What Causes Air Conditioning Leaks in a Car?

March 10, 2024

Understanding Common Car Air Conditioning Problems

It’s easy for air conditioning problems with your vehicle to sneak up on you. Living in Northeast Ohio, we often ignore our air conditioning system for up to six months every year during the winter. It isn’t until that first hot day when we switch on the A/C and realize there is a problem. If your car’s air conditioning is blowing warm air, you might immediately think your refrigerant levels are low or you have a leak.

While refrigerant leaks are not the only causes of a faulty air conditioner, they can be caused by several common A/C problems or failures, including:

Natural Wear-and-Tear

Like most components, some parts may become worn out over time. A defective gasket, seal or “o” ring leaking hose, or other component may cause a refrigerant leak in the system. Additionally, some refrigerant does naturally escape over time, but it escapes in such tiny amounts it would take a very long time to cause the vehicle to blow warm air.

Road Salt & Brine

Unlike a home air conditioner or a refrigerator, a car’s air conditioning system is not encapsulated in one unit. The parts in your vehicle’s A/C system are built-in throughout the vehicle to make it work properly. This means some parts are exposed to road salt and brine used during the winter months which can ultimately lead to the corrosion of those parts.


If a rubber hose, seal or other component breaks down for any reason, it allows moisture to enter the system. The moisture mixes with the refrigerant and forms a Trifluoroacetic Acid which breaks down other components and can cause leaks. In these cases, auto AC repair is essential.

Damage from Road Debris or a Car Accident

Some condenser and under-car damage can be caused by stones, rocks, potholes or other road hazards. Furthermore, if the vehicle has suffered impact from an accident, some components may have been damaged. It is best to have the vehicle inspected after any accident—or if you have experienced any rough riding conditions or regularly drive on back country or gravel roads—to make sure no damage has been done to any vehicle system or part.

Unfortunately, there is no malfunction indicator lamp or “Check Engine” light for the air conditioning system, so it is best to have your A/C checked at least every other year and immediately if you suspect that you have an air conditioning leak in your car. Bring your vehicle to Rad Air for our air conditioning repair and maintenance services and keep it blowing cold air throughout the summer.

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