Diagnosing and repairing an air-conditioning problem in a Ford vehicle is a difficult process---in fact, whole semesters are spent at tech colleges teaching students precisely how to do this. However, when it comes to paying for repairs to heating and air conditioning in Ford models, many find that AC issues are misdiagnosed and mistreated, costing customers extra money on unnecessary parts and labors. Knowing how to diagnose and, if possible, repair AC issues in Ford vehicles can often save a car owner time, money and hassle.
Air Management Systems
Generally speaking, air-conditioning problems in Ford vehicles have their roots in two specific systems: the air management aystem and the refrigerant cycling system. The air management aystem is the first which should be checked, because some of the problems are relatively simple to diagnose. For example, if the buttons and controls don't work, show too much resistance, or show little to no resistance, the problem may be electrical. (Electrical problems are covered in the final section.) In the case of no airflow, however, the fuse box should be checked for blown fuses. A blown fuse is an easy and inexpensive fix---you can simply obtain a fuse of the same rating from an auto store and replace---if it does not happen repeatedly. Electrical and circuitry problems are often the result of repeated failure. Blower fan fuses are often the first to go and can indicate a problem with the motor, which, depending on the model, can be simple to replace. You should consult the owner's manual for instructions if a faulty blower motor is the issue. Heater valves and vacuum system supply lines, which regulate the temperature and direction of airflow, are easy to locate with the help of a service manual and can be replaced inexpensively.
Refrigerant Cooling Systems
These systems are located under the hood of the car and should be checked second, after the air management aystem has been inspected. An owner's manual must be consulted at the outset, as precise schematics and directions for troubleshooting may be included. Replacing a missing or broken compressor drive belt is a very simple fix once located and diagnosed, and will save a costly trip to a mechanic. (You should not forget the Internet---instructional videos on reinstalling the serpentine belt on a Ford compression system are easy to find.) Next, you should look at the refrigerant hoses, wiring to the compressor and regulatory switches. Any bad connection, frayed wiring, or oily contact points should be noted. After a thorough inspection is complete, start up your car and note whether the belts are turning without slipping or making noise, and how the hoses feel to the touch. The large one should feel cool; the small one, warm. Any irregular turning, stopping and starting, or stuttering on the part of the belt may indicate a more serious problem.
When to Call the Mechanic
Should close investigation yield no results, it may be time to take the vehicle to a qualified mechanic. If, after all other options have been exhausted, airflow continues through the vents but feels lukewarm, the problem may be the air blend system, which requires an experienced air system mechanic to fix. If the drive hub is off-center, broken, badly rusted, or doesn't work at all---that is, if the entire compression system has failed---only a mechanic will be able to fix it (and unfortunately, these repairs usually don't come cheap). Before the car is taken to a mechanic, though, you should call a mechanic and thoroughly explain the symptoms and the systems checked. A good mechanic will help an individual to decide how best to proceed, even if the repairs can be made on a do-it-yourself basis.
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