What Are Automotive A/C Seals & Why You Should Care
The average person driving their car to work in the morning probably isn’t thinking about the importance of their car’s air conditioning seals. However, quality automotive A/C seals are essential to saving you future headaches and money.
In this article, we’re going to lay out a brief guide to these little unsung heroes, why they’re important, the best quality materials for them and the difference between seals for your engine and the seals found in your A/C unit.
What are seals?
When an automotive air conditioning system is made, the metaphorical glue that keeps it compact and running smoothly are tiny lubricated rubber o-rings. These air-tight seals reduce leaks, pooling of fluid and prevent a wide range of other damages when parts loosen. Avoiding damages and leaks caused by faulty seals is essential for an A/C unit to work properly and increase its longevity. Using a high-quality o-ring from the start is vital because they play a role in almost every aspect of an automotive air conditioning system.
Why are seals necessary?
Air conditioning seals are essential because your car’s air conditioning system has multiple high-intensity pressure lines with valves trying to push air through. If there are any spaces for highly pressured air to come through, your air conditioning unit will not perform to its highest standard and will eventually break. With this in mind, air-tight seals on each valve only allowing pressurized air where needed will ensure an automotive air conditioning unit runs as it should. Air-tight seals also play a vital role in cooling the air that blows out and corrects pressure levels.
5 best materials for rubber seals
- Fluorocarbon (Viton) This material is the most desirable for withstanding high-temperature with compounds ranging from -13°F to +446°F.
- Nitrile (Buna-N) This economical elastomer is able to seal against petroleum-based oils, silicone greases and hydraulic fluids.
- Fluorosilicone While this compound is mainly used for aerospace applications, it’s becoming a very popular material for automotive use.
- Ethylene-Propylene This practical, widely accepted material is an absolute ace when it comes to withstanding wide temperature ranges with standard compounds ranging from -40° to +275°F and specially formulated compounds ranging from -67° to +302°F.
- Perfluoroelastomer (FFKM) This seal is exceptional for resisting degradation caused by aggressive fluids and chemicals in automotive lubricants, fuels and additives.
What’s the difference between A/C and engine seals?
While it might be easy to assume that all automotive seals are the same, this is far from the truth. The elements needed to withstand an automotive air conditioning unit are different from that of an engine. These elements include different temperatures, chemicals, and pressure levels, among other things. When purchasing seals for your automotive air conditioning unit, you must buy an A/C-specific seal.
Reliability and air-tight seals are key when looking for a quality air conditioning seal. Using a high-quality o-ring made out of one of the previously mentioned materials can help your air conditioning unit run smoothly for years to come.