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There are three ways to learn auto air conditioning repair: complete a certificate program, become an auto mechanic, or complete an auto mechanic apprenticeship program. Auto air conditioning repair requires specialized training and equipment, as this process uses pressurized gases that must be stored, transported, and disposed of under environmental legislation. Air conditioning in a car is a process of artificially cooling the air that is circulated inside the vehicle.
Air conditioning systems have existed in cars since the early 1940s. The methods used have changed over the years from Freon gas or R12 to R-134a. In the 1980s an environmental law was passed mandating all new cars use R-134a, which is a more environmentally friendly refrigerant, instead of Freon. This shift had an immediate impact on new cars. However, older cars were not required to switch over. As a result, all mechanics must be trained to repair both types of auto air conditioning systems, and to retrofit the old system into the new.
The most common way to learn auto air conditioning repair is to complete a certificate program. These programs are typically organized by the local community college that runs the automotive repair training program. Admission to this type of training is restricted to licensed auto mechanics or people who are currently enrolled in an auto mechanic apprenticeship program.
During the standard auto mechanic training programs, courses in air conditioning repair are part of the core curriculum. Advanced training courses in air conditioning retrofitting are offered in some areas, as this is a growing need. A wide range of community and career colleges offers auto mechanic training programs. These programs are typically two to three years in length and offer students a number of opportunities for co-operative learning or job placements.
Auto mechanic apprentice programs are more hands-on learning, with a specific number of courses that are offered during the evening, weekends or in a compressed three-month term, once a year. Students spend the vast majority of the program in the workplace and only attend classes a few months of the year. This program takes longer to complete, but provides the same certification.
The options available for learning auto air conditioning repair are quite varied. However, all require a minimum amount of training and skill in auto mechanics and repair. There are a number of online schools that offer auto air conditioning repair and maintenance classes. While the courses may provide the theoretical information, these skills cannot be used without a proper method of dealing with the gas canisters used in this type of air conditioning.