Mistakes to Avoid When Maintaining Your Truck’s Air Conditioner

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Air conditioning inspection is important for truck maintenance. Know what mistakes to avoid for your fleet or truck’s air conditioner system.
Wheelco Mechanic

Is your truck fleet ready for the summertime heat? During your spring maintenance, it’s easy to overlook a vital component of your truck’s operation—the air conditioner system. Do you know the status of your truck’s air conditioner? To help you prepare for the hot months ahead and prevent truck overheating, we’ve created a helpful list of mistakes to avoid when maintaining your truck’s air conditioner.

1. Not scheduling preventative maintenance for your air conditioner

Often not included on the typical fleet’s checklist for preventative maintenance, air conditioning inspection is important to do during regular truck service to ensure good working order. A visual inspection of air conditioning parts during prevention checks helps catch issues before they grow into large problems that compromise more expansive (and expensive) truck repairs down the road.

2. Not checking or replacing your engine coolant

If your radiator and engine coolant are running hotter than normal, the efficiency of your air conditioning system may be compromised. Also, if this is the case, the fan clutch drive must also be checked to ensure it’s pulling sufficient air flow across the radiator and condenser for efficient cooling. Check with your truck maintenance technician or engine coolant supplier for the proper process for managing your engine coolant and when coolant needs replacement.

3. Not visually examining air conditioner parts for leaks

Taking a closer look before it’s too late can help prevent many headaches. An inspection should begin by looking for leaks at hose connections or with the compressors. Air conditioning units contain refrigerant as well as oil—and when a leak develops it carries oil out with the refrigerant. Although refrigerant can evaporate, the oil will leave residue at the site of the leak. Loss of refrigerant and oil will eventually cause compressor damage.

Smaller leaks will not carry out oil with refrigerant, so there are two different leak detection processes which can be used in this case. The first method is a dye that can be added to the refrigerant which can be seen using an ultraviolet light. The second method is using an electric leak detector, sometimes called a sniffer, which can pick up the refrigerant vapors as they leak. The detector sounds an audio signal reflecting that a leak has been found.

4. Not checking air conditioner wiring connections

Frayed or insulation-stripped wire on the clutch circuit wiring should be repaired immediately, along with taking a voltage reading at the clutch connection. Idle should have at least a 12.5 voltage reading, and poor voltage can allow the clutch to slip under higher speed operation which can lead to overheating the clutch. Clutch bearing eventually leads to clutch or compressor failure.

5. Not measuring or replacing refrigerant (and not inspecting parts after draining)

Correct refrigerant level should always be maintained and checked during regular service—even if a leak cannot easily be found. The way to ensure the required level of refrigerant is in the air conditioning system is to recover all the refrigerant out of the system (in a recovery system). After this is done, mechanics can recharge the system with the correct documented refrigerant capacity for your specific truck.

Also, more preventative maintenance can be performed if all the refrigerant is removed from the system. This maintenance can include changing the drier or accumulator, along with removing and inspecting the expansion valve or orifice tube if found to be clogged or inoperable. If contamination is found in these air conditioner parts or in the lines, flushing the system parts is recommended.

6. Not checking the air conditioner condenser

One last important visual inspection should be checking the air conditioner’s condenser. Inspection should ensure that the condenser’s fins are not clogged or bent over. The best air flow possible should always be maintained through the condenser, radiator, and charged air cooler for proper cooling and peak performance of your truck’s air conditioner.

Interested in servicing your truck and air conditioner at Wheelco? Call us, stop into one of our multiple locations, or send us a note online. And check out our latest parts specials—or ask us for access to our online ordering option to browse our parts inventory.

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