Fix It Yourself: Truck Air Conditioning

by Peter Grant

When your air conditioner in your pickup truck is broken, there could be one of several issues at play. Troubleshooting can be especially frustrating in the summer when you need your air conditioning the most and you are not sure where to begin looking. By following these steps, you can fix the key components that fail and bring life back to your truck's air conditioning. The specific procedures will vary between makes and models of trucks, however they will principally remain the same.

Accessory Belt

Step 1

Inspect the underside of your truck's engine and locate the rubber drive and accessory belts. These will be black and approximately 1 inch in width. If these are broken or in poor condition, it can affect the operation of the air conditioning system.

Step 2

Check the belts to ensure that they are not snapped. If a belt is snapped or severely cracked, you will need to remove it by releasing pressure from the belt's mounting point to give it some slack, and then pulling the belt out of place. This is typically done by inserting an Allen key into the center of the belt's pulley and turning counterclockwise.

Step 3

Slide the new belt onto the air conditioning condenser's pulley system while holding the Allen key that's in the pulley. Turn the Allen key in the opposite direction to tighten the pulley and remove any slack in the new belt.

Recharge the Air Conditioning System

Step 1

Locate the air conditioning system in your truck's engine bay. The condenser will be connected to metal tubing that routes the air into the truck's interior. Follow the tubing until you locate the refrigerant fill nipples.

Step 2

Connect the refrigerant to the high and low pressure fill nipples and follow the recharging procedure set forth in the truck's owner's manual. The specific procedure to recharge your air conditioning system will vary between makes and models of trucks, as well as the type of refrigerant used in the truck's air conditioning system (see Resources).

Step 3

Allow the air conditioning system to run at its lowest temperature and highest fan setting for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. This will circulate the new refrigerant through the system and allow the condenser to generate cold air again.

Condenser Replacement

Step 1

Locate the air conditioning condenser's mounting points and see what it is connected to, if anything else, in your truck's engine. Replacing the condenser may be necessary if replacing the accessory belt or recharging the system did not resolve your problems.

Step 2

Turn off your truck's engine and remove the air conditioning condenser using sockets that fit the specific bolts used.

Step 3

Disconnect the air conditioning lines and connect them to the replacement condenser. This metal tubing can be tightened and released using open wrenches.

Step 4

Mount the new condenser into the same mounting points.

Step 5

Recharge your air conditioning system to introduce refrigerant into the new condenser to complete the replacement.

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