How does a car’s air conditioning system work?

I just had my car’s air conditioning serviced, and the mechanic explained what he had to fix or replace, but it was confusing and a bit too complex for me to understand. However, I am curious, how does a car’s air conditioning system work?

Most people now take air conditioning for granted in their car and don’t pay it any mind. However, it’s an interesting process that works by manipulating a refrigerant between a liquid and gaseous state.
Below are the major components and the process that results in a cooled car:
  • The compressor is the unit’s power system and separates the low-pressure side from the high-pressure side. It is mounted towards the front of the engine, takes in low-pressure gas, and compresses it into a high-pressure and high-temperature gas.
  • The condenser is mounted behind the grill and uses forced air to reduce the gaseous refrigerant’s temperature and turn it into a liquid while maintaining high pressure.
  • The dryer or receiver is mounted on the high-pressure side of the system and removes water from the refrigerant.
  • The metering device is an expansion valve or fixed orifice tube located on the high-pressure side of the system that lowers the refrigerant pressure and temperature. The refrigerant leaves in liquid form.
  • The evaporator is mounted inside the passenger compartment and causes a cooling effect by changing the refrigerant back into a gaseous state.
  • The cabin air is cooled and dried as it blows across the evaporator.
Understanding how a car’s air conditioning system works is pretty cool (pun intended), but what’s even cooler is saving money. If you want to save money on car insurance, the Jerry app is a good place to start. A licensed broker, Jerry does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies and buying new car insurance. Jerry will even help you cancel your old policy.
Jack Walsh
Answered on Nov 24, 2021

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