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Air Conditioning and Battery Maintenance

With the hot, humid weather of summer right around the corner, many of you may notice your air conditioner doesn’t put out cold air like it used to. Some vehicle owners, depending on their make and model, may have to spend a few hundred dollars or more to repair their air conditioning. The reason is that R-12 refrigerant, which goes by the trade name DuPont Freon, has been replaced by R-134a. R-134a has been the industry standard since 1994 and is safer for the environment than R-12.

If you have an older vehicle with an air conditioner in need of major repairs, be prepared to replace refrigerant and the oil in the compressor in addition to the old components. It may also be necessary to install a retrofit conversion. R-134a and R-12 are not inter-changeable. Do not allow anyone to mix the two refrigerants. An air conditioning system with R-12 must be flushed before R-134a is added.

To help prevent expensive repairs, have your vehicle’s air conditioning system inspected annually. It will help keep you comfortable this summer and help protect the environment.

The excessive heat, along with overcharging, will also shorten the life of your battery. Heat causes the fluid in your battery to evaporate. As a result, the internal structure of the battery will be damaged. If a component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, is malfunctioning, the battery will charge at too high a rate. Eventually, you will have a dead battery.

In order to avoid the cost of a road service call and a new battery, the following tips might be beneficial.

1. If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.

2. Keep the top of the battery and the terminals clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Corrosion on battery terminals becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.

3. Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage the battery as quickly as undercharging.

4. Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.

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