Why is Your Car’s Air Conditioner not Working? Expansion Valve Problems Could be the Culprit

You’re driving along in your car, turning on the air conditioner. You feel cool air blow across your face, but then you realize the temperature in the car doesn’t seem to be getting cooler, despite it being blazing hot outside. It’s possible that the air conditioner isn’t working because of an issue with your car’s expansion valve. Here are some common reasons why this might happen and what you can do about it.

What is an Expansion Valve?

Your car’s air conditioner is a system of interrelated parts that provide cold air to your vehicle and its passengers. At its core is an expansion valve, a part that controls how coolant flows through your vehicle’s air conditioning system. The expansion valve’s primary purpose is to decrease the pressure of the refrigerant before it enters the evaporator. In addition, the expansion valve can increase or reduce the amount of coolant flowing through the system based on cooling needs.

What are the Common Causes of an AC Expansion Valve Failure?

The expansion valve controls the pressure inside the AC system and regulates the refrigerant flow into the system. Any signs of low, no, or high pressure inside your car’s AC should raise alarm bells and indicate a problem with the expansion valve. A common cause of expansion valve failure is corrosion. An expansion valve can get corroded by regular use or damaged due to other components failing in the system like cooling fans, blower motors, and evaporators or compressors. If the expansion valve fails, your car’s A/C system will perform poorly and eventually quit working.

How is a Failing Expansion Valve Fixed

A mechanic will first diagnose your car’s AC expansion valve to determine if it’s failing and if any other components need to be replaced. Then, your mechanic will usually recommend replacing the expansion valve. Typically, replacement is not too expensive and will ultimately save money in the long run.

What are Some Ways to Prevent Failure in the Future?

Car trouble can happen to anyone, and sometimes components such as your car’s AC will fail regardless of how well maintained your vehicle is. However, it is best to have problems with your car’s AC diagnosed and repaired by a professional instead of ignoring them, which will only lead to more significant issues.

If your car’s AC isn’t getting cold anymore, see your mechanic to get it back to keeping you cool.

Photo by nikom1234 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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