Auto Air Conditioning / Heating

A broken air conditioning or heating unit in your car can have Milwaukee residents seeing red or left out in the cold. Richlen Garage specializes in prompt, fair diagnostics and repairs to everything from basic heating and air conditioning repairs to more in-depth services.

 The heater in your car is basically a smaller version of your cooling systems radiator.  And often we take for granted the heat that keeps us warm in winter months and the cool air that refreshes us during summer’s sweltering days.  Hot engine coolant is circulated through a small radiator, or heater core. A fan is positioned in front of the heater core to blow cold outside air over the fans. As the air gravels over the heater core, it heats up and becomes the hot air that blows out of your heater vents.

Like your engine’s cooling system radiator, the heater core can suffer some of the same issues. If the heater core becomes clogged with rust or sludge, you will no longer have heat- a program during Milwaukee’s frigid months. Also, leaks can cause a cabin full of white steam and wreak havoc on your windows. Tip: If you smell the sweet aroma of coolant when your heater is on, chances are you have a small leak in the heater core. Often times the heater core is buried under the dashboard and replacing it can be a major job.

 The air conditioning system in your car is comprised of a compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. If you have ever used a can of compressed air to clean computer components, you may note that the can gets very cold in a short amount of time. This is due to the rapid expansion of the compressed gas. The same thing happens in your car’s air conditioning system. Refrigerant (aka Freon) is compressed in the compressor and turns into a hot gas. In the condenser this hot gas is cooled to a liquid state and travels to the expansion valve. As the Freon goes through the expansion valve it returns to a low-pressure gas and rapidly cools in the evaporator. A fan blows over the evaporator and cools the air that eventually blows out of your vents, cooling you and the vehicle.

Common Problems:

  • From time to time the A/C system needs to be recharged to bring it back up to maximum efficiency. Sometimes a leak may cause loss of refrigerant and will need to be fixed before refilling. It's difficult to tell if a leak is present without specific test equipment so leave it up to a professional.
  • In recent years, the EPA has phased out the use of R-12 Freon in all refrigeration systems and R-134 has become the new standard. If you have an older system with R-12 you may need to retrofit your system to handle the new R-134 refrigerant. Sometimes seals, hoses and even the compressor need to be changed. The problem arises when the older seals and hoses are not compatible with the new oils found in the R-134.
  • Corrosion will cause the heater core (secondary radiator) to leak. This will manifest itself by leaving steam into the passenger compartment and fogging your windows. You will know there is a leak by the sweet smell coming from your vents. Unfortunately changing the heater core is usually not the easier job in the world as engineers tend to squeeze them into some pretty tight spaces under the dash.


Have a difficult to solve auto problem? Looking for the best price for your most challenging car issues in West Allis and Milwaukee? Call and talk to the domestic and Asian automobile experts at Richlen Garage West Allis today.


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