Maintaining your cool

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The ACX-10 monitors refrigerant pressure and voltage, and controls compressor clutch operation when system conditions are abnormal.

With many of us still wandering through winter wasteland, it may tax frozen brain cells to think about vehicle air conditioning systems. But A/C season is just around that last, icy bend, and soon it will be time to start dealing with A/C performance complaints. Many of those will be the result of refrigerant loss over the winter, despite your best efforts to have drivers occasionally run their systems to keep parts lubricated and to prevent seals from drying out.

Low refrigerant charge can do more than elicit complaints, however. It can cause excessive compressor clutch cycling and, if severe enough, can starve the compressor for lubricant and destroy it.

That’s why Index Sensors and Controls ( developed the ACX-10 Air Conditioning Life Extender. It monitors refrigerant pressure and voltage and, if needed, can slow clutch cycling by as much as 80 percent, the company says.

When the ACX-10 detects persistent low (or high) refrigerant pressure, it temporarily disengages the A/C clutch until the pressure returns to the normal, safe operating range.

The unit reportedly also detects big swings in voltage. Over-voltage can damage an A/C system by creating excessive current and heat in the clutch coil, shortening clutch life. Under-voltage can cause the clutch to slip and burn out. When the ACX-10 detects either of these conditions, it temporarily disengages the A/C clutch until the voltage returns to normal.

Yet another claimed area of protection is the starter motor and batteries. If the A/C is on during a vehicle’s ignition cycle, the starter motor has to work extra hard, cranking the compressor as well as the engine, so the ACX-10 delays clutch engagement for 15 seconds after ignition.

The ACX-10 is available for retrofit through dealers and parts distributors. Installation, according to Index, takes fewer than 30 minutes.