Have you noticed that as the summer has gotten warmer, so has your Ford Truck’s air conditioning? Even for a seasoned do-it-yourself mechanic, proper air condition repairs are difficult and improper handling of Freon gas can catch you a hefty fine if caught but before running to your neighborhood mechanic there are a few things that you can do to keep those maintenance bills as low as possible.
Usually when your Ford Truck stops blowing cold air it is due to a lack of Freon – the gas responsible for compressing and chilling the interior air and with such a high-pressure system, leaks are common as the vehicle gets older. Regular wear and tear can cause leaks and once the Freon leaks out, the system cannot cool the air and the Freon can escape through a variety of ways. Most commonly, the rubber o-rings along the charge piping gets hard and cracks, allowing the gas to escape but in worst-case situations an expensive item like a compressor may have failed and that is the kind of repair that will need the help of a properly equipped air condition repair shop.
The first step is to look around the underhood area of your Ford Truck and find the air condition system decal that will tell you whether your truck uses R-12 or R-134a refrigerant. R-12 is more common in older vehicles and companies have gone to the R-134a more recently as it is easier on the environment when a leak occurs. If your truck takes R-12, you can purchase kits to retrofit the system to accept R-134a but mixing the two can ruin the system.
Once you know which type of refrigerant your Ford truck takes, you can go to the parts store and purchase a recharging kit. Before recharging your air conditioning system, visually inspect the metal lines running from the firewall to the compressor and the front of the truck. Minor leaks are hard to see with the naked eye but in some cases, a severe leak or damage to an AC system component may be visible. If your visual inspection comes up empty, you can recharge the system and in some cases, your AC might go right back to blowing cold for a good long time. If you find that your Ford truck’s air conditioning blows cold for a while but then gradually becomes warmer, this is likely the cause of a slow leak around a gasket or O-ring. Recently, companies have begun offering air conditioning system sealant that you introduce into the charging port where the refrigerant goes. Adding a can of this can help to soften and re-seat any gaskets that have gotten hard and in many cases I have seen this type of product fix a vehicle for years along with a refrigerant charge.
Unfortunately, if adding Freon and sealant to the air conditioning system of your truck has no effect, your problem is likely in one of the other major components such as the compressor, evaporator or condenser. If that is the case, unless you happen to own an expensive refrigerant evacuation machine, you will need to head to an AC repair shop as it is against federal law to release refrigerants into the atmosphere; which is why many smaller shops cannot do air conditioning repairs. Not only is it illegal to vent the Freon into the atmosphere, doing so can have deadly consequences in the proper situations so if the basic recharge doesn’t work, your best bet is to head to your local air condition repair specialist.
Repairs at a properly equipped shop can get expensive but in attempting to recharge your Ford truck’s air conditioning system with the help of a system sealant may help you save money on repairs and still enjoy the comfort of air condition.