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Why Is My Honda CR-V’s AC Blowing Warm Air?

BY: Dario DiGiuseppe
A woman in her daughter riding in the car with the windows down

For many around the country during the summer months, cruising down the road with your Honda CR-V’s air conditioning, blasting cold air is a necessity. Unfortunately, the air conditioning system within a vehicle is complex, and any small issue can cause that cool air to stop.

Should you notice that your Honda CR-V is pumping out warm air or perhaps not working at all, rest assured knowing this article will cover everything you need to know to fix your AC system.

The Cold Hard Facts: Understanding AC Systems

Ahead of diving into the reasons behind why your AC is blowing warm air, it’s worth starting by understanding exactly how air conditioning works. From a high level, imagine a closed loop filled with refrigerant, a specially formulated liquid that acts as the lifeblood of the system. As this liquid moves through the system, each of the following parts plays a key role:

  • The Compressor: This component sits at the heart of the air conditioning system and utilizes engine power to compress refrigerant gas into a hot and high-pressure liquid. This process generates a significant amount of heat, which is why the compressor is typically located near the front of the vehicle.
  • The Condenser: The next component in the system is the condenser, which is usually located just behind the grille of your CR-V. Its job is to dissipate the heat extracted from the compressed refrigerant. The condenser has fins that maximize its surface area, thus allowing air flowing through the front grille to absorb the heat and carry it from the system.
  • The Evaporator: Going further, the evaporator is essentially a heat sponge. The high-pressure liquid refrigerant from the condenser enters the evaporator through an expansion valve where it is then rapidly evaporated, turning it into a cool gas. From there, the cool air is circulated through the cabin.
  • The Expansion Valve: The valve mentioned earlier plays a critical role in regulating the pressure and temperature within the air conditioning system by controlling the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator.

This movement cycle for the refrigerant continues endlessly thanks to a lubricant carried within the refrigerant that keeps all the parts functioning smoothly. However, as with any complex system under the hood, anything can go wrong.

Chilling Challenges: Common Causes of Warm Air

Now that you have developed an understanding of how the air conditioning system under your hood works, it’s time to dive into the common problems that cause a faulty AC:

Refrigerant Leaks

As mentioned earlier, the refrigerant is essentially the lifeblood of the AC system. Leaks can cause a significant drop in refrigerant levels, thus compromising the system’s ability to cool your CR-V effectively. Below are a couple of key signs that your vehicle may be leaking refrigerant or freon:

  • Visible Fluid: Look around underneath your vehicle for oily residue or freon, especially near the condenser and hoses.
  • Hissing Sounds: Should you notice any hissing noises coming from the AC system, it may be indicative of escaping refrigerant. The sound is caused by the high-pressure gas escaping from the leak point.

A professional technician can use leak detectors to pinpoint the location of refrigerant or fluorescent dyes that a UV light can later scan for. If you suspect refrigerant is leaking, don’t attempt to fix it yourself. Repairing leaks will involve locating the source, patching the leak point, and then recharging the system with the right amount of refrigerant.

Faulty Compressors

The compressor mentioned before plays a crucial role in circulating the refrigerant under the hood. If it malfunctions, the entire system can quickly grind to a halt. Below are some of the most notable signs that something is wrong with your AC compressor:

  • Unusual Noises: Any type of grinding, clunking, or whining sound coming from the engine bay could be indicative of a faulty compressor.
  • Decreased Airflow: Even if you notice cool air coming out, a weak compressor may struggle to maintain sufficient airflow for long.
  • Clutch Issues: In some CR-Vs, the compressor utilizes a clutch mechanism to engage and disengage from the engine. A failing compressor clutch can prevent the compressor from working, resulting in no cool air.

Again, a qualified technician will be required in order to diagnose compressor issues in your Honda CR-V AC. They may utilize a visual inspection to look for signs of damage or loose connections, performance tests using specialized gauges to measure refrigerant pressure at different points in the systems, or even electrical tests to see if the compressor is receiving a signal.

Repairing a compressor can be extremely expensive, but an automotive extended warranty contract can help to offset those expenses while stopping the problem of no cold air. The process will involve removing the old unit, installing a new one, and ensuring the entire system is re-calibrated, which is the cause for the large cost.

Blocked or Dirty Condensers

Imagine trying to work out in a heavy sweater on a warm summer day. That’s what happens to your condenser when clogged with dirt, leaves, or debris, which can lead to AC problems. It can’t efficiently dissipate heat, leading to warm air blowing through the vents. Here’s a more in-depth look at how to prevent this issue, as luckily, you don’t necessarily need a mechanic to prevent it:

Regular Inspections: Schedule routine maintenance checks, typically every 12 months or 15,000 miles, to ensure the condenser is clean and free of obstructions. This is especially important before the summer season, when the AC system is used more frequently.

DIY Cleaning (with Extreme Caution): If you’re comfortable, you can carefully remove debris from the condenser fins using a soft brush and compressed air. Important: Never use sharp objects or water directly on the condenser, as it can damage the delicate fins. Here’s a step-by-step guide for DIY cleaning:

  1. Park your CR-V in a shaded area and turn off the engine.
  2. Locate the condenser behind the grille. Consult your CR-V’s owner’s manual for the exact location.
  3. Carefully remove any large debris like leaves or twigs from the condenser fins. Using a soft brush or compressed air nozzle set on a low pressure setting, gently brush away any dust or dirt accumulated on the fins. Work from the inside out to avoid pushing debris further into the condenser. Avoid bending or straightening the condenser fins, as this can hinder airflow.

Turning Up the Heat: Other Potential Issues

While the above culprits are the most common reasons for warm AC or an AC not working, there are a few other possibilities that can cause your CR-V to blow hot air:

  • Electrical Problems: Faulty wiring or blown fuses can disrupt the electrical signals that control the AC system. Various sensors and electronic components rely on these signals to function properly. A technician will use specialized tools to diagnose electrical issues and pinpoint the exact cause of the problem
  • Malfunctioning Fans: The condenser and cabin fans play a vital role in the cooling process. The condenser fan helps draw air through the condenser fins to dissipate heat. The cabin fan circulates the cool air produced by the evaporator throughout the vehicle’s interior. A malfunctioning fan, either due to a burnt-out motor or a faulty electrical connection, can significantly reduce the AC system’s efficiency.
  • Thermostat Issues: A faulty thermostat might not be sending the correct signal to activate the AC system, even when you set it to cool. The thermostat controls the system’s on-and-off cycles based on the desired cabin temperature. A malfunctioning thermostat can lead to the AC system not engaging at all or not reaching the desired cooling level.

Cool Solutions: 3 Troubleshooting Tips and Repairs

While you should never be making major repairs on your own, there are some quick troubleshooting tasks any CR-V owner can handle:

  1. Check the AC settings: First and foremost, ensure your AC is turned on and that the temperature is set to a cool level. User error may actually be your culprit.
  2. Visually inspect belts and hoses: Without taking anything apart, look under your hood at the AC belts and hoses. Cracks, leaks, and loose connections are relatively easy to spot, meaning you can point out any concerning signs to a technician.
  3. Clear any obstructions: As covered earlier, you can check the condenser for any visible debris that may be blocking airflow. Feel free to check the cabin air filter as well.

The Extended Warranty Edge: Protection from the Heat

At the end of the day, we have to face the fact that all vehicles will have problems eventually regardless of how reliable the car is. Certain repairs, such as those concerning the air conditioning system, can be quite expensive. Luckily, an extended warranty or vehicle service contract from a reputable company, such as Endurance, can change the game by providing valuable protection against unexpected AC breakdowns all while saving you money.

Having an extended warranty contract that covers the air conditioning system means you can have peace of mind on the road, especially during the scorching summer months. You don’t need to worry about the financial burden of a major AC repair bill because your warranty contract will cover the costs. Additionally, warranties typically offer part-by-part coverage, such as for the compressor, condenser, evaporator, or just the entire system, meaning specific repairs will be covered, too.

Top-of-the-line providers like Endurance also offer a variety of coverage options to choose from, meaning you can tailor any plan to fit your specific needs on the road. Perhaps you only need the most important components in your Honda CR-V covered via a high-level stated coverage plan, or perhaps you are seeking something more comprehensive. Either way, there’s a contract for you.

The icing on this massive cake is the fact we work with a nationwide network of certified repair shops, meaning you can take your CR-V to a trusted location that accepts your warranty.

Protect Your Honda CR-V with Endurance Warranty

Don’t let a malfunctioning AC system turn your Honda CR-V into an uncomfortable sauna on wheels. By understanding the common issues behind why warm air is coming from your AC vents and taking action quickly, you can get back to enjoying cool air. Remember that for anything beyond basic troubleshooting, it’s best to contact a certified technician to run diagnostics and tackle the issue.

Many of Endurance Warranty’s contracts include coverage for vital components within the air conditioning system, including the Supreme, Superior, and Secure Plus plans, to help you save on auto repairs. In addition to protecting your air conditioning system, Endurance’s contracts offer protection for components ranging from simple, stated coverage all the way up to near bumper-to-bumper coverage. On top of this, all Endurance contracts come with Elite Benefits, which offer bonus perks such as up to $1,000 in total loss protection, reimbursements for up to four tires per year due to road hazards, and much more.

To see how Endurance can help protect your beloved Honda CR-V, contact our plan advisors at (800) 253-8203 to request a FREE quote. You can also shop online to get an instant price estimate based on your needs and budget.

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