Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions for A Refrigerator 12v Isn’t Cooling


When using a refrigerator 12v, you may encounter situations where it does not cool as expected. Having a refrigerator that is not cooling properly can be a frustrating experience. However, not all cooling issues are indicative of product malfunctions or damage. Many cooling issues can be resolved through simple and correct troubleshooting processes. This article provides a step-by-step guide to troubleshoot common refrigerator cooling problems and offers practical solutions.

car fridge

1. Troubleshooting a 12v Refrigerator Not Cooling

Q1: Compressor fan is normal, but the device is not cooling.

When the compressor fan is functioning correctly, but the 12vrefrigerator fails to cool, there are a few steps you can take to address the issue:

  • Step 1: Check the temperature setting of the fridge: Ensure that the temperature is set to room temperature or above 5℃/41℉ for refrigeration or non-cooling mode. Depending on the desired cooling effect, adjust the temperature within the recommended range.  Follow the steps below for further troubleshooting. We recommend setting the temperature to (0℃~-5℃/32℉~41℉) for refrigeration, (-15℃/5) for freezing, and MAX for quick cooling mode with -20℃/68.

  • Step 2: Check for consistent temperature display: The refrigerator starts every 3 to 5 minutes after reaching the set temperature. If the actual displayed temperature differs from the set temperature by ±4℃, it is considered normal. If the displayed temperature remains at room temperature and does not decrease as expected, it indicates a non-cooling state. Proceed to the following troubleshooting steps.

  • Step 3: Look for error codes on the display: If you see codes like F1 or similar during use, it could indicate voltage issues. Try using a 220/12V voltage or test the refrigerator with another power source, as these codes may be due to voltage-related issues.

Q2: Compressor does not start, but the fan is spinning normally, and the device is not cooling.

When the compressor fails to start, but the fan is spinning, follow these steps to potentially resolve the issue:

  • Step 1: Turn off the power for one hour: Sometimes, a temporary power reset can resolve the issue. Then, restart the refrigerator and observe if it cools normally. If the refrigerator can cool normally after the power cycle, it indicates that the issue has been resolved. Resume normal use once the power is restored. 
  • Step 2: Contact customer service for repair: If the refrigerator still cannot cool properly after the power reset, it may indicate refrigerant leakage or clogged dry filters. In such cases, it is recommended to contact the customer service department for professional assistance and repair. They will be able to diagnose the issue accurately and provide the necessary solution to restore proper cooling functionality to your portable refrigerator.

Q3: Compressor starts, fan does not spin, and the device is not cooling.

If you find that the compressor starts, but the fan does not spin, resulting in insufficient cooling, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Check for airflow near the heat dissipation vent: Place your hand close to the vent and see if there is any noticeable airflow. If there is no airflow, it indicates that the fan is not spinning.
  • Step 2: Assist heat dissipation: Use a household fan to blow air towards the refrigerator's heat dissipation vent. This can help facilitate normal heat dissipation and improve cooling efficiency. Observe if the refrigerator cools down properly with the assistance of the fan.
  • Step 3: Inspect the fan's wiring: Open the heat dissipation cover and check if the wiring of the fan is loose. If you find any loose connections, try securing them properly. However, if the wiring is intact and the fan still fails to spin, it is advisable to contact customer service.

Q4: Neither the compressor nor the fan starts, the display screen is normal, and there are no protective codes displayed.

In situations where neither the compressor nor the fan starts, and there are no abnormal error codes displayed, try the following steps:

Step 1: Restore factory settings: Press and hold the reset button for 3 seconds to restore the refrigerator to factory settings. Then, turn on the power again. If the refrigerator starts functioning, it indicates that the issue has been resolved, and you can resume normal use.

Step 2: Check module connections: If the refrigerator still does not start after restoring factory settings, remove the module cover and unplug and reinstall all the wires connected to the module. Afterward, start the test again. If the refrigerator starts functioning, it suggests that there might have been a loose connection, which has been rectified.

Step 3: Replace the module: If the refrigerator still fails to start after reinstallation, it may be necessary to replace the module. In such cases, it is advisable to contact customer service or refer to further assistance and information regarding instructional videos specific to your refrigerator model.

Please note that the troubleshooting steps provided may vary slightly depending on the refrigerator model. If you encounter any difficulties or uncertainties, it is always best to seek assistance from the manufacturer's customer service team.

bodega car fridge

2. Troubleshooting Steps for a Refrigerator That Cannot Reach the Desired Temperature

Apart from a refrigerator not cooling adequately, another common issue is when it fails to reach the desired temperature. Here are some troubleshooting steps to address this problem:

Q1: Cannot reach the specified temperature, and error codes are displayed.

If the refrigerator fails to reach the specified temperature and displays error codes, follow these steps:

Step 1: Set the temperature to below freezing and observe: Adjust the temperature setting to below freezing (0℃/32 or lower) and keep the refrigerator empty. Monitor the temperature change over a period of 3–5 hours. If the refrigerator can cool down properly within this time frame, it indicates that there are no faults with the unit.

Step 2: Check for heat dissipation vent blockage: Ensure that there is at least a 15 cm gap between the heat dissipation vent and any surrounding objects. If the vent is obstructed, it can hinder proper heat dissipation, affecting the cooling performance. To resolve this, turn off the power for 30 minutes to an hour, move any obstructions away from the vent, and then restart the refrigerator.

Step 3: Verify fan operation: Check if the fan inside the refrigerator is spinning. In some cases, when the temperature drops to around -4 °C/24.8, an F5 error code may appear repeatedly, indicating a fan malfunction. To facilitate cooling, you can use a household fan to enhance airflow. If the refrigerator cools down properly with the additional fan, it is recommended to contact customer service and arrange for a fan replacement.

Q2: Insufficient cooling effect.

If you notice ice formation around the sides of the refrigerator but not in the middle or if the temperature display shows "- -," consider the following:

Step 1: Understanding cooling pipe placement: The cooling pipes are located on the inner walls of the refrigerator. It is common for ice to form more quickly on the sides compared to the middle, as the walls are in direct contact with the cooling pipes.

Step 2: Activate the refrigeration compartment: If the temperature display shows "- -" and the refrigeration compartment appears to be turned off, press and hold both the refrigeration compartment temperature adjustment button"-""+". Release the button once the temperature displayed.

car fridge temperature setting

Q3: The refrigerator cannot reach -20 °C/-4.

If the refrigerator fails to reach the desired temperature of -20 °C/-4, consider the following:

Step 1: Check for overloading: If the refrigerator is more than two-thirds full, it may cool down at a slower rate. The items inside the refrigerator need time to absorb the cold air, resulting in a gradual decrease in temperature. Ensure that the refrigerator is not overloaded and has sufficient space for proper air circulation.

Step 2: Allow sufficient cooling time: When starting a new refrigerator, it does not immediately reach the desired temperature. It requires running for 2–3 hours to observe the cooling progress. Give the refrigerator enough time to cool down properly before evaluating its performance.

Step 3: Avoid frequent power cycling and error codes: Repeatedly turning the refrigerator on and off or encountering protective codes like F1 can impact the cooling effect. 

Learn also: Quick Way To Solve A Problem with Portable Refrigerator Error Codes

Tips for Car Refrigerators

During extreme weather conditions, such as high temperatures exceeding 39°C/102.2, it's crucial to consider the following tips for car refrigerators:

  • Adjust temperature settings: When the ambient temperature reaches around 32°C-40°C/89.6℉~104℉, adjust the refrigerator's temperature setting. It is recommended to set the freezing temperature to -10℃~-15℃/14℉~5℉, and the refrigeration temperature to 22℃-8℃/71.6℉~46.4℉. High temperatures can trigger the compressor's over-temperature protection mode, leading to prompts like F3, F4, or F5. To restore normal operation, disconnect the power for 30 minutes and then power it back on.

  • Ensure proper ventilation: When using a car refrigerator, ensure that there is ample space around the compressor's heat dissipation vent. Avoid placing objects near it to allow for adequate heat dissipation. This ensures the refrigerator can function optimally by "breathing" properly.


In conclusion, encountering cooling issues with your refrigerator does not necessarily indicate a product malfunction or damage. By following a simple troubleshooting process, you can often identify and resolve the problem. This article provided step-by-step guidance for troubleshooting scenarios where the refrigerator is not cooling properly and when it fails to reach the desired temperature. Additionally, we shared tips for car refrigerators, considering the challenges posed by high outdoor temperatures. By applying these troubleshooting methods and tips, you can ensure efficient cooling performance and prolong the lifespan of your refrigerator.


Q: How can I troubleshoot a 12v refrigerator that is not cooling properly?

  • A: Start by checking the temperature setting, ensuring it is appropriate for refrigeration or non-cooling mode. Follow the recommended temperature ranges and perform the non-cooling steps provided in the article.

Q: What should I do if the compressor does not start but the fan is spinning?

  • A: Try turning off the power for one hour and then restart the refrigerator. If it can cool normally afterward, the issue may have been resolved. If not, contact customer service for further assistance.

Q: What if the compressor starts, but the fan does not spin?

  • A: Check for airflow near the heat dissipation vent. Use a household fan as a temporary solution to facilitate heat dissipation. If the refrigerator cools down properly with the assistance of the fan, there may be an issue with the fan. Contact customer service for a replacement.

Q: What should I do if both the compressor and the fan do not start?

  • A: Try restoring the refrigerator to factory settings and check for a response. If there is no improvement, reinstall the module wires and test again. If the issue persists, it may be necessary to replace the module. Consult customer service for guidance.

Q: How can I troubleshoot a refrigerator that cannot reach the desired temperature?

  • A: Follow the steps provided in the article, such as checking for error codes, ensuring proper heat dissipation, and observing cooling time. Adjust the temperature setting and avoid overloading the refrigerator.

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