Keeping it Cool: Our A/C Maintenance Guide

Beat the heat with our A/C maintenance guide to make sure your car rides are cool all summer long.

A/C vents

It’s the middle of summer and we all dread sliding into our cars knowing how much built-up heat is waiting for us. So without a second thought, as soon as you slide in you reach for that A/C button and await that welcome blast of ice-cold air, right? With temperatures soaring into the triple digits across much of the country, you can’t afford for that heavenly air to give out on you.

Of course, we at Quoted know how confusing the ins and outs of cars can be, so we reached out to our good friend Mechanic Matt, a team member at the pay-per-mile insurance company Metromile for tips and tricks to keep your treasured A/C up to par. He’s given us some crazy-helpful tips before, so we’re thrilled that the certified ASE Master Technician and owner of a California-based local repair shop is sharing some more of his wisdom with us.

How to Keep Your Air Conditioner Happy

An A/C’s main job in the summertime is to fill your ride up with an abundance of cool, refreshing air. So what happens if that cool air stops? Mechanic Matt says it’s probably due to lack of regular maintenance. That’s right folks—your A/C needs some maintenance TLC just like your brakes, tires and hoses. It turns out that the condition and level of the refrigerant is the leading factor in determining your A/C’s ability to cool. Matt shared his step-by-step tips and information on how to tell if the refrigerant is low, what to look out for at the repair shop, and how much this repair might cost you.

Use your A/C's Fresh Air setting in low-humidity or dry climates.
  • First things first, Put the A/C on “high” and listen for the compressor clutch to come on. The compressor clutch will make a loud click sound as it engages. If it begins making multiple clicks or starts cycling, your system is due for a charge. Your local automotive repair shop should be able to recharge the system.

  • Make sure the shop uses a tracer dye in the system when they perform the recharge. Matt says this will make an accurate diagnostic of any leak possible if the system begins to deteriorate. Without the tracer dye, leaks in the system are quite difficult to locate.

  • Paying for this tweak will usually cost less than $200, but could save you thousands in the long run as systems running low on refrigerant can damage very expensive components within the system itself.

Death Valley, 112 degrees Fahrenheit on our car thermometer (44 degrees Celsius) and it is already late afternoon.

How to Boost Your Air Conditioner’s Power

What if your vehicle has been recently serviced but the air still isn’t cold enough? Mechanic Matt shared these tips to maximize your A/C’s efficiency:

  • If you are traveling in a low humidity or dry climate area such as Arizona, use the “Fresh Air” setting. This will bring in the outside air and allow the air conditioning system to cool the hot, dry air more efficiently.

  • If you are traveling in a humid area set the A/C to “Recirculate”. This will eliminate the use of the high-moisture outside air making it easier for your A/C system to cool off that stuffy air.

Do you have any tips for maintaining your A/C? Let us know in the comments below.