Kelly's Garage - Active Green and Ross - May 2011


I’m sure you’ve already had your air conditioning going but probably not too often as it feels like the warm weather is never going to get here!

Since this month’s topic is air conditioning, I thought I would share with you what it was like to sit in a race car for 300 laps WITHOUT air conditioning on a hot summer day Imagine this, you are wearing your snow suit, the windows are closed and the heater is turned on full blast, and by the way you have to drive in rush hour traffic for 2-2.5 hours passing every car you can! That’s what it was like in my race car. I did however have a system that would blow cool air into my helmet which was helpful but it didn’t last the entire race. When I would open the visor on my helmet it was like the blast of heat you get when you open the oven door! Being physically fit was very important to being able to concentrate while enduring the extreme heat. Having air conditioning in your own vehicle can also help you endure extreme driving conditions such as rush hour rather than wear you out!

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This month's topic: Air Conditioning

Air conditioning in vehicles is something many of us take for granted but this wasn’t always the case as you will read in the “Did you know?” section. If I can give you one piece of advice, don’t wait for the hottest day of summer to decide to get your AC fixed. There will likely be a line up ahead of you at your local Active Green and Ross since that is what everyone else will probably be doing.

Some vehicles have climate control which automatically keeps your vehicle at the temperature you have set it to. On other vehicles you will have to manually adjust the temperature to your liking. In either case the AC system is the same. There are three main components of your vehicles air conditioning system. You have the compressor, condenser and evaporator. If there is an issue with your AC not working it will likely be one of these three components. There are also two types of refrigerant: R12 and R134-a.

Let’s talk about the three main component first and then the refrigerant. The first of these components is the compressor. The compressor is considered the heart of your AC system and it is belt driven. (Usually by the serpentine belt) This is why if the serpentine belt were to come while you were driving you would lose your AC. The compressor is responsible for compressing and transferring refrigerant gas.

The condenser is the second component and it is responsible for heat dissipation and will look like a miniature radiator. In many cases it is located in front of the vehicles radiator as it needs good air flow. In some vehicles if condenser isn’t located in front of the radiator it will have a separate electric fan in front of it to give good air flow.

The evaporator is the third main component and it is usually located inside the vehicle. Its’ job is to absorb the heat from the interior. It also acts as a dehumidifier and this is why you will see water on the ground under your vehicle while it is running or after you shut it off.

So those are the primary components of your air conditioning system. Now let’s talk about the refrigerant. There are two types of refrigerant used in vehicles, although the first is rapidly declining. There is R12 (also known as Freon) and R134a. Vehicles built before 1993 have R12 and vehicles built after 1994 have R134a. R12 production ceased at the end of 1995 due to environmental regulations. (Leaking Freon is what is depleting our ozone.) This is why you have to have your AC system fixed before having it recharged. In the case of older vehicles, technicians are retrofitting the R12 system to 134a since R12 isn’t as readily available, if at all. R134a is environmentally friendly as it is not ozone depleting. If your AC isn’t working I would suggest taking your vehicle to a certified technician at Active Green and Ross to have them assess what exactly is wrong. Repairing your AC system isn’t really for the Do It Yourselfer. If you decide not to have your AC repaired then be prepared to do some sweating as there is talk this will be a hotter than normal summer.

Take care of your car and it will take care of you!






1940 was the first year air conditioning (AC) was offered by a vehicle manufacturer and it was on the Packard. The cost was $274, but it was in the trunk and was inefficient. Packard discontinued the AC option in 1941. AC in the form we know it didn’t come back until the 1950’s.

This months photos:

Air conditioning system layout












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Active Green and Ross, 2910 Eglinton Ave. E, Scarborough



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