Time to Prioritize Your HVAC System
It feels like we were just talking about winter driving not that long ago, but the official coming of spring last week means a few different things – the weather’s about to get nicer, the pollen’s about to wreak havoc on your allergies and cab exterior, and it’s time to get your HVAC system in peak performance.
If you haven’t been thinking about your vehicle’s heating and cooling functionalities yet, you’re not alone. Springtime usually means the weather’s just right – not too hot, not too cold, and perfect for staying comfortable on the road. But doing some preliminary checks and maintenance on your HVAC system now can save you the distress of your AC blowing nothing but hot air during the summer. According to HVAC experts Red Dot Corporation, here are the major areas you should be optimizing.
1. Leaks, Caps, and Valves – Oh, My!
Before the temperature starts rising, do yourself and your HVAC system a favor and check for:
- Leaks or oil/dye around the fittings. If either are found, recover and repair the leak and recharge, making sure to put the receiver drier back and pull a deep vacuum before recharging.
- Caps on the service valves/charge ports. These tend to leak, and the cap is the primary seal. These should always be tight to prevent refrigerant loss.
- If a serve valve leak is found, replace with a core that has HNBR seals that offer greater thermal stability, tensile strength, and chemical resistance.
2. Compressor and Belt Drive Checks
Pre-summer HVAC maintenance doesn’t stop once you’ve passed the leak check. On your compressor and belt drive:
- Make sure to measure the clutch air gap with a feeler gauge. It should read 0.4 – 0.8 mm, or 0.016 – 0.031 in. Keep in mind that a larger gap could cause slippage and overheat the clutch. The manufacturer catalog will have the required specs for your compressor clutch for an exact recommendation.
- Note the tension and wear of the belt and replace it before it breaks
- Check for oil around the shaft seal, which could indicate a possible leak
3. Don’t Forget the Filters and Expansion Valve
This may seem like a commonsense check, but it’s easy to forget all the filters when you’re focusing on the entire system. As you’re checking your primary AC parts and components, remember to:
- Replace the receiver drier filter annually or any time the refrigerant system is opened. Also check and clean the fresh air and the fresh/recirc modes if your vehicle has them. Plugged filters can reduce heating and cooling performance and also reduce airflow, which is no good during long days on the road. It’s typically suggested to replace filters at 30,000 miles.
- Check the refrigerant charge head for damage and leaks
4. Other Critical HVAC Components to Maintain
Once all the above are good to go, you’re almost ready to cross your HVAC off your “needs attention” list for the summer. To round off your springtime heating and cooling check:
- Make sure the thermostat is working as it should
- Open and fully close the water valve – a valve that does not fully stop coolant flow will cause poor A/C cooling down the line
Need to replace a few things in your HVAC before you hit the road this summer? We’ve got your back with our full haul of heavy-duty everything, including superior quality heating and cooling components backed by 65 years of experience from Red Dot.