Van Nuys Auto Repair & Service Center

Part I: Is Your Car’s AC Making a Racket?

Part I: Is Your Car’s AC Making a Racket?

This blog is part one of a two-part series on automobile air conditioning systems. Part I will focus on what to look out for if your air conditioning problem. Part II will offer solutions to those challenges.

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid

As restrictions for COVID loosen up throughout California, temperatures are rising, and we could be in for one sweltering, uncomfortable summer. The heat could become an even more significant factor if your vehicle’s air conditioning is not working well. Is your car’s AC making a racket?

Caryn, who has been a client of our auto repair shop for several years, called me the other morning. I could tell she was irritated.

“I was in my car, and I turned on the air conditioning, and I heard a loud noise. I’m not sure if the sound is connected with turning on my AC or not, but I’m a bit nervous about driving the car anywhere. Can you send a tow truck?

Before this, Caryn had not brought her car to the auto repair shop for over a year; that’s a long time between maintenance checks. However, she was being extremely careful during COVID and was not using her car as much as she had in the past.

I asked her to describe the noise and followed up with another question. “Any other issues with the AC?”

Caryn admitted that the system blew hot and cold at whim. “It’s fickled.”

We did our Car and Truck Courtesy Check in which we visually check 38 vehicle points, including the AC. The visual inspection allowed me to see that it wasn’t a disconnected or frayed wire. It had to be something with the AC compressor. I asked Caryn if she noticed anything else when she turned on the AC. She said there was a moldy odor. This information helped me get closer to a diagnosis.

How Can You Tell If Your Air Conditioning System is Malfunctioning?

People often ask me how they will know if their vehicle’s air conditioning system is working well. I tell them: “Believe me, if it isn’t, you’ll know. All you have to do is use your senses.” Here a few tell-tale signs:


One of the first things you may want to do is to give your AC condenser, between the front bumper the radiator, a visual once over. Be careful. Please make sure the car motor is not engaged. If you see any dirt or debris, clean it off. Or bring it in to our shop and we’ll check it out for you.


Odd noises are another tell-tale clue that something may be wrong with your AC filtration unit. Due to its positioning under the hood, it is prone to be hit by gravel, dirt and dust. These elements can cause either damage or clog up the AC.


Pay attention to the air pressure. Try the low and high settings and see how the airflow changes. There are several reasons why your A/C may be malfunctioning, including:

  • loose or broken seals
  • loose AC compressor belt
  • mold or mildew
  • broken or noisy blower motor in the dash

If your unit is blowing anything but ice-cold air, it may have a:

  • vacuum leak
  • failure in the compressor  
  • clog in the refrigerant charging hose or the expansion tube
  • damage to the evaporator or condenser
  • Freon leak
  • failure in the blower motor


A foul odor coming out of your car’s AC may indicate a problem with the compressor, a dirty air cabin filter, or even mold in the evaporator case.

Bring Your Car to AutoAid

At what point should you take your car to an auto repair shop to have it checked out? If you see, hear, smell or feel any inconsistencies in your automobile’s air conditioning system, contact AutoAid immediately.

Our ASE-approved technicians will bring your air conditioning back to life. Depending on the work that needs to be done, ask us about our car repair financing, which helps you get the repairs you need when you need them.

Caryn told me she regretted not bringing her car in earlier to have the AC problem addressed, but that was water under the bridge. We would have to use our senses and other diagnostic tools to address the strange noise in Caryn’s car.

In Part II of this article, we will reveal what happened with Caryn’s car. We will also provide tips on maintaining your vehicle air conditioning unit to avoid many of the issues discussed above. 


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