2009 Toyota Camry weak air conditioning

Tiny
FLEETWIN
  • MEMBER
  • 2009 TOYOTA CAMRY
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • MANUAL
  • 20,000 MILES
I have owned this car since new, and have not been satisfied with the air conditioning. The air conditioning certainly does work, and its performance has been the same since new. I just feel it is not very powerful.
I have returned it to the dealer twice, they checked the AC fluid/freon, said it was full, then checked the air temp coming out of the AC outlets, it was about 50 degreesF on an 80degree day. So, the dealer says the AC is operating as designed, case closed. The dealer also said that the AC should be run all the time in the recirc mode, which doesn't seem correct to me. Admittedly, I know little/nothing about AC theory. I always though the recirc mode was used to quickly cool a hot car, then the system should be switched back to regular mode to circulate some fresh air.
Nonetheless, even in the recirc mode, the system doesn't seem very powerful. I would really be upset if I lived in the hot southern climate. Maybe I am just making an unfair comparison to older cars with powerful systems (70sGM V-8 models).
Do you know if my complaint is common among Camry owners? Like I said, if my system is the norm, people in HOT climates must really be dis-satisfied.
Are there any other tests that can be performed on this system? In other words, yes I saw the 50degree reading on the thermometer stuck in the AC outlet vent. But, how about a temperature test being taken from the back seat?
And finally, do you agree with the dealer's recommendation that the AC be run in the recirc mode all the time?
thanks for your time and advice. Don
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Friday, June 4th, 2010 AT 2:30 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi fleetwin. Welcome to the forum. The easiest thing to do is find another similar car and see how it compares. According to two Chrysler trainers from many years ago, AC systems are only intended to lower air temperature 20 degrees. The real comfort comes from the removal of the humidity.

Some systems will have a duct temperature of as low as 40 degres which is actually a bad thing. The humidity condenses and collects on the cold evaporator in the heater box. That moisture runs into a drain pan and drips onto the ground. There are mechanical or electronic controls to slow the flow of refrigerant to prevent the evaporator from getting colder than around 40 degrees because that moisture would freeze into a block of ice and block air flow. The symptom would be real good cooling for a few minutes, then no more cold air from the ducts.

One thing you can check for is excessive frost on one of the hoses under the hood near the firewall. A liquid must absorb a lot of heat to turn into a vapor. It is supposed to evaporate in the, ... Uhm, ... Well, ... Evaporator, hence the name of the part. The point of evaporating is where it gets real cold, and you want that to be inside the car. Two things can cause that to occur in the wrong place. First, if there is not enough charge in the system, the liquid will vaporize in the hose leading to the firewall. Where that occurs you will see water condensation on the hose, or more likely, frost. Some water on the hose is normal because the refrigerant will be much colder that outside air, but a lot of frost is not normal.

If the system is over-charged, the evaporator will be full of liquid refrigerant. It will be cold but the real cooling will take place in the hose going from the firewall to the compressor. Again, the point where the liquid turns to a vapor will be evident by the frost on the hose.

The second cause of cooling in the wrong place is a restriction in the refrigerant's path. There is a designed-in restriction that adjusts to control how much cold liquid enters the evaporator, (to prevent over-cooling and freeze up), but unintended restrictions cause a point of pressure drop which promotes vaporization and cooling. You don't want that cooling to take place under the hood. There will usally be frost buildup on the location of a restriction. A small canister called the receiver / drier connected to one of the hoses has a filter and moisture absorber that can become blocked and is a common place to look for blockage.

The evaporator must be held at a temperature above freezing for water, and 40 degrees is typical. Since you are mixing it with much hotter air, it is impossible for the air coming from the ducts to be that cold. The less the volume of air flow, the easier is will be for the temperature to be lowered closer to 40 degrees. Measure the duct temperature with the fan on high speed, then run it on the lowest speed for a few minute and measure the temperature again. At the higher speed, the larger air volume will result in a higher duct temperature but there should not be a significant difference. The closer the two readings are to each other, the more cooling capacity the system has and that indicates it is working properly. If the temperature is a lot higher on the faster fan speed, that indicates the system doesn't have much capacity to remove heat from the air. If no restriction is obvious, look at the temperature-sensing device on the evaporator. It used to be a copper bulb on the end of a long copper tube. It was filled with a gas that expanded in response to increased temperature and would push on the valve that controlled how much refrigerant entered the evaporator. Newer systems often use an electronic sensor, then a computer turns the compressor on and off to control the flow rate of the refrigerant. If that sensor is not in solid contact with the evaporator, or is mispositioned from its intended location, it will not sense temperature correctly. Usually it will not get cold enough so the system mistakenly over-cools and freezes up.

There have been some problems with the valves that control the flow of refrigerant but they usually intermittently cause no cooling or over-cooling when they stick. The valve itself does not get out of adjustment. It just responds to the command from the sensing device.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, June 4th, 2010 AT 5:41 PM
Tiny
FLEETWIN
  • MEMBER
Thank you for your reply.I will look for heavily frosted a/c lines under the hood.I will also take a ride in another Camry on a hot day.
What do you think of the dealer's recommendation to run the a/c in the recirc mode all the time?
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Saturday, June 5th, 2010 AT 7:59 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You were correct in your first post. "Recirculate" is meant to quickly cool the interior by blowing previously-cooled air over the evaporator. This will remove humidity rapidly and is the most effective setting when using higher fan speeds. Once the car is cool, the other settings introduce fresh outside air and expel stale air. There is more work to do so slower fan speeds will allow the system to be more effective. You want the air to move slowly so it will stay in contact with the cold evaporator as long as possible. Also, there is a limit to how much heat can be removed in a given amount of time. At higher fan speeds, more air with more BTUs crosses the fins of the evaporator. When the number of BTUs exceeds the capacity, more are not removed so the air temperature remains higher.

Caradiodoc
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Sunday, June 6th, 2010 AT 4:49 PM
Tiny
WAISUDDIN
  • MEMBER
Dear Caradiodoc,

I am contacting you from Afghanistan where we haven't got any Toyota Dealer/Service center, and I have got a Toyota Camry 2010, actually its AC was working normal. But a month ago I faced a problem with it. When the car is slow the AC system is not cooling down but when I accelerate the car and the car gets faster it gets cold. I checked with AC repair shop they said the AC system doesn't work I have to replace the system.

I will be much thankful if you kindly please give me some advise.

Thanks,
Waisuddin Rahimi
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Sunday, May 10th, 2015 AT 1:19 AM

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