The AC goes out when I drive through puddles.
I bought a used 1995 four-cylinder Toyota Camry. The air conditioner goes out whenever I drive through a not-too-deep water puddle. I asked the service manager
about it, and he said it's a safety precaution. My owner's manual states that when the AC light flashes, the AC should be turned off due to slippage of the drive belt or
trouble in the compressor. The Toyota service department checked the drive belt and said there is no slippage. Is someone trying to pull something over on me until my
warranty expires? -- Jane
RAY: Yes. And they seem to be doing a pretty good job, I might add.
TOM: I think your belt is slipping. The AC compressor is way down near the ground on this car. And when you drive through puddles, the AC belt is getting wet and
sliding over the pulley.
RAY: I have no reason to believe that there's anything wrong with the compressor itself, since puddles should have no affect on it.
TOM: So I'd ask the folks at Toyota's service department to be nice guys and change the belt for you. They've checked it and have probably determined that it's tight
enough. But it may be glazed, which would make it more likely to slip when wet.
RAY: If a new belt doesn't fix it, then you may have to reconsider your definition of "not-so-deep." If the wake or the water itself is high enough to actually cover some
of the belt, then even a brand-new belt will slip.
TOM: And by the way, Jane, the owner's manual gives you good advice about turning off the AC if the light comes on. If the light came on because the compressor
seized, you'd want to turn off the AC and let the compressor pulley "freewheel" so you don't damage the belt and lose your alternator (which is driven by that same
What's the best way to warm up your engine in the morning? Find out by ordering Tom and Ray's pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even
Knowing It!" Send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.
Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk section of cars.com on the World Wide Web.
?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.