Close this search box.

The Importance of Automotive HVAC Skills for Mechanics

Most people don’t think about the air conditioning unit in their car until it’s malfunctioning or broken. Air conditioning and ventilation isn’t as flashy as polished rims or as interesting as a historic vehicle—but on a sweltering day, air conditioning is both satisfying and essential. In fact, 99 percent of all new cars today are equipped with air conditioning. The same is true for heating in cars.

That’s why automotive technicians must have the knowledge and skills to repair these air conditioning, ventilation, and heating systems for motorists. If not, the place where Americans spend a great deal of time—in their cars—would be less comfortable, safe and enjoyable. Starting with the basics is the first step for motor vehicle air conditioning technicians (also called MVAC techs), so let’s explore common questions about automotive air conditioning.

How do air conditioning systems work in a car?

An automotive air conditioning system works to cool the air in the vehicle. To do this, the A/C unit changes refrigerant liquid into a gas. This process pulls humidity and heat from the air in the car and results in cooler, drier and more comfortable air.

There are five main parts to a vehicle’s automotive HVAC unit:

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Expansion tube
  • Receiver/dryer
  • Evaporator

Students at Apex are taught about air conditioning systems and their components in one of the six courses offered in our automotive program. Visit our website to more about the Automotive Service & Repair classes and curriculum.

What are common A/C problems in a car?

When something is wrong with a car’s air conditioning system, the driver knows right away. Typically, a malfunctioning A/C unit blows warm air, blows too little air, or won’t turn on. A bad air conditioner may be due to one or more of these issues:

  • Refrigerant leak
  • Broken condenser
  • Blocked condensertube
  • Bad fan
  • Bad compressor
  • Electrical problems

Sometimes, a car’s air conditioning may smell musty, stale, sweet or like chemicals. Here are common causes of a smelly A/C that students may be taught in MVAC training:

  • Musty or mildewy : Dirt and debris has likely built up in the air intake vent, trapping moisture
  • Sweet or syrupy : A leaky heater core is likely leaking engine coolant
  • Chemical : The evaporator may be leaking refrigerant
  • Stale : Dust has likely built up in the cabin filter, which can be replaced easily

Related: Women Mechanics in the Automotive Industry


Explore the Auto Repair Program at Apex

Does becoming an automotive mechanic sound like the path for you? Want to explore automotive HVAC certification? Not sure, but want to talk to an Apex Admissions rep? We’re here to answer all your questions, including how to enroll in hands-on auto repair training, if you qualify for financial aid, and when you can schedule a tour to see our classrooms and shops. To learn more, visit the Automotive Service & Repair program page or get in touch today.

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.