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Old 08-15-2012, 08:35 PM   #1
klewthekid
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Default '98 S70 Volvo A/C improvement

hi,

i'm admittedly a newb and my car care ability is not novice but not much more than being able to put in a stereo and subwoofer and change the oil, filters, and bulbs in my car.

i have a '98 S70 volvo sedan with about 160K miles. my A/C unit doesn't blow very cold air particularly when it gets very warm (85+) outside. is this normal? due to age of vehicle and system?

my question is how to improve the ability for it to cool the car?


thanks in advance.
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:56 PM   #2
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Not normal. My own '98 S70 is ice cold.

If the system gets cold when you're moving but not when you're sitting still then it could be the radiator fans not triggering. If it's just warm all the time it's probably a little bit leaky and you've lost some refrigerant.

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Old 08-15-2012, 09:26 PM   #3
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Check the coolant levels first, then try recharging the system. If the recharging fixes it but the fix doesn't last too long it's probably a leak.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:23 PM   #4
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Check the coolant levels first, then try recharging the system. If the recharging fixes it but the fix doesn't last too long it's probably a leak.
What does the coolant level have to do with anything? There's no coolant anywhere in the A/C system.

As I said, the system is probably leaking slowly and needs refrigerant.

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:10 AM   #5
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What does the coolant level have to do with anything? There's no coolant anywhere in the A/C system.

As I said, the system is probably leaking slowly and needs refrigerant.

ZV
err.. I must have been thinking the other way around. Once my old car wouldn't blow hot air consistently till I put coolant in.
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Zenmervolt View Post
What does the coolant level have to do with anything? There's no coolant anywhere in the A/C system.

As I said, the system is probably leaking slowly and needs refrigerant.

ZV
While there is no coolant in the AC system, AC not running at idle can be indicative of low coolant. I've experienced this problem in my Impala. Stopped at a light, it starts blowing warm. You start moving again, and it blows cold. Fill up the coolant to the fill line, and it blows cold all the time.

I dunno if that something a lot of cars do, or newer cars, or what. But a quick google will show you that low coolant can cause some A/C symptoms. I assume it is engineered that way to allow the driver to know something is wrong. Granted, a low coolant light is likely much more effective (my older jeep does that), but suffice it to say, coolant level can have an affect on the A/C system in some vehicles.
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Old 08-16-2012, 10:07 AM   #7
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The engine coolant level should normally have no effect on the A/C system.

The only way I can see that is if the coolant level is so low that it has triggered a "low coolant" alarm in the PCM, and the PCM has disabled the A/C. In such a case, you'd have a "low coolant" indication on the dash or message system.

The PCM will usually disable the A/C if the engine or trans gets too hot. But again, you would get an indication of this on the dashboard.

In these cases, you would know why the A/C was not working.
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by mvbighead View Post
While there is no coolant in the AC system, AC not running at idle can be indicative of low coolant. I've experienced this problem in my Impala. Stopped at a light, it starts blowing warm. You start moving again, and it blows cold. Fill up the coolant to the fill line, and it blows cold all the time.

I dunno if that something a lot of cars do, or newer cars, or what. But a quick google will show you that low coolant can cause some A/C symptoms. I assume it is engineered that way to allow the driver to know something is wrong. Granted, a low coolant light is likely much more effective (my older jeep does that), but suffice it to say, coolant level can have an affect on the A/C system in some vehicles.
No, a quick google search reveals that a lot of people think that "coolant" and "refrigerant" are the same thing.

The only reason the A/C would stop working from low coolant is what LTC8K6 said and as he correctly pointed out there would definitely be some sort of overheating warning shown in that case.

If the A/C is warm when stopped and cold when moving the problem is that the radiator fans aren't coming on which means no airflow over the condenser when the car is stopped. An A/C system should have an over-ride that turns on the radiator fans at low-speed whenever the A/C system is on (and a secondary switch that forces high-speed whenever the A/C line pressure exceeds a certain amount). However, if that over-ride is not functioning then the A/C is dependent on the normal thermostatic control of the fans. If the coolant is low, this can affect the thermoswitch and fail to trigger the fans, which would cause the warm-when-stopped-but-cold-when-moving issue you had.

Regardless, the OP needs to pressure test his A/C, fix the leak, and recharge the system. I say fix the leak because the A/C is a sealed system and if it's low on refrigerant that means there's a leak somewhere.

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:52 PM   #9
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No, a quick google search reveals that a lot of people think that "coolant" and "refrigerant" are the same thing.

The only reason the A/C would stop working from low coolant is what LTC8K6 said and as he correctly pointed out there would definitely be some sort of overheating warning shown in that case.

If the A/C is warm when stopped and cold when moving the problem is that the radiator fans aren't coming on which means no airflow over the condenser when the car is stopped. An A/C system should have an over-ride that turns on the radiator fans at low-speed whenever the A/C system is on (and a secondary switch that forces high-speed whenever the A/C line pressure exceeds a certain amount). However, if that over-ride is not functioning then the A/C is dependent on the normal thermostatic control of the fans. If the coolant is low, this can affect the thermoswitch and fail to trigger the fans, which would cause the warm-when-stopped-but-cold-when-moving issue you had.

Regardless, the OP needs to pressure test his A/C, fix the leak, and recharge the system. I say fix the leak because the A/C is a sealed system and if it's low on refrigerant that means there's a leak somewhere.

ZV
What LTC8K6 said is basically what I said.

And in my case, there was no light that indicated low coolant. It either wasn't low enough to trigger the light, or whatever, but it was in fact blowing warm at stop lights. Added coolant, problem solved. Prior to that, the ONLY symptom was warm air at idle.

Only point being that, while the system do not directly affect each other, there are some things that can attribute to the symptoms other than low refrigerant.

All in all, LTC8K6 said "normally." I was simply pointing out something that falls outside the norm, and something worth taking a look at prior to diving into the refrigerant system. If it's low on coolant, add some and see if the AC symptoms remain. In my case, added coolant resolved the issue. I don't think that suggesting a quick check of a simple system is a bad suggestion considering the solution is to acquire a $5-10 bottle of coolant and topping off the system.

And, as it turns out, the problem I suggested may be specific to my vehicle:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...5062200AANerj7

Just figured they might be in line with someone else's vehicle.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:07 PM   #10
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The warm when stopped cold when moving thing is also caused by low refrigerant. The fans could cause it as well, but in my experience when it's only slightly low this is a definite symptom.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:43 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mvbighead View Post
And, as it turns out, the problem I suggested may be specific to my vehicle:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...5062200AANerj7
That link is about the system blowing COLD air at idle and hot air when moving. That's the exact opposite of the issue you claimed and has absolutely nothing to do with the A/C system.

The heater is entirely separate from the A/C unit. The only thing they share is the vents.

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Old 08-16-2012, 03:21 PM   #12
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Just to get back to the OP's issue, what needs to be done is to check the operating pressures of the A/C system and determine whether it has lost refrigerant. If it has lost refrigerant, he'll need to find the leak, fix it, and recharge the system.

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Old 08-16-2012, 09:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Zenmervolt View Post
That link is about the system blowing COLD air at idle and hot air when moving. That's the exact opposite of the issue you claimed and has absolutely nothing to do with the A/C system.

The heater is entirely separate from the A/C unit. The only thing they share is the vents.

ZV
You'd be right on that article. I did read that one backwards.

Here is perhaps a better article:
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Your_02_im...old_or_hot_air

This article seems to indicate that the coolant level can affect both, which explains the previous article I linked, despite the fact that it was the opposite of my situation.

Look, I am not claiming anything. I am not making this shit up. It happened. My coolant level was low. I added coolant, and never had another AC issue on the vehicle (an 07 Impala). The only symptom I had was warm air blowing when stopped, despite having the AC at full cold.

If your engine cooling system is not working properly, the car may be designed to shut down the AC system to compensate or serve as an indicator to the driver. I had a problem, I googled, checked my coolant, added coolant, and never experienced a problem again. Cost a whopping $9 for a gallon of dextron antifreeze.

Why you need to reiterate that systems are not connected is beyond me. I have not once said that the systems are connected. Just simply that I had an AC issue that was unrelated to any problem with the AC, and was directly related to coolant level. The coolant level is extremely easy to check, whereas finding a leak in the AC system requires dyed fluid and perhaps UV light to identify the source of the leak. If someone can eye their coolant, and correct any problems with it, it should be a quick and cheap check to perform before getting into a more complicated fix.
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Old 08-16-2012, 10:00 PM   #14
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long, irrelevant rant
I reiterated because you are giving bad advice. You are linking to answers pages written by random people on the internet on sites that are notoriously unreliable.

The systems aren't connected and do not interact. The only way that any connection could happen (ECU killing the A/C when the car overheats) has already been mentioned. Your continued insistence on bringing up a ridiculously unlikely scenario adds nothing but noise to the discussion.

The first step for the OP is to check the system pressures in the A/C system to find out if he's low on refrigerant. That's how any mechanic would handle the situation.

Let the people who know about cars handle this.

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Old 08-17-2012, 05:47 AM   #15
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I reiterated because you are giving bad advice. You are linking to answers pages written by random people on the internet on sites that are notoriously unreliable.

The systems aren't connected and do not interact. The only way that any connection could happen (ECU killing the A/C when the car overheats) has already been mentioned. Your continued insistence on bringing up a ridiculously unlikely scenario adds nothing but noise to the discussion.

The first step for the OP is to check the system pressures in the A/C system to find out if he's low on refrigerant. That's how any mechanic would handle the situation.

Let the people who know about cars handle this.

ZV
I don't consider it bad advice when it actually resolved an AC situation. As such, I figure it worth a quick look.

Why you feel the need to be a complete dick about this is beyond me. We should all know that coolant is not refrigerant.

Kinda like suggesting ripping apart the dash versus pulling out a fuse to check for a problem. Checking coolant takes 60 seconds and not a single penny to do, only requires more coolant if the level is low.

You may call it bad advice. That's all well and good. But for me, and apparently someone with an Impala (02+), there is something within their engineering that causes AC symptoms that directly correlates to the coolant level. It's a simple thing to check. I made a simple suggestion. It may not have any relevance in any other car model, but at the same time, it's so easy to check, why not make the suggestion?

As far as people who know about cars bit... gee, I dunno that I said anything about the refrigerant being wrong. Just simply that the coolant level is a quick easy spot check before you start checking a sealed off system. I figured this was a forum where members of the community could contribute suggestions that have helped them in the past. That's what I was doing. You'd figure a mod would have a better sense of discretion in fighting on an issue, rather than coming off as a complete asshole just to validate himself and his car knowledge.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:29 AM   #16
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Well, if the coolant is low, you probably have a coolant leak, so it will likely require more than just adding coolant.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:49 AM   #17
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Not normal. My own '98 S70 is ice cold.

If the system gets cold when you're moving but not when you're sitting still then it could be the radiator fans not triggering. If it's just warm all the time it's probably a little bit leaky and you've lost some refrigerant.

ZV
My oh my, how did I miss this?

So you are giving me crap about checking the coolant, but then your first post includes something about a radiator fan not triggering? The systems are completely unrelated, right? How does one have anything to do with the other?

I'm sorry, but apparently I rubbed you the wrong way, and you obviously have me a bit miffed. Why you're so hard up to prove me wrong is a mystery, when you yourself made the very first suggestion that involved the (engine) coolant system. How is checking the radiator fan any different than checking the coolant level in relation to what systems are affected? We know there isn't a direct link. But the reality is, if coolant system is performing inadequately, it can adversely affect the AC system. And the coolant system is extremely easy to check.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:52 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by mvbighead View Post
My oh my, how did I miss this?

So you are giving me crap about checking the coolant, but then your first post includes something about a radiator fan not triggering? The systems are completely unrelated, right? How does one have anything to do with the other?

I'm sorry, but apparently I rubbed you the wrong way, and you obviously have me a bit miffed. Why you're so hard up to prove me wrong is a mystery, when you yourself made the very first suggestion that involved the (engine) coolant system. How is checking the radiator fan any different than checking the coolant level in relation to what systems are affected? We know there isn't a direct link. But the reality is, if coolant system is performing inadequately, it can adversely affect the AC system. And the coolant system is extremely easy to check.
The A/C system has a "radiator" also. It's mounted in line with the engine's radiator, so the same fan(s) pull air through both.
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:35 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by mvbighead View Post
I don't consider it bad advice when it actually resolved an AC situation. As such, I figure it worth a quick look.

Why you feel the need to be a complete dick about this is beyond me. We should all know that coolant is not refrigerant.

Kinda like suggesting ripping apart the dash versus pulling out a fuse to check for a problem. Checking coolant takes 60 seconds and not a single penny to do, only requires more coolant if the level is low.

You may call it bad advice. That's all well and good. But for me, and apparently someone with an Impala (02+), there is something within their engineering that causes AC symptoms that directly correlates to the coolant level. It's a simple thing to check. I made a simple suggestion. It may not have any relevance in any other car model, but at the same time, it's so easy to check, why not make the suggestion?

As far as people who know about cars bit... gee, I dunno that I said anything about the refrigerant being wrong. Just simply that the coolant level is a quick easy spot check before you start checking a sealed off system. I figured this was a forum where members of the community could contribute suggestions that have helped them in the past. That's what I was doing. You'd figure a mod would have a better sense of discretion in fighting on an issue, rather than coming off as a complete asshole just to validate himself and his car knowledge.

He's (legitimately) frustrated as we often get idiots in here recommending people do things that make NO sense (read inflate to sidewall and related posts). Most of these people will to their grave blindly insisting that they're right and everyone else is wrong.

In this instance I've gotta go with ZV; I find it very VERY hard to believe that coolant level is related. The only two possible ways I could see coolant being related is if the ECU is in some sort of overheated 'limp' mode which disables a/c, which would make your a/c being hot the least of your concerns... Or low coolant allowing engine to run 20% hotter, which makes coolant in the radiator hotter, which heat soaks the a/c condenser. That is a huge HUGE stretch and very unlikely.
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:35 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by mvbighead View Post
My oh my, how did I miss this?

So you are giving me crap about checking the coolant, but then your first post includes something about a radiator fan not triggering? The systems are completely unrelated, right? How does one have anything to do with the other?

I'm sorry, but apparently I rubbed you the wrong way, and you obviously have me a bit miffed. Why you're so hard up to prove me wrong is a mystery, when you yourself made the very first suggestion that involved the (engine) coolant system. How is checking the radiator fan any different than checking the coolant level in relation to what systems are affected? We know there isn't a direct link. But the reality is, if coolant system is performing inadequately, it can adversely affect the AC system. And the coolant system is extremely easy to check.

You're really embarrassing yourself here. Any 'car geek' knows that the radiator fan also cools the condenser.
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Old 08-17-2012, 08:14 AM   #21
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He's (legitimately) frustrated as we often get idiots in here recommending people do things that make NO sense (read inflate to sidewall and related posts). Most of these people will to their grave blindly insisting that they're right and everyone else is wrong.

In this instance I've gotta go with ZV; I find it very VERY hard to believe that coolant level is related. The only two possible ways I could see coolant being related is if the ECU is in some sort of overheated 'limp' mode which disables a/c, which would make your a/c being hot the least of your concerns... Or low coolant allowing engine to run 20% hotter, which makes coolant in the radiator hotter, which heat soaks the a/c condenser. That is a huge HUGE stretch and very unlikely.
My problem here is that I had an issue. I looked it up. And there was a 1 to 1 relationship between coolant level and AC performance while stopped/idle. I added coolant, the issue was gone.

Yes. The possibility of the engine overheating was far more important. The reality is, they did something in those cars, for whatever reason, to do that when the coolant was low. I pointed to an article that suggested exactly that. Of course, me pointing to that article then leads to the easy claim that it is an article on the Internet and therefor is irrelevant or false. The reality is, the article is not false, as I went through that EXACT scenario, to the T.

My problem is being called an idiot/numbskull for pointing out something that MAY fit the OP's scenario. I am not suggesting a $1000, $500, or even $5 repair. I am suggesting a simple check of a simple container in the engine compartment. A visual inspection that takes nothing more than seconds. In all likelihood, it has nothing to do with the problem. But, and here's the key thing, all it takes is seconds to perform a inspection of the fluid level on the reservoir. If it is adequate, no harm done, move on to buying the equipment necessary to check the AC system (the $10-20 kit with the gauge and refrigerant canister).
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Old 08-17-2012, 08:18 AM   #22
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My problem here is that I had an issue. I looked it up. And there was a 1 to 1 relationship between coolant level and AC performance while stopped/idle. I added coolant, the issue was gone.

Yes. The possibility of the engine overheating was far more important. The reality is, they did something in those cars, for whatever reason, to do that when the coolant was low. I pointed to an article that suggested exactly that. Of course, me pointing to that article then leads to the easy claim that it is an article on the Internet and therefor is irrelevant or false. The reality is, the article is not false, as I went through that EXACT scenario, to the T.

My problem is being called an idiot/numbskull for pointing out something that MAY fit the OP's scenario. I am not suggesting a $1000, $500, or even $5 repair. I am suggesting a simple check of a simple container in the engine compartment. A visual inspection that takes nothing more than seconds. In all likelihood, it has nothing to do with the problem. But, and here's the key thing, all it takes is seconds to perform a inspection of the fluid level on the reservoir. If it is adequate, no harm done, move on to buying the equipment necessary to check the AC system (the $10-20 kit with the gauge and refrigerant canister).

1:1 of coolant level and a/c temp is very VERY unlikely...

I've dealt with so many cars I can't even begin to count, and I have never heard of something like this.

To me, it's similar to saying 'check your air filter because if the engine isn't running right it can affect a/c performance in negligible ways'... While that can be technically true, and is good advice in itself, it's just sort of bizarre when specifically dealing with a/c.

I think ZV is a bit frustrated at a lot of the 'wrong' advice we see in here, and you got the brunt end of it.
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Old 08-17-2012, 08:21 AM   #23
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My problem here is that I had an issue. I looked it up. And there was a 1 to 1 relationship between coolant level and AC performance while stopped/idle. I added coolant, the issue was gone.

Yes. The possibility of the engine overheating was far more important. The reality is, they did something in those cars, for whatever reason, to do that when the coolant was low. I pointed to an article that suggested exactly that. Of course, me pointing to that article then leads to the easy claim that it is an article on the Internet and therefor is irrelevant or false. The reality is, the article is not false, as I went through that EXACT scenario, to the T.

My problem is being called an idiot/numbskull for pointing out something that MAY fit the OP's scenario. I am not suggesting a $1000, $500, or even $5 repair. I am suggesting a simple check of a simple container in the engine compartment. A visual inspection that takes nothing more than seconds. In all likelihood, it has nothing to do with the problem. But, and here's the key thing, all it takes is seconds to perform a inspection of the fluid level on the reservoir. If it is adequate, no harm done, move on to buying the equipment necessary to check the AC system (the $10-20 kit with the gauge and refrigerant canister).
I understand what you are saying, but it really doesn't seem to make any sense.

Low engine coolant would in theory make the engine run hotter, and in theory this would make the rad fans run more often, and further in theory, this should help the A/C system. The A/C condenser is typically in front of the radiator, not behind it, so the condenser gets fresh air.

In practice, I think you'd have to be quite a bit low on coolant to cause the engine to run much warmer than normal, since the system tries hard to control the temperature.
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Old 08-17-2012, 08:25 AM   #24
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IIRC, if the engine gets too warm, the PCM causes the Rad fans to go into high speed and all the time operation as well.

IIRC, if I unplug my coolant temp sensor, the PCM reacts by turning the rad fans on max for safety, since it has lost coolant temp info.
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Old 08-17-2012, 08:27 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpatiallyAware View Post
You're really embarrassing yourself here. Any 'car geek' knows that the radiator fan also cools the condenser.
You're likely right here, but again, I was making the assumption that it was possible that the coolant system was performing inadequately, and the computer was setting the car in 'limp' mode to indicate a problem, which is apparently what my car did due to the low coolant level. My case is obviously odd, but I am clearly not the only one to experience it, as evidenced by the articles I supplied.

In my case, it was 1 to 1. I never checked the refrigerant system, and never needed to.

At this point, I give up. I was simply making a suggestion about a simple visual inspection of the fluid level as there may be a similar as what I experienced. I could understand all the frustration if I were to suggest that the OP jack his/her car up and remove the trans oil pan to fix the problem. I didn't. I suggested a trivial check of a fluid level, that when performing sub-optimally, may trigger 'limp' mode to indicate a problem. In all likelihood, there will be no cause and effect. But it is something he could do without any tools, or gauges. If it's full, move on.

I'm done. I don't care to fight this point when I am up against a supposed expert. Just suffice it to say that I HAD a problem. I added antifreeze/water to my coolant system, and my problem was gone. I thought my experience may correlate with someone else's problem, and figured to make a casual suggestion to check the fluid level. I figured no harm done in checking to make sure the fluid level was adequate; I appear to be wrong.

EDIT:
Also, just to be clear, in my case, when stopped at a light, the air blew out full hot. When moving 25mph, it blew out full cold. It wasn't a difference of it getting warmer, then getting cooler. It was one or the other. The more I look at it, the more it differs from the OP's case. But I still figure all vehicles have some similarities and some differences, and it may somehow tie into the OP's problem. Clearly my Impala did something funny/different, as my Jeep would tell me that I had low coolant (loose radiator hose) on an LED. For whatever reason, I never got that message from the Impala.

Last edited by mvbighead; 08-17-2012 at 08:43 AM.
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