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Ever been on a long drive under the hot sun? The air conditioning system comes to the rescue on such a day. The AC system of your car is a basic requirement for temperature control. Imagine driving on a hot day in clumsy traffic where you need to stop your car frequently. It would be a disastrous situation if your car’s air conditioner won’t throw out cool air when the car is idle. This is a common phenomenon that can occur due to various reasons.
Is your air conditioner only cold when moving? The overall comfort level of the drive depreciates and it also causes a disbalance in the temperature control. The air conditioning system must be inspected in such a case. The AC system of your car comprises various components like the condenser, the condenser fans, and the refrigerant. A fault or problem with any one of them can lead to a malfunction in the air conditioning system.
Why Is The Air Conditioner Only Cold When Moving?
There is a huge difference between how your vehicle behaves in motion and how it acts when it’s idle. A moving car cuts through the air while an idle car isn’t exposed to the force of the air. All of these external factors are responsible for the malfunctioning air conditioning system to some extent. Furthermore, there are a few internal factors that can cause such a situation.
1. Dirty Condenser
The condenser is the most important component of your AC system. It is positioned in front of the radiator before the car’s grille. It functions to use the refrigerant sheds to produce cool air for your car. Condensers are prone to dirt and debris. Any dust which comes out of the compressor is trapped by the condenser fins. A dirty condenser is unable to produce cool air, especially, when the car is idle. A condenser faces a regular flow of air over it when the car is in motion. The airflow reduces the obstruction which is caused by the dust. Therefore, A dirty condenser is unable to provide cool air.
2. Faulty Condenser Fans
A condenser requires a regular flow of air over its surface. This airflow is not really a problem when the car is moving but, an idle car uses condenser fans to ensure the supply of air. The condenser fans function automatically when the car is in tight traffic or idle. Faulty condenser fans are a common reason for an air conditioning system that cools only when the car is in motion. If the condenser fans don’t ensure the required amount of airflow, cool air cannot be produced in an idle car.
3. Low Freon Level
A low level of refrigerant in your air conditioning system is easily observable. Is your air conditioner only cold when moving? and is it throwing warm air? This might be a case of low refrigerant content in your vehicle’s AC system. A refrigerant leak is usually visible and it makes it evident that you need a freon refill. A low click is audible when you turn on your car’s air conditioning. If you don’t hear that click, it indicates that the AC clutch is not engaged due to a lack of refrigerant.
How To Fix The AC If It Cools Only When The Car Is Moving?
There are various simple solutions to this problem. Once the faulty part is identified or a lack of refrigerant is observed, it gets really easy to implement the solution. Furthermore, a properly functioning AC system protects you from the hot weather.
1. Repairing Condenser Fans
If the problem diagnosed lies in the condenser fans, repairing them will improve the functionality of your car’s air conditioning system. Condenser fans run to supply air to the condensers when the natural airflow is low. A fully functional condenser fan helps the AC system in producing cool air, even when the car is not moving.
2. Cleaning The Condenser
A condenser is exposed to dust and debris. If your condenser is dirty, cleaning it will improve the quality of the air which your AC throws out. A clean condenser not only ensures that cool air is produced but also provides healthy air which is less harmful to breathe. Condenser fins are easily cleanable and this can prove to be the simplest solution to your complex problem.
3. Refilling Refrigerant
If you observe that the condenser is clean, with fully functioning condenser fans, the first thing you can try is to refill the refrigerant in your air conditioning system. Car refrigerant is a common product that is easily available in the market. A refrigerant refill ensures that the AC clutch engages on activation and you can feel the comforting cool air again.
4. Inspecting Leaks
The most common reason behind a lack of refrigerant in your car’s air conditioning system is a leak. If you are facing this problem frequently and are forced to refill freon, again and again, there might be a refrigerant leak. Inspecting and fixing a leak would be a long-term solution for this problem. An air conditioner, only cold when moving, can be a result of small leakage of refrigerant.
Cost Of Replacement And Refill
A new condenser fan will cost you something between $250 to $300. Furthermore, a labor cost of around $75 to $100 must be considered. The cost of the condenser fans varies between different brands.
If you wish to install a new condenser for the air conditioning system, it will cost you something between $500 to $900. Sometimes, simply cleaning the condenser might be the solution you need. A labor cost of around $100 is incurred to get the condenser cleaned.
Freon refill will cost you around $180 to $250 at any garage. The cost of freon ranges between $50 to $150. You can also refill your car’s refrigerant yourself.
Your air conditioning system is something that should bring comfort to the driving experience. A faulty AC is a very uncomfortable situation that should be fixed quickly. The dust in the condenser should be checked frequently because it might throw out harmful air which is not healthy to breathe. Air conditioner only cold when moving will encourage a tiring and discomforting driving experience. Therefore, a fully functional AC system is a basic need for your drive, and any problem in it must not be ignored.
Stay safe and enjoy driving