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What Causes Air Conditioning Leaks in a Car?

It’s easy for air conditioning problems to sneak up on you. If you live in Northeast Ohio, we often ignore our air conditioning for up to six months every year during the winter. It isn’t until a warm day when we switch on the A/C and realize there is a problem. If your air conditioning is blowing warm or hot air, you might immediately think you are low on refrigerant or have a leak.

While leaks are not the only causes of a faulty air conditioner, they can be caused by several problems or failures, including:

Natural Wear-and-Tear

Like most components, some parts may become worn out over time. A broken gasket or seal, cracked hose or other component may cause a refrigerant leak in the system. Additionally, some refrigerant does naturally escape over time, but it escapes in such tiny amounts it would take a very long time to cause the vehicle to blow warm air.

Road Salt & Brine

Unlike a home air conditioner or a refrigerator, a car’s air conditioning system is not encapsulated in one unit. The parts in your vehicle’s A/C system are scattered throughout the vehicle to make it work properly. This means some parts are exposed to road salt and brine used during the winter months which can ultimately lead to the corrosion of those parts.

Moisture

If a rubber hose, seal or other component breaks down for any reason, it allows moisture to enter the system. The moisture mixes with the refrigerant and forms an acid which breaks down other components and causes tiny pin hole leaks.

Damage from a Road Debris or Accidents

Some undercar damage can be caused by stones, rocks, potholes or other road hazards. Furthermore, if the vehicle has suffered impact from an accident, some components may have been damaged. It is best to have the vehicle inspected after any accident or if you experienced any rough riding conditions to make sure no damage has been done to any vehicle system or part.

Unfortunately, there is no malfunction indicator lamp or “Check Engine” light for the air conditioning system, so it is best to have your A/C checked at least every few years and immediately if you suspect a problem.