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6 AC Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid with Diesel Trucks

Photo by Caleb White

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When you leave your truck outside in the heat, it can get up to 100 degrees in the truck. With heat like that, your first instinct when you get into your car is probably to blast the AC.

Did you know that’s actually not the best way to keep cool when it’s that hot?

Keep reading to learn the six AC maintenance mistakes you’ve probably made in your diesel truck and how to avoid them.

1. Skipping AC Maintenance

The first mistake most truck owners make is not getting the heating and cooling systems checked. You may think you don’t need a shop to do it, or that it works, so you don’t have to think about it. However, it should be on the top of your mind when getting your truck maintained.

Especially with all the EPA regulations out there, you don’t want to try and maintain your diesel truck’s AC system on your own. That’s why you need to schedule regular AC maintenance for your diesel truck, so it’s always working at its best.

Having your AC checked is as important as getting your oil changed and rotating your tires. Be sure to ask the auto shop you go to about their heating and cooling services when you’re getting your truck checked next time. Since AC isn’t usually on the list of things to check, it doesn’t hurt to ask and make sure they’re taking care of that as well.

2. Not Checking or Replacing Your Engine Coolant

Engine coolant is there to keep your engine and radiator cool and run efficiently. If it’s too low, it will make your truck run hotter, which in turn lowers the efficiency of your AC system. You’ll also need to be sure you check the fan clutch drive so you know it’s pulling in enough air that it can be cooled.

Be sure to check with your truck maintenance technician to see how to properly maintain your engine coolant and figure out when the coolant needs to be replaced.

3. Not Visually Examining Air Conditioner Parts for Leaks

Always checking and looking closer into your truck before it’s too late can help prevent many issues down the line. A typical inspection should start by looking at any leaks in the hose connections or with the compressor. AC units contain oil and refrigerant. When a leak happens, it takes the oil out with the refrigerant.

The refrigerant will evaporate before you can see it, but the oil will stick at the site and is your indication that something’s wrong. If you see oil under your car, this could mean you’re losing refrigerant and oil, which will cause damage to your compressor down the line.

There are two ways you can check if your refrigerant is leaking. The first is using a dye that’s added to the refrigerant that can be seen with ultraviolet light – letting you know if the leak is there. The other method uses a sniffer or electric leak detector, and it emits noise if it senses refrigerant vapors in the air from the leak.

4. Blasting the AC Immediately

We know it’s hot out, and you want to be cool as soon as possible, but immediately blasting the AC is not the best way to do this. Instead, roll down all of your windows and start driving to let the heat escape. Once some of the heat gets out, you can close them up and turn your AC on.

To prevent your truck from getting too hot to begin with, try parking in the shade, or facing away from the sun. When you have leather seats, put down a towel on your seat before leaving so you won’t burn your legs when you get back in. If you have to park in the sun, invest in one of those window shields and remember to put it up before you go for long periods.

Doing all of this will help you beat the California heat and be more comfortable driving your truck.

5. Pointing the Nozzles Incorrectly

It may seem obvious to point the nozzles directly at you, but this won’t help the air get circulated throughout the truck evenly. It’s also a little unfair to the people sitting in the back sweating because they don’t have any air on them, and none is coming.

One of the best ways to get your truck cooler faster and prevent your AC unit from working too hard is to point the nozzles directly up toward the ceiling instead of at your face.

6. Not Using the Recirculation Button

Take a look at your dash; notice the button near your AC controls that looks like a circle? When on, that button will take air that’s in your cabin and recirculate it through your AC system, cooling it again. That’s your truck’s air re-circulation feature, and it’s often not used and ignored.

When you don’t use this, your system will always take the hot air from outside the car and cool it. On scorching days, this could mean your truck is never getting cool.

Also, this causes more strain on your AC unit, making it work harder and be less effective. Give your truck a break and turn the re-circulation on.

Prevent These AC Maintenance Mistakes Today

Now that you know the six most common AC maintenance mistakes people make with their diesel trucks, be sure to take steps to prevent them today. Remember to schedule regular AC maintenance and let your car air out before turning the AC on.

If you realize that you need to get your truck in, contact us and schedule an appointment today! We’ve been taking care of trucks in California for years and can’t wait to help you too.

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