Signs of a Bad Air Conditioning Hose
An air conditioning (or A/C) hose is a specially constructed, high-pressure rubber hose with special aluminum fittings crimped onto each end. Its purpose is to transport refrigerant from the engine-mounted A/C compressor to the body-mounted components of your A/C system, where the refrigerant cools the air before it enters the interior.Because your air conditioning hose is subjected to very high refrigerant pressures, it can eventually fail and cause problems for your A/C system.
Signs of a bad air conditioning hose
There are two basic ways to tell whether you have a bad air conditioning hose. Let’s review what they are:
Your air conditioning is not blowing cool air through the dashboard vents: This is usually the first sign that you have a bad air conditioning hose. The hose may have come loose, been damaged, or be worn out. The resulting loss of refrigerant drastically reduces your A/C’s cooling power. Your mechanic can identify the exact cause of your bad air conditioning hose and fix it.
You see your air conditioning hose is damaged: If you’re familiar enough under the hood of your car to be able to identify your air conditioning hose, then you may be able to see a physical problem that needs to be fixed. This can include any or all of the following issues:
- Abrasions, cracks, cuts, tears, or breaks
- Visible leaking or dripping of refrigerant from the air conditioning hose
- Leakage from where the hose connects at either end
- Exposed threads on the connections at either end of the hose (loose connection)
Should you drive your car with a bad A/C hose?
While driving your car with a bad air conditioning hose is not strictly a safety issue, there are some other important considerations. One is that driving without A/C in hot weather is a draining, unpleasant experience that can affect your alertness behind the wheel.
Another is that a bad air conditioning hose can expose the inner workings of your A/C system to moisture and other contaminants. The best (and least expensive) course of action is to get your car to a mechanic ASAP, and get your bad hose fixed.
How do you fix a bad air conditioning hose?
Your mechanic will first want to test your A/C system for leaks, and thereby determine the source of the loss of refrigerant. If the mechanic finds that you have a bad air conditioning hose, he must go through a specific process that is mandated by federal law. This process keeps the refrigerant from escaping into the atmosphere, where it can damage the Earth’s ozone layer. These are the steps of the process, listed in order:
- Recover the old refrigerant left in the A/C system
- Replace your bad air conditioning hose
- Create a vacuum in your A/C system
- Recharge your A/C system with refrigerant
- Check that the system is sealed and has no leaks
- Verify that your A/C system is blowing cool air through the vents
Can you replace a bad air conditioning hose?
Unless you have an EPA-approved Section 608 License or a universal refrigerant handler’s license, absolutely not! It is illegal to vent refrigerant into the atmosphere, so you must be licensed to handle it. Without a doubt, this is a job for your mechanic, who has the tools and expertise to replace a bad air conditioning hose properly — and legally!