Subaru AC

I bought my car (2003 Subaru Outback) used, in the winter about three years ago. In the description of the car it stated there was AC but I didnt find out until the summer that the AC didnt actually work. I ran into to a lawyer who tried to get me to join a class action suit against dealerships lying about the condition of used cars. He said my car had probably been in an accident and that was why my AC did’t work. I have taken my car in many times for maintenance and no one has ever mentioned damage like that but they have never mentioned the AC either. I live in Colorado so I dont need AC most of the year but in the summer it gets really hot. I dont want to spend a lot of money on this either. Is a broken AC something I should worry about or can it be easily fixed?

There are many possible causes of “a broken AC”, and from afar nobody can tell you exactly what the cause might be, nor can they tell you the cost of the cure. You need to take the car to a specialist automotive A/C shop for diagnosis.

The OP’s question is sort of the automotive equivalent of calling your MD on the phone and saying, “I feel weak. What exactly is wrong with me, and how much will the treatment cost?” Several office visits and many diagnostic tests later, he/she may be able to answer your questions.

Since the A/C has been inoperative for several years, you need to be prepared for a large bill, possibly more than you are willing to spend on a 7 year old car. Repairs that are deferred are not usually cheap.

Can’t say I buy the lawyer’s view about an accident causing the problem. Used cars are a “buyer beware” item, and a pre-purchase inspection could catch the issue before you bought the car. While I agree that dealers are not necessarily diligent in their inspections before they put a car out on their lot, there are also some buyer responsibilities/due diligence that also enter here.

Get a real diagnosis from a specialty shop and proceed from there. It could be something simple like O-rings and it could be much more expensive. Pay to find out and then go from there.

The dealer probably saw that the vehicle was equipped with an AC but never checked it out because an AC will not run in wintertime temperatures. Since you did not or could not check it out either I don’t see a judge siding with you in a court case. 80 degree weather in Colorado winters is hard to come by.

There are many possible reasons for non-functioning AC. Some of them are simple and reasonably inexpensive to repair, others are complex and expensive.

I don’t buy the “accident damage” explanation. While it’s possible, it’s not the first, or even second or third, thing I would think of.

A small refrigerant leak will, over time, render the AC inoperable because there is a built-in safety system that prevents the AC compressor from operating if the refrigerant level is too low.

In my opinion AC is not just a comfort feature, it is a safety issue, since AC helps with defogging the windshield. If this were my car I’d get it fixed, regardless of the cost. Non-functional AC in a modern car is unacceptable, at least not to me.

Leave it to a lawyer.
You bought a 4 or 5 year old used car, failed to inspect it or have it inspected, and every time a problem develops with a used car the assumption is made that the dealer is automatically lying about it.

An accident can cause an A/C system to leak and so can age. An automotive A/C system is not hermetically sealed like the unit on a home and some refrigerant leakage is normal. The more the car ages the more it may leak.

It’s entirely plausible for an A/C system to work fine one month and 6 months or a year later the refrigerant loss is enough to cause the system to cool very little or not all.

As to what the problem is, no one knows. It could be a simple electrical fault (fuse, etc.) or refrigerant loss due to a leak. There are several methods of diagnosing the problem so the first step is find an A/C shop and have at it.

I think your are really off base.

The day you took delivery of your vehicle the AC could have been working perfectly. You don’t know for a fact if it was broken from delivery or months latter. I think you missed your oppurtunity when buying to have the car checked by a mechanic that normally check all systems out including AC.

Sorry about the bad luck.