BMW A/C – Air Conditioning Non-Functional – Won't Turn On
This answer is applicable for many BMWs in addition to the one listed below.
My wife has a 2006 X3 3.0i with 68K on it. An air conditioning problem has reared its ugly head with the warm weather coming. She recently ran her air conditioner and it never got cold with it being about 80 degrees outside. She does run the air conditioner a lot, but 68K seemed to be very early for a problem to arise so I read through a bunch of threads on various forums.
You would know more, but this problem seems to be more common than I thought on both the X3 and the earlier X5. It varied from people “needing” a new evaporator for $2K from the dealer or a leaky valve fix for $200. It also seemed that people had mixed results when going to an independent shop or the dealer and the dealer almost always said it needed a new evaporator. With all that said I am looking for your opinion on the subject. Also, air conditioning in a car seems to be a very complicated thing so would a air conditioning specialist be a good route to go instead of a general independent BMW shop?.
Yes, there have been some common A/C problems with the X3 chassis, as well as many later BMW models, to include leaking evaporators and expansion valves. Naturally, your issue could be one of these or anything else.
If the system is not turning on, the most common fault would be low refrigerant (low system charge) and this would only happen if there is a leak. The other possibilities include faulty pressure switches, faulty compressor clutch, a fault in the climate control panel … etc. You will need some initial basic testing in order to determine what part of the system is at fault. The first test should be to check the pressure in the system. If it is lower than the shut-off point for the low-pressure protection switch, then it’s likely that you have a leak in the system.
In order to diagnose a leak, the system must be charged (with refrigerant) and then a leak detector is used to search through the system, looking for the source of the leak.
I would suggest that you stick with an A/C specialist or a BMW specialist (or dealer) that is familiar with the common faults on these models.
Once you have a diagnosis, we can check out the parts price and availability.