Is Your Car’s Air Conditioning Only Working When You’re Driving? Here’s What Might Be Going On

Your car’s air conditioning system is designed to keep your car’s cabin at a comfortable temperature. When it isn’t working properly, you may notice that your car’s air conditioning only works when you’re driving. This can be incredibly frustrating and make summer driving unbearable. So, what causes this issue? Let’s find out!

What to Do if Your Car’s Air Conditioning Only Works When You’re Driving

One of the most annoying things that can happen to your car’s air conditioning is when it only works while driving. This means that your AC will turn off as soon as you come to a complete stop, making it difficult to keep the cabin temperature comfortable. So what can you do if this happens to you?

The first thing you should do is check your car’s coolant levels. Low coolant levels can cause your AC system to struggle and only work when the car is driving. Make sure that the coolant reservoir is full and that there are no leaks in the system. If your car has a cabin air filter, make sure it is clean and has not been blocked by dirt or dust.

If the problem is not with your coolant levels or cabin air filter, it could be an issue with your car’s compressor. The compressor is responsible for pumping cold air into the cabin of your car, and if it is not working properly, it can cause your AC to stop working when the car is not moving. In this case, you should take your car to a qualified mechanic who can diagnose and repair the issue.

It is important to remember that a qualified mechanic should be used to diagnose and repair any issues with your car’s AC system. Attempting to fix the problem yourself can cause further damage and increase the cost of repairs. Furthermore, bringing your car to a mechanic ensures that they have the right tools and knowledge to determine the cause of the issue and fix it quickly and efficiently.

Causes of Malfunctioning AC and The Ways To Fix It

When it comes to car issues, it is important to know what could be causing the problem to understand how to fix it. In the case of air conditioning that only works when the car is driving, there are a few common causes that you should be aware of, such as:

Problem With the Compressor

One of the most common issues with AC compressors is that they can develop leaks. These leaks can be due to various factors, including age, wear and tear, or even improper installation. If your compressor leaks, it’s important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise, the leak could cause damage to the unit or even cause it to fail completely.

Sometimes, a simple sealant can be used to fix the problem. However, in other cases, the compressor will need to be replaced. If you’re unsure how to fix this issue, it’s always best to consult a qualified technician.

Problem With Evaporator Core

Another possible cause of air conditioning that only works when you’re driving is a faulty evaporator core. This core is responsible for removing moisture from the air inside your car; if it is damaged, it can cause your AC to struggle. 

In most cases, you can fix this problem by simply cleaning the evaporator core. However, if it doesn’t work, it’s best to take it and consult an expert since doing so will undergo a complicated process, such as removing your car’s dashboard to diagnose further and inspect the issue. If the evaporator core can no longer be repaired, you must replace it as soon as possible. 

Defective or Clogged Condenser Components

If your AC malfunctions, consider checking the condenser components of your car’s AC system. The condenser is responsible for converting the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid, and if it’s not working properly, the AC will not be able to function. Another possibility is that when the evaporator coils get frozen. The evaporator coils are responsible for absorbing heat from the air; if they’re frozen, they won’t be able to do their job. You can fix this problem yourself by turning the temperature on the AC or defrosting the evaporator coils. However, if these methods don’t work, you’ll likely need to take your car to a mechanic to diagnose and repair it.

Refrigerant Is Too Low

Refrigerant is essential for keeping your car’s AC system running; if it is too low, the AC will struggle to produce cool air. This problem can often be fixed by simply adding more refrigerant, but be mindful of how much you’re adding, as too much refrigerant can cause damage to the system, so it’s best to consult your car’s manual before doing so.

Issues With AC Wiring

Wiring issues are the least likely cause of air conditioning that only works when you’re driving, but it is still possible. If your car’s wiring system is damaged, it can cause the AC to short-circuit and not function properly. In this case, you’ll need to bring your car to a mechanic to inspect and repair it. They will likely have to replace the wiring to keep your AC running again.

The Importance of Keeping Your Car’s AC in Good Working Condition

While the air conditioner in your car is not as essential as the engine, brakes, or transmission, it can make a huge difference in the comfort level of your ride. AC helps you to stay cool in warm weather, keeps the air fresh, and prevents the windows from fogging up. That’s why having a functional air conditioner in your car is important.

Additionally, if you have a well-maintained and functioning air conditioner, you can ensure that your car’s interior is protected from mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can cause an unpleasant odor and health issues if exposed to the spores over an extended period. Also, when the AC is running smoothly, it helps to reduce drag on the engine, which increases fuel efficiency. This, in turn, helps to keep your car’s fuel costs down and run your car in an optimum, comfortable condition. 

Tips for Preventing Your Car’s AC From Breaking Down

Failure to maintain your car’s air conditioner can lead to some serious problems. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help ensure your car’s AC remains in good working order. Here are a few tips:

  • Have an annual checkup done by a qualified mechanic: This will help to identify any potential issues before they become serious and costly problems.
  • Check the fluid levels regularly: Checking the fluid levels of refrigerant, oil, and other fluids necessary for proper AC operation is crucial to avoid frost, strain, and damaging the compressor.
  • Make sure the vents are clean: Cleaning the air filters and vents on a regular basis helps to keep the system working properly.
  • Use the right type of refrigerant: Using the type of refrigerant that the manufacturer specifies is important to avoid compatibility issues.
  • Turn off the AC before turning off your car’s engine: If you don’t, the compressor will continue to run even after your car has been turned off, which can cause it to overheat and break down.
  • Park in the shade: Parking your car in the shade helps to keep the interior cooler and reduces the strain on the AC system.
  • Use your AC sparingly: This means turning it off when you don’t really need it, such as driving at lower speeds or when the outside temperature is cool. Running your AC unnecessarily puts additional strain on the system and can cause it to break down over time.

Final Thoughts

Following the tips above can help ensure your car’s AC remains in good working order. However, if you find that your AC isn’t working well as it should be, or is only blowing out warm air when you turn it on, then it may be time to take your car to a qualified mechanic for a thorough inspection. Remember that taking good care of your car’s AC and servicing it regularly will help you keep cool and comfortable on the road and reduce fuel costs. So make sure to take good care of your car’s air conditioner.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.