3 HVAC enhancements for your truck

When it comes to driver comfort, two key selling points for any truck are space and visibility. But big interiors and lots of window glass add to the demands placed on another critical driver-comfort item: the HVAC system.

Truck manufacturers work closely with climate-control system engineers to make sure the components, ducts, vents, and controls are well suited to the vehicle’s interior and expected use. However, there's more to consider given today’s sophisticated HVAC systems.

"There are features that can improve the accuracy of temperature control and prevent premature failures of critical components," says Gary Hansen, vice-president of engineering at Red Dot Corp. in Seattle. Red Dot designs and builds original and aftermarket climate-control systems for commercial trucks and vehicles in other demanding environments. 

He offers three HVAC system enhancements not to overlook.

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3 Steps to Better Supplier Training

When I do A/C training sessions, I try to present in a way that I would have wanted when I was a technician. I remember what it was like to come off the shop floor and hear a manufacturer’s rep drone on about his product line rather than giving me the training to help me do my job better.

I vowed not to be that guy. 

I’m a big believer in training that’s hands-on and highly focused, and as a result I lead a lot of on-site training for heavy-duty mechanics and maintenance managers. If you have a customer who would benefit from on-site HVAC training, here are three things you can do in advance to make those sessions more effective.

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Red Dot: Building HVAC for Heavy-Duty Operating Environments

Air conditioning is air conditioning. You’ve heard that before, and it’s basically true—whether you work on Corollas or Caterpillars, the same principles for removing heat from a vehicle cabin apply. 

You can even say that a heavy-duty mobile A/C system is nothing more than an automotive system with bigger components.

Just be ready for Red Dot to answer back.

“They’re both mechanical vapor compression air conditioners, but that’s where the comparison ends,” says Gary Hansen, vice president and chief engineer at Red Dot Corporation, which manufactures HVAC units, components, and parts for heavy-duty vehicles and equipment cabs.

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How to Inspect Coolant Hose

Coolant hoses degrade from the inside out, the result of a reaction between the coolant and different metals in the system (steel clamps, copper heater core, cast-iron head, etc.). The result is a weakened hose and foreign material circulating through the heater core.

For a simple inspection, turn the system off and squeeze the hose near the ends with your thumb and fingers. It should feel firm. If it's spongy, see a qualified A/C technician about a replacement.

How to Choose the Right Refrigerant Oil

One of the great misconceptions about synthetic refrigerant oils is that they’re all more or less the same. In fact, there are big differences among them in solubility, viscosity, and additives. 

Oil isn’t a one-size-fits-all commodity. Treat it like a critical component in the system (because it is). Follow these best practices to make sure you’re stocking and using the right oil for the job.

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Are Your Techs Section-609 Certified?

In the United States, any technician who opens up mobile A/C systems must be certified in refrigerant recovery and recycling procedures according to Section 609 of the Clean Air Act. The EPA has nine regional offices to enforce the law and the penalties are stiff: up to $32,500 per violation, per violating individual, per day.

Section 609 certification is a straightforward, one-time process—it takes just one class to cover proper equipment use and service procedures, followed by a 25-question, multiple-choice test. Once you're certified, there’s no renewal needed.

Winter is a great time for training, and Red Dot can help your technicians become 609-certified. If you want to expand the work your technicians can do, or you have customers whose technicians need training, talk to your Red Dot Account Manager about how Section 609 certification.

Don't Overload the A/C System with Oil

Too much refrigerant oil can coat the refrigerant, create a thermal barrier, and degrade system performance, especially when the oil is cold and highly viscous. It can also slug the compressor. When you replace a major HVAC component, use an oil reclaimer to measure the amount of oil you get out of it. You'll know precisely how much to put back in based on what you pull out.