Feeling the heat?

Special to Land Line

Too often a truck’s air conditioning system gets attention only after it won’t blow cold air. By then, you’re looking at a costly repair instead of planned downtime and preventive maintenance.

Ryan Baker, director of aftermarket sales for Red Dot, the industry’s leading supplier of heavy-duty air conditioning systems for trucks and off-highway equipment, says it doesn’t take special tools or skills to perform a basic A/C inspection. He offers the following list of preventive maintenance items anyone can do:

  • Check cab air filters for dust, hair, carpet fibers, and other contaminants. Dirt can restrict air flow and interfere with the evaporator core. Vacuum away dirt if necessary and replace the filter at recommended intervals.
  • Carefully remove dust, bugs, mud and other debris from the condenser fins and tubes. Use a fin comb, compressed air, or soap and water. Don’t use a high-pressure hose, which can damage fins and disrupt airflow across the condenser.
  • Inspect the coolant hose. With the system off, squeeze the hose near the end between your thumb and fingers to gauge its firmness. Also feel for scruffs, gouges, bulges, abrasions, moisture, or excess dirt and grime, especially around fittings, clamps, and connections. Replace a hose that’s spongey or showing signs of wear.
  • Locate the A/C compressor. With the system off, feel for oil or dirt around the shaft seal and for glazing or cracking on the belts. At the same time, look for discoloration on the face of the clutch hub. Any one of these is a sign of heat or potential failure, and the compressor should be checked by a qualified A/C technician.

Finally, while anyone can do a basic visual check, A/C repair is not a do-it-yourself job. See a qualified technician whenever it’s necessary to open the system or test for leaks. LL