Hyundai AC Repair

Hyundai Kona Interior Air Conditioning

How Auto Air Conditioning Works and What It Means If It Stops Working

Automotive air conditioning systems work by removing humidity from the air and then cooling it before delivering it into the passenger cabin. How yours works depends on what type of air conditioning system is in your vehicle. In this article, we introduce you to the three types of auto AC systems, identify their components, and describe how we diagnose common AC problems.

What type of AC system does my vehicle have?

There are three types of AC systems found in most passenger vehicles: orifice tube and accumulator, expansion valve and receiver dryer, and the combination system. Auto AC systems have a low pressure side and a high pressure side function. The high pressure side moves air from the engine to the passenger compartment. The low pressure side is where the cooling takes place. Air, moisture, and refrigerant is moved through hoses as it cycles between the compressor, condenser, and evaporator core. Here is where the systems differ in operation.

Orifice tube and accumulator AC system

On the high pressure side, the refrigerant is passed through an orifice tube before entering the evaporator core. On the low pressure side, the cooled refrigerant is deposited into the AC accumulator before cycling through the compressor and back into the condenser.

Expansion valve and receiver dryer AC system

On the high pressure side, the receiver dryer absorbs moisture before the refrigerant flows into the expansion valve. From the expansion valve, refrigerant enters the evaporator core as a finer mist where it is cooled and cycled back into the AC compressor.

Combination AC system

The combination system, which is found in rear AC systems, is a cross between the orifice tube and expansion valve types.

What are the components of auto AC systems?

The components that are common to all AC systems include:

  • Refrigerant – Also known as Freon, changes from a gaseous to liquid state as it cycles through your AC system. Without the proper refrigerant levels, your cabin air will not cool properly.
  • Compressor – Here is where the hot refrigerant is compressed into gas and sent to the condenser
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  • Condenser – The refrigerant gas passes over the condenser coils and is changed into a cold liquid.
  • Evaporator core – The liquid refrigerant flows through the evaporator core where a blower moves air across the cold tubing before delivering it to the passenger cabin.
  • Inline filter – This filter traps debris and keeps it from entering and damaging the hoses and AC lines.

System specific components are:

  • Orifice tube – The orifice tube is where refrigerant changes from high pressure to low pressure liquid.
  • Accumulator – After the Freon leaves the evaporator in the orifice tube AC system, it’s stored in the accumulator where moisture is removed.
  • Receiver dryer – Moisture is absorbed in the receiver dryer before allowing refrigerant to pass through the AC system.
  • Expansion valve – In a receiver dryer AC system, the expansion valve is the point where refrigerant changes from high to low pressure before entering the evaporator.

How can I tell if there’s a problem with my car’s AC?

Hyundai Kona Front ExteriorIf you’re not getting cold air when you turn your AC on, the problem could be inadequate refrigerant levels, AC line leaks, or a faulty compressor. Your auto service professional will check the radiator, condenser, and cooling fans. They’ll also check the filter for debris, look for leaks in the AC lines, and check the voltage on the compressor. Since vehicle AC systems have so many parts, you should have your system inspected and serviced regularly to prevent major breakdowns and to keep the components in good working order.


Vandergriff Hyundai

1120 I-20 West
Directions Arlington, TX 76017

  • Phone: 844-879-9567

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