Interior fogs up in the rain

I drive a 1996 Buick Skylark GS Coupe with 243,000+ miles (first car) and when I drive it in the rain, the interior fogs up and the defroster barely works at all. It only clears a portion of the front and rear windshields, and I have to constantly clear a spot on the windshield in front of me so that I can actually see where I am going. I have only driven in the rain with this car 4 times, to figure out if the first time it happened was due to the atmospheric conditions or if it was caused by something else malfunctioning with the car.

I went to the local Buick dealership to get the A/C system repaired, which I originally thought would solve the fogging issue, and would be less than $150 because that is what I was told. Turned out that the total repairs ($1300+ to replace the A/C Compressor (825) Coolant Fan Motor (295) Upper Radiator Hose (125) plus labor and tax) would be almost double what I paid for the car ($750), and almost triple what it is most likely worth(I estimate no more than $500). This really sucks because I don’t have the money to get the A/C fixed, and I’m in Texas. And It’s almost summer.

I called back earlier this morning to ask if the repairs that were mentioned yesterday would also apply to get the fogging issue fixed. I was told that it wasn’t but that it would also cost $100 just for someone to look at it.

Im going to start calling some local places here in a minute to get some quotes on what it would be to get it looked at, much less get the problem fixed. The problem with all this is that I’m trying to get a summer/fall job, but the managers I have spoken with told me that they would not consider hiring me if my transportation is not reliable or safe enough to drive in minor weather conditions. We don’t have a bus system here, and everyone I have followed up with has said that the taxi service was not an option as well as the “TAPS” transportation system (not reliable whatsoever).

I need to find out what is causing this fogging issue, and I need some help. Care to point me in the right direction?

There is absolutely no reason to take a 13 year old car to a dealership!

Take the car to an independent auto A/C shop (there must be hundreds of them in a torrid region like Texas) and get an estimate. While it may not be cheap, I can virtually guarantee that the cost will be FAR lower than what you were quoted, and the quality of the work will be considerably better.

Are you running the defroster in recirculate mode? This can cause the problem you describe. The system should be set to use outside air

The interior is fogging because the AC system doesn’t work. In addition to cooling the air, the AC also DRIES the air, which is why the AC compressor automatically comes on (or should) in most newer cars when you turn on the defroster.

Way back in the old days, when most cars didn’t have AC, fogging of the windows was a constant problem on rainy days.

Personally, I wouldn’t spend the money to fix the AC on a car with 243K miles on it. The cost of the repair will buy you another car. Try to find one with working AC.

VDCdriver has a valid point. Take the car somewhere besides a Buick dealer. An automotive AC specialist is your best bet for AC repair. They are the experts, and perhaps can fix it for less.

Yes, it is set to bring in air from the outside.

If you are correct and the A/C system needs to be replaced, then I am probably in trouble. I just got off of the phone with someone at Midas, and he is going to give me an estimate for the parts that the worker at the dealer told me needed to be replaced to get the A/C up and running.

Gotta agree with the previous posts - the AC is crucial to suck the humidity out of the air for the ultimate defroster performance. However all may not be lost on the AC. Are you certain you get good airflow out of the defroster? It is possible that the the vent doors are not opening as they should (restricting the air flow). Also understand that the moisture has to go somewhere - crack a window or two open and if you need to put some $20 window air deflectors on the car so it doesn’t rain in while the windows are cracked.

The airflow out of the vents was one of the first things that I checked, and there is plenty of air coming out. I just got off of the phone with an A/C shop in Sherman, and the estimate they gave me was $1,226.24, labor and tax included.

If you need exhaust work, then Midas might be a good idea.

But, I want to caution you–DO NOT go to Midas for mechanical work such as this unless you want to be overcharged for substandard work. You need an independently-operated automotive A/C shop. Ask people in your neighborhood for a recommendation.

Also–do not ask for estimates based on what the dealership said they would replace. Ask each shop to give you an estimate for replacing what THEY think needs to be replaced/repaired.

You’ve gotten great advice here.

I only want to add that a mnimum $100 diagnostics fee is normal and fair in today’s world. Realiza that the diagnostic is tying up the bay and the tech, and that’ll easily tie up $100 worth of overhead and labor. It’s a fair fee.

Fixing the AC sounds like it is out your range until you have a job and can save some money. Rain-X markets an anti-fog product to put on the inside of your windows. It will help reduce the fogging problem a bunch. In a rain storm you will need to turn on the blower fan on high and keep some windows open a crack to allow some air to circulate. You are going to have to find ways to cope with this until you either get another car or have the AC fixed.

Cleaning your window will help, I have also heard of rainex on the inside of the window helps but never tried it myself. Maybe you can double check somehow that the actual vent is not stuck in recirculate mode, opening a rear window a bit can also help. I drove many a car many a year without ac and never had a fogging problem, I think you can beat it if indeed your ac is broke and you do not want to fix it. Just as a double check do you experience any coolant loss or sweet smell? Maybe even water on the floor, another possibility is a clogged drain line for the ac and there is moisture accumulating with nowhere else to go.

One more possibility, if the drain from the A/C is blocked it can also cause this problem. Fix should be less than $20.00