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eatmunky's avatar

What's wrong with my car? Overheating and no A/C?

Asked by eatmunky (358points) October 1st, 2008

A few months back my air conditioning broke, which I was okay with. We get really hot summers, but I couldn’t afford to pay for repairs, so I just dealt with it with the windows down. But then my car started overheating while driving home from work. The red thermostat light came on and started blinking. I took it in and it was fixed, or so I thought. The AC was working again, for a few weeks. Then it shut off again, and only blows hot air. Now the over heating thing is happening again! Any ideas what might be causing this? It’s a 2001 VW Beetle, automatic. (It was a hand-me down, I didn’t pick it out, and yes, it still has a vase in it.)

And an added note, the AC worked sometimes for short periods of time. It seemed to kinda be on and off, but once it went off for a while, it pretty much stayed off. A friend asked me if it seemed to not work on hot days, and work on cooler ones, and I don’t know if that info helps, but either way I think that might be the case, I’m not sure. It could have been coincidence too…

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11 Answers

bodyhead's avatar

Typically your air conditioning and your cooling systems are separate. It sounds to me like you have two different problems. I’ve never seen air conditioning go out that caused a cooling system problem. I have seen heat go out because of a heater core (cooling system) problem but never air conditioning.

I’m assuming you’ve checked your coolant levels to make sure they are up to the rim in the radiator?

Any time there’s a cooling problem in any of my cars that isn’t an obvious outpouring of water, I replace the thermostat because it’s cheap and easy to replace. Sometimes they get stuck open or closed and the engine overheats because the cheap little part has gone bad.

It sounds like you are leaking both coolant and freon. That would be my first guess. That’s why the recharge on your air conditioning didn’t last that long. They should have found the freon leak and fixed it. On the cooling system, there should only be a couple of questions. Are you loosing coolant? If so, where is it going? If not, what part in the (engine) cooling system has gone bad?

eatmunky's avatar

Well it sounds like whatever the issue is it’s out of my capabilities. I’ve checked the coolant and when I took it in before they said the freon was fine. I dunno, maybe its the thermostat. Well thanks for your help but it sounds like the problem is best handled by someone who knows what they’re doing. (not me). haha

I was trying to avoid another repair bill, but that’s life I guess.

FiRE_MaN's avatar

how much is it over heating? do you have to turn the car off and coast to cool it? haha i hope not. also does your ac make any strange noises?

bodyhead's avatar

Are you seeing any puddles? I know those new VW bugs have real small engine compartments but when I’m trying to find leaks, I just look for the clean spot. There’ll be dirt everywhere except where it’s leaking typically. Though in your car it might be leaking in a spot you cannot see without removing a plastic cover around the radiator.

Make sure you fix that overheating right away. It’s far more expensive to fix a head gasket (which is usually the first thing to blow if your car overheats), then it is to fix an overheating problem. If you need to fix a head gasket, sometimes it’s cheaper to get a new car.

Just another tip too, when I worked at the garage, if we did have a car that was overheating… we would just spray the hose on the front of the car where the radiator is to cool it quicker.

eatmunky's avatar

o wow okay… Yea I’m definitely not looking to pay some huge repair bill. I didnt drive it today because I figured it was probably something serious. I havent heard any strange noises, and I haven’t noticed any puddles…

I’ll take it in first thing tomorrow and cross my fingers. Thanks again.

bodyhead's avatar

Sometimes if there is just a tiny hole in your cooling system, the coolant will evaporate off of the engine pieces and never leave a puddle under your car. There’s several different ways you can loose coolant. Good luck.

Lovelocke's avatar

Heater Core. Happened in my Thunderbird. It’s a tiny little radiator type thing, typically costs more because of how hard it is to reach. To get that fixed for me (years back) was just shy of $2,000.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Well, this could happen if the A/C condenser coils, which sit in front of the radiator, are clogged and not allowing air to flow through. I’ve always considered this to be a bad design, because they heat up the air before it gets to the radiator, putting an additional strain on the engine’s cooling system – not to mention you get super hot air under the hood. I measured the underhood temperatures in my RSX at 140°F once.

I’m not saying this is your problem, but it’s the only thing that comes to mind that would cause both failures.

eatmunky's avatar

well for all those curious… it turned out to be the fan. It seems the fan froze up, not like from cold temperature but just stopped turning for whatever reason. The power that was trying to run the fan blew out some fuses. So no fan= overheating and blown fuses= no ac. At least, this is how it was explained to me. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but it ended up being about $450 in repairs, so I’m okay with that. Much better than 2 grand.

bodyhead's avatar

Yea that does make sense. I never think about it because in my car the fan is so loud that you would ‘really’ notice it not running.

Kayytee93's avatar

Heyy my boyfriend is having the same problem. do you remember what they did to fix it? because we really dont have the money to take it in to get the full diagnosis plus have it fixed, there are a lot of things wrong with his car but he fixed most of them but might not have got them done right. =/ can you please help us?

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