From time to time on my blog, I will do reviews of websites I've been asked to look at, sort of like a survey where I share the results with people. I receive compensation for doing these reviews, but they don't tell me what I have to say, or even that I have to say nice things. All the opinions contained herein are entirely my own.
I talked a little bit last month about my car and its air conditioning problems. Not having an air conditioner can seem like a minor thing, and it sort of is, but it can be pretty bad when the humidity gets high. When M and I went out this week on a humid and rainy day, all of us being in the car fogged up the windshield really badly, and without the dehumidifying properties of the air conditioning, the defrost didn't do squat. Rather than persist in wiping vainly at the windshield with paper towels, I eventually turned the heat on full blast (the heat works when it is not too cold out), and we baked ourselves dry. It was a miserable and rather dangerous experience.
With that in mind, I opened up Repairpal.com today, the auto repair website I mentioned awhile back. I'm miserably busy with the Census job and everything else right now, but something needs to be done. We have a little money saved up now, though most of it has to go to keeping us alive through the lean summer months, so I figured it's time to go get those auto shop reviews. While I was there, I decided to take advantage of the articles they have on different problems cars can have, trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with my air conditioning. I don't have a lot of savvy with cars, I admit that right off. Last time my check-engine light went off, M and I sat in the movie theatre parking lot for half an hour, petrified about whether the car was safe to drive or if we should tow it somewhere. (It turned out to be a loose gas cap, an idiosyncrasy I'm not terribly fond of in the Civic.)
From the sound of it, it might be the evaporator that I'm having trouble with, rather than the compressor or the condenser. We're not leaking any fluid that anyone's been able to tell, and the article about air conditioning evaporators suggests that layman-level diagnostics include a failure of dehumidification and a funky smell when you use the heat or AC. The strangest thing about the climate control problems we've been having has definitely been the weird smell that always presages the AC pooping out, but I didn't know it meant anything! If it's just the evaporator that's the problem, Repairpal suggests that it should be between 450 and 750 dollars to fix. That's a lot better than the 1600 dollar original quote, assuming that's all that's wrong with it. Just for the heck of it, I ran a couple of searches for Chicago auto repair and Asheville auto repair, being as how we're often near those metropolitan areas, and it's nice to know whether we're getting a good deal, living where we do. Turns out Cincinnati is the cheapest, but not by much. I'll take it anyway!
Monday is generally not a great day for me to go out and work anyway, so I think I'll probably call up some shops and get some estimates. Now that my internet research has given me the grounding I need, I feel like I'm not just going to be groping in the dark when I talk to mechanics, and that's always reassuring.