measured and replaced.

I am researching on vacuum pumps. I have found out that a tyre pumping machine can be converted into a vacuum pump.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 9:58am On Dec 07, 2015
There is something else i have been reading about. It seem vacuum pumps are very essential for A/C and refrigerator systems recharge but technicians in Nigeria are not aware of and have not been using. It means sourcing a vacuum pump locally will be hard.

So i thought of something, what is a vacuum pump. A vacuum pump is essentially the opposite of an air compressor. So if i can get any air compressor it must have a port where it sucks air and compresses it. The sucking side if connected well will in reverse be a vacuum pump. The only other matter will be capacity to suck up to 29inches of mecury.

One can liase with a road side vulcaniser and their air compressor may be a very effective vacuum pump. I have seen a video where someone converted his portable tire pump compressor to a vacuum pump.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Piyke: 10:14am On Dec 07, 2015
adanny01:


Thats something i have neither seen nor heard.

The vacuum is to expel air and water from the system and no oil is needed. Except that in evacuating the gas, care must be taken not to expel the oil too. Any oil lost must be measured and replaced.

I am researching on vacuum pumps. I have found out that a tyre pumping machine can be converted into a vacuum pump.

AC vacuum pumps use oil to prevent their engines from going kaput.

You will see it both from the pictures and description on this page:
http://www.amazon.com/Single-stage-Rotary-Vacuum-R410a-Refrigerant/dp/B00BXMRP4I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449479339&sr=8-1&keywords=AC+vacuum+pump
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by adanny01(m): 1:06pm On Dec 07, 2015
Piyke:


AC vacuum pumps use oil to prevent their engines from going kaput.

You will see it both from the pictures and description on this page:
http://www.amazon.com/Single-stage-Rotary-Vacuum-R410a-Refrigerant/dp/B00BXMRP4I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449479339&sr=8-1&keywords=AC+vacuum+pump

I later saw some, now am aware.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Youngmular1: 9:02am On Dec 13, 2015
pls i will like u to help me on hw to start d selling of cars air condition spare part.
Re: Is Your A/C Very Cool While Driving And Warm At Idle? by Piyke: 8:29pm On Feb 15, 2016
Bump Adanny01. Any update? Did you finally get a recharge?

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