What’s fallacious with the air con?
March 14, 2022 | by Noah Franklin
Q: My 2017 Honda Pilot with the Touring package has 56,000 miles and is a wonderful vehicle except for the air conditioning. At various times while on long trips, the A/C blows warm air. Changing temperatures or switching on and off does not change the temp. The only hope is to turn the engine off for about 90 minutes before driving again. We can’t do that until reaching our destination.
The authorized Honda dealer’s repair shop cannot find a problem and assures us the A/C system is in good working order. They suggest bringing the vehicle in when the problem occurs. That isn’t possible because it occurs on long trips. What can I do to solve this problem? — JC, West Hartford, Connecticut
A: It gives me a warm feeling getting an air conditioning question in the winter. The A/C removes humidity as it cools. That water vapor then becomes liquid water that drains out of the HVAC housing by way of a rubber tube.
When the tube gets clogged, the water collects on the evaporator coils and turns to ice. The ice then blocks airflow. Turning off the A/C (need not turn off the engine) allows the ice to melt. Solution: Have the tube cleaned.
Q: My daughter drives a 2003 Toyota Camry. The car has no tire pressure monitoring system so I’ve just put pressure monitoring valve caps on her tires. Seems like a great way to visually keep an eye on the pressure while she is away at school. Curious if you’ve had any experience with these. Is there a risk of the caps loosening, which would slowly deflate the tire? — RS, Lindenhurst, Illinois
A: I have used them, but not for a while. They were kind of accurate but have probably been improved since then. Although not as accurate as the TPMS, they will at least alert you to a drop in pressure. Don’t worry about them getting loose.
Q: I’ve read in your column and elsewhere about the value of catalytic converters. In 2013, I purchased a new Ford Taurus SHO. I had it super-tuned, which included replacing the exhaust system with less restrictive converters. I have the original factory converters. My question: How do I go about legally selling them? Thanks ahead for your consideration of my question and response. — AH, Coal City, Illinois
A: Auto parts stores usually collect a core charge, which they refund when the old parts are returned. If you have ever bought a battery, you will be familiar with this process. But that core charge refund window has probably closed by now. If the cats are in good condition, an auto recycling/salvage yard may be happy to take them, but don’t expect to get much money.
Q: My very handy son-in-law firmly believes in keeping at least one car with no computerized components so that he can mechanically fix anything that goes wrong — kind of like the people in Cuba who are still repairing classic 20th century American cars with all sorts of fabricated parts.
I always wondered about the utility of this idea. But now — in this era of global trade with chip shortages and supply chain issues — I wonder if he’s onto something. What’s your take on this? — BM, Chicago
A: I have heard a similar argument for keeping a landline phone. I must admit it is not a bad idea.
Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified master automobile technician in 1976. Send questions along with name and town to email@example.com.