Automotive air conditioning was invented by Packard back in 1939 and in 1940 was the first car company to offer factory installed air conditioning. This proved immensely popular and by 1969 more than half of all new cars had air conditioning built in, increasing to 99 percent by the summer of 2010.
Though automotive air conditioning has barely changed since it’s conception, one thing that did have to be changed was the refrigerant used. As it was discovered that the refrigerant being used was damaging to the ozone layer, all cars manufactured after 1996 were require to use a safer alternative. For this reason, any cars older than this will need to be retrofitted with new system that uses the newer, safer refrigerant.
Air conditioning systems work by cooling and removing humidity from the air. There are three main parts to the system;
The compressor is a pump driven by a belt attached to the engine’s crankshaft. When the refrigerant is drawn into the compressor, it is in a low-pressure gaseous form. The belt drives the pump, which puts the gas under pressure and forces it out to the condenser.
The refrigerant enters the condenser as a pressurized gas from the compressor. The process of pressurizing the gas and moving it to the condenser creates heat, but air flowing around the twisting tubes of the condenser cool the refrigerant down until it forms a liquid again. The liquid refrigerant is now a high-pressure liquid and nearly ready to cool the car.
Refrigerant enters the evaporator coil as a cold, low-pressure liquid, ideally at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) Refrigerant enters the evaporator coil as a cold, low-pressure liquid, ideally at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius. The heat in the car is enough to make the refrigerant in the evaporator boil and become a gas again. In its gaseous form, refrigerant can absorb a lot of heat. The gas moves out of the evaporator and out of the passenger compartment of the car, taking the heat with it. A fan blowing over the outside of the evaporator coil blows cool air into the passenger compartment. The refrigerant in gas form then enters the compressor, where it is pressurized and the process starts again.
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