Tech Tips From RedDot – Heavy-duty A/C components rarely fail. In fact, the system fails the components because of contaminated refrigerant oil and general lack of preventive maintenance.
One of the best ways to improve uptime and reduce maintenance costs for the customer is to promote a basic visual check of major A/C components, hose connections, and fittings at regular intervals, like with every engine-oil change. This inspection routine has another benefit: it can generate business for your parts and service department.
Many A/C components are consumable items. It’s more cost-effective to replace them than to repair them. So preventive maintenance is an opportunity to sell a range of OEM-quality all-makes replacement parts for the air conditioner. Here are some examples:
1. RECEIVER DRIERS
The receiver-drier’s moisture indicator provides a quick visual cue about the refrigerant’s condition: a blue dot means the refrigerant is dry; pink, white, or grey indicates acid or moisture in the system. Checking the sight glass during an oil change or any scheduled maintenance procedure means the truck can receive necessary service while it’s there in the shop, before moisture and acid damage critical A/C components and lead to a failure on the road.
Dust, bugs, feathers, and other debris collect on the face of fins and tubes and act as a thermal barrier, making it hard for the condenser to shed heat. Condensers also fail because of vibration, which can cause hose connections to come loose and fatigue the condenser tubing adjacent to the fittings. Every 12 months, the condenser should be cleaned (taking special care not to bend or damage the fins) and the hose connections securely clamped.
3. COMPRESSOR/CLUTCH ASSEMBLY
The compressor provides the mechanical energy to circulate refrigerant and manipulate the pressure inside the system. It’s the heart of the A/C system, and the No. 1 HVAC maintenance expense item. Excessive noise and poor cooling performance are the two most obvious symptoms that a compressor is failing. Replacing the compressor involves pulling down the system, which adds refrigerant recovery and recharge to the repair cost.
Next time you see, “A/C won’t blow cold air” on a work order, note that the repair and downtime probably could have been avoided with a simple visual inspection of the truck’s air conditioning system. Any time you change the truck’s oil, check the A/C.