Is My Car A/C Broken?

How to tell if your A/C is broken, or just needs recharging!

As Summer rolls around, you may find yourself having trouble beating the heat. Don’t sweat it just yet, you may not need to spend too much to get it FIXD. Let’s look at some of the ways to determine if your A/C needs repair, or just recharging.

The way car air conditioners work is similar to your home’s air conditioning. The air conditioner is a closed system that condenses and evaporates a refrigerant in order to cool down the air before it blows through your vents. What a “closed system” means, is that the inside of the A/C is closed off from exterior pressures to function properly. So, if your A/C isn’t blowing cold air, it could be a variety of problems, some easy to repair and some more expensive than others.


Just need a recharge?

Just to be clear, “recharge” has nothing to do with a battery in the A/C system. This refers to adding more refrigerant to the system, meaning some was lost due to a leak somewhere in the closed system. Many people think that an old A/C just needs a quick recharge and is good to go, but that is unfortunately not true. However, there are some ways to identify a leak in the system so that you can fix them and then recharge the A/C. Here are some signs that may mean your A/C is need of a repair.


  1. No air coming from vents. If your A/C does not blow any air at all when the car is running, and the fan is turned on, there could be an issue. If you are getting no air at all from the vents, there is likely a problem with a fan or pump somewhere in the system.
  2. Strange noises. Are you hearing strange noises coming from the vents when you turn the A/C on? This could be a number of issues, from a clogged-up system to a broken fan. Either one is not a good thing, and most likely needs the touch of a mechanic to take care of.
  3. Foul smells. Does the air coming out of the vents have a nasty smell to it? If so, that could be a sign of mold growth within the system. There is a lot of condensation and evaporation going on in an A/C system, and sometimes that condensation can cause mold growth. That mold can build up over time and clog up the system leading to some malfunctions. If this is happening, I would advise not running the A/C at all since mold can cause respiratory issues, especially if you or a passenger is allergic.
  4. Water stains inside the car. Seeing water drip from the bottom of your car on a hot day is normal since there is a drain beneath the car for the condensation coming from the A/C unit. However, if there are water stains on the inside of your car, that could be due to a clog in the drain.
  5. Warm air coming from vents. Low pressure or warm air coming from the vents could be the sign of a leak in the system. Usually, these leaks are small and hard to identify, but it is possible to do at home using an A/C dye specifically designed for finding leaks. However, if you don’t feel up to the task, a professional will certainly be able to help you out.


A leak in your A/C will continue to cost you money if you don’t have it FIXD, but if you are set on not spending the money and just want a quick and easy fix… you CAN add refrigerant with an A/C refill canister. It’s not too expensive, and you can do it in your garage with little experience. However, this is by no means a permanent fix to your problem, and it will come up again in a matter of time! Whatever you decide, do it quick so you don’t have to mess up that pretty hair driving to work with the windows down!

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Comments 6

Theresa L

June 5, 2018

My condenser has been audibly cyclying off and on, and when it cycles on the fan blows a little more forcefully. Can’t quite tell if the blown air temp is different… What might be going on, this started about a month ago, when it became necessary to start using the A/C.


July 16, 2018

Will the device fixd be able to tell what is wrong with my AC? My AC blow out hot air instead of cold air.

FIXD Marketing

July 18, 2018

Hi Lien,

Unfortunately no, the FIXD sensor along with the app translates your check engine light into simple and understandable terms. A possible fix to your A/C could be to add refrigerant so that it may blow cool air.

Thank you,
The FIXD Team

Anggi Stephen

September 7, 2018

My a.c. and temp gauge both stop working at same time. When I clear the code 0128 – they both start working again – for a while – and then they both stop again. Any ideas? When I have fan turned to off – there is still air blowing through vents. I don’t know if that’s part of problem or not.


May 20, 2019

I am buying a 2015 Jetta and the dealership is telling me the ac just needs Freon. Will the ac work if it actually needs a new compressor?

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