Despite living in a country that is hardly renowned for its reliable climate, in Shropshire, on average, the hottest month is July in summer and the coldest is January in winter. Air conditioning remains one of the most popular accessories in modern cars, with most medium to large models boasting the feature, as well as many smaller vehicles. While air conditioning is an extremely popular option for motorists, arguably few understand how the system works or what steps should be taken to maintain it.
However, to get the most from your in-car air conditioning system, it can pay dividends to take some simple steps to help maintain it and to keep your car refreshingly cool in the warmer weather:
Keep the windows shut and the cool air in!
On the hottest days it may be tempting to open your car’s windows while you’re travelling to make the interior as cool as possible, but doing so could make your air conditioning operate less efficiently. Forcing the air conditioning system to work harder to have the same impact will only mean you use up coolant and fuel more quickly, costing you in the long run - and you’ll probably not notice any benefits in terms of the temperature in your car either.
Run your air con weekly.
On a weekly basis, turn the air conditioning on and let it run for approximately 10 minutes. Set the temperature to the coolest setting and the fan on the quickest speed. This will help to keep the gas pressure at its optimum level and the compressor in tiptop condition, reducing the chance of a mechanical problem from developing.
If your car’s air conditioning has a defrost setting, it is also worth running this for 10 minutes every week, to help to remove moisture from the system and thereby prevent the build-up of mildew. You’ll enjoy air conditioning that is fresher and less prone to emitting unpleasant smells that will affect the comfort and enjoyment of your journeys.
Many problems with in-car air conditioning systems are a result of low levels of refrigerant that is used to cool down the air before distributing it throughout your vehicle. Refrigerant – also known as coolant – is like other liquids that your car uses in that it can diminish over time, so needs to be topped up periodically (this is called ‘recharging’). It is likely that your car’s air conditioning coolant has a recommended recharge time, possibly every two to three years, so check your vehicle’s service manual or handbook for the details.
Monitoring the amount of coolant left in-between recharges is important for two reasons. Firstly, if the level gets too low, it may have to be drained completely and refilled by a vehicle technician, costing you additional time and expense. Secondly, if the refrigerant decreases unusually quickly, there may be a leak in the air conditioning system that needs a thorough investigation. The coolant can also damage the environment, so a leak is certain to need investigation and repair.
A clean car, healthy air conditioning.
Over time, bacteria can thrive in the innermost workings of a car’s air conditioning system, so looking after the interior of your vehicle, by cleaning, dusting and vacuuming regularly, will help to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating. A full anti-bacterial clean of the air conditioning system will also help to keep your car fresh and odour-free.
Follow the service schedule.
Finally, it pays to ensure that you follow the advice stated in your car’s manual to ensure that all necessary services are carried out on the air conditioning system on time, to help to maintain its performance and give you the freshest, coolest cabin for long, hot summer journeys.