Summer is here in a big fashion. The air waves are packed with heat and no doubt the one place this is making feel uncomfortable is in the cabin of your car. Good air conditioning system is the obvious answer.
Obviously like all of your vehicle’s systems, air conditioning is no different. Use it in a conservative, careful way and you can prolong its lifespan, use it without forethought and you could find yourself with a new purchase on your hands sooner than you think.
To help you get the most out of your air conditioning system for many years, you can find some of motoring’s best tips in our easy to use guide.
Consider Your Use
It can be extremely tempting to turn the temperature setting on your air con to the lowest possible level during the summer months. This puts a huge degree of strain on the engine and can lead to overheating, plus you’ll really feel the heat the moment you step out of your car into the natural air.
Why not simply set the air conditioning to a few degrees below the ambient temperature and this will put a whole lot less strain on your engine, promoting longer life of the system and keeping you normalised with the actual temperature rather than freezing?
And on those shorter trips, why even bother using the air conditioning? It takes time to get going and winding down the window is a much better option. As a rule of thumb we suggest you only use the air con when going over 30 mph and putting it on recirculate mode will also help prevent your engine getting too hot in the summer climate.
Close Those Windows
If you activate your air conditioning, be sure to close the windows. It is very tempting to open them up in the heat, but doing so actually makes your engine work harder, increasing coolant and fuel consumption and you’ll be hard pushed to notice the benefits in terms of the temperature in your car either.
Regular Running Keeps It Sweet
Make sure that you give your air conditioning system a chance to stay active and run it at least once a week on a longer journey over 10 minutes. Ensuring that the moving parts and the hoses, valves and pumps stay lubricated is vital. Simply set the system to the maximum levels of speed and the lowest temperature. This actually maintains the optimal gas pressure for the system and keeps the compressor in the best condition, greatly reducing your chances of a mechanical problem developing.
Make sure you do the same with the defrost setting as it will help remove any moisture that may have gathered in the system and stops the build-up of unpleasant mould. Who wants that musty smell in the car when you turn on the AC unit? This also has the added benefit of reducing the moisture in the car in the winter.
Step on the Gas
One of the main problems that you see time and time again with AC systems is down to low levels of coolant gas in the system, which is used to take all the heat out of the air before it’s recirculated in the vehicle. The coolant, which is known as refrigerant, diminishes over time and needs periodic recharging. You can find out more by checking about suitable service periods in your vehicle’s service manual.
Ensure that your coolant levels do not get too low, as this may require a costly complete refill from a technician. Also regular checks mean that you keep an eye on the rate at which your system is losing gas. If this is happening too quickly it may be the case that there’s a leak or problem with the system and early identification could keep the fix costs low.
Add to the Regular Service
If you have your car regularly serviced, then it should be a simple task to ask the mechanic to check refrigerant levels and to top up this coolant if needed. Not all garages include this in the standard service but most will be happy to perform the additional check.
We would also recommend that you get a full air conditioning service, preferably in the cooler months before the heat waves start. As with your boiler at home, you don’t want to find out the system doesn’t work when you need it most.
Clean it Out
You air con system can harbour all kinds of bacterial and fungal nasties, which may cause irritation and problems for asthma and allergy sufferers. Keeping the interior of your car clean can help as it stops particles being sucked into the system and a good clean with anti-bacterial agents will ensure the unit stays free from dirt.
On a hot day there’s nothing like the air con unit. Remember when you’re sitting in your car smiling because you have managed to keep your system working properly that you don’t gloat too much at those who are relying on the windows and a tissue to wipe away the sweat.
And be sure to enjoy the summer.