Keeping your Car Aircon system in good

working order !

TOP TIP ! 

When leaving a message on the answerphone, please speak slowly and clearly, especially when leaving a return telephone number. We get a lot of calls that we cannot answer due to garbled or hurried messages that we cannot decipher. 

All car air conditioning systems are prone to leaks. Pipes vibrate and chafe, road salt and stones cause damage, particularly to condensers and, like any other mechanical item, compressors can generally become worn and inefficient over time, more so when they are neglected (would you run your engine without oil?)

Experience has shown that certain models have their own little faults and  whilst by no means exhaustive, the following list is based on the  number and frequency of jobs carried out on these vehicles since ACC started in 2000.  The general advice is to buy a car with the most basic aircon system available, they tend to work better, last longer and are cheaper to repair when they  fail.

If you would like any advice about your vehicle - just ask!

We are seeing lots of cars with condenser failure, probably due to the long Winters of late and the large amount of salt put on the roads. Remember to gently wash the condenser with a hose, (not a jetwasher), during the Winter and early Spring.

All Hybrids - Ensure that the car air con system is only serviced by a specialist. The compressors can be damaged by incorrect charging as they require a special oil to lubricate the windings. The wrong oil will short the windings.

Ferrari & other Classics - Problems with incorrect operation of the service valves on the original York compressors can mean an expensive rebuild of the compressor. Ensure that any work is carried out by a technician who understands how the valves operate.

Porsche Boxter / 911 (& derivatives with twin condensers) - very prone to aircon condenser failure. We always advise washing the condensers regularly with a hospipe (not a jetwasher) to remove the salt and mud etc that becomes trapped in the corners and at the base of the condenser.  We can supply and fit ORIGINAL quality Behr condensers at a much lower price than Porsche Dealers.

Mercedes - all models but C & S Class especially. If the airflow from the dashboard vents seems poor, check the pollen filter (usually behind the glovebox) as we've found lots of these blocked. Seems it's not always changed as part of the normal service schedule.

Jaguar XJ6 - if the car aircon condenser fails, it is usually necessary to replace the receiver drier and the pipes that connect to it, as the threaded connections (aluminium) usually strip when the steel nut is undone.

Ford Mondeo Mk111 - early models had problems with the discharge pipe from the air con compressor chaffing on the sub frame and wearing through, this was later designed out, but is worth checking. The pipe can be cable-tied out of harms way. (In the offside wheelarch).

Ford Focus / C-Max - 05 & 55 Reg models are appearing with burst refrigerant pipes. This is usually the discharge pipe from the compressor to the condenser. The reason is unclear, it could be a weakpoint in the pipe which is failing due to high pressure in the system, caused by insufficient cooling of the condenser.

Ford Fiesta / Ka - if the heater is blowing cold, but the engine temperature is normal and the car is otherwise OK, it is likely that the heater control valve has failed. It's quite a common problem  but happily isn't a major expense.

Ford Galaxy, VW Sharan & Seat Alhambra - pipework failure is common and on older models evaporator failure was a big problem and quite costly as the dashboard has to be removed to replace it! On the later models, the condenser has a built in receiver drier which collects moisture at the top and causes the seal to fail due to corrosion. Also, the compressors tend to run out of steam quite easily. Everything works, but the vent air discharge is not cold.

Renault Clio / Megane ll / Laguna II - ensure that any air con work is carried out by experienced engineers. Many Renaults are appearing with damaged compressors caused by wrongly re-charged systems. The models have a very misleading charging arrangement and it would appear that some garages are charging LIQUID refrigerant into the low pressure (suction) side of the compressor. As liquids cannot be compressed, something has to give - sadly it's usually the compressor - very expensive for the garage!   Also, on the Laguna ll's the pipe from the compressor to the condenser is prone to failure due to vibration, this is not a big job, but getting hold of a new pipe can be!

Peugeot 306 - subject to pipework corrosion inside the saddle clamps on the two pipes to and from the compressor. This can usually be seen by looking straight down behind and below the radiator. If you are changing a condenser, it is advisable to change both pipes as well, (if they have not been changed already), thus saving the re-charging costs later when they fail.


Vauxhall Astra & Zafira - the car aircon condenser cooling fan attracts all sorts of debris. Leaves, road salt and grit etc can all cause corrosive damage leading to condenser failure. It is an easy task to remove the fan, situated at the front of the car, remove any build up and gently wash the condenser with a hosepipe. Best done in the Springtime, ready for the Summer.

Vauxhall Vectra - the 'dual' pipe from/to the compressor is a common source of failure on older models, it is hard to detect unless you know where to look, but is not a very expensive job to replace. Not a problem with newer models, although condenser failure is however.

Audi & VW - all models - lots of control failures and air con compressor breakdowns. The Climatronic versions are, I feel, over complicated and are prone to failure. Usually requires plug in diagnostics as the many sensors are extremely time consuming to test individually. We now have facilities to diagnose most problems on post 2000 cars.

Tractors and Combines usually have long pipe runs that rub at various points. It is worth checking regularly and protecting any vulnerable areas with high density foam covers. These will wear first and can be changed easily as needed. 

We will add to this list from time to time, so keep checking. In the meantime use your air conditioning for at least 15 minutes once a week, all year round.

USE IT OR LOSE IT!