Every motorist in the land will have, at some time or another, experienced one or the other annoyances of a frosted or steamed-up windscreen. Out comes the scraper or dashboard cloth, to clear the glass. That’s just one of the reasons why we love air-conditioning (AC) in our motors.
Why Air-Con Is Good
Car air-conditioning, or the more sophisticated ‘climate control’, is a boon on hot days because cold air can be wafted through the cabin without recourse to opening the windows. In any case, the air outside is likely to be as warm as the air inside so all opening the windows does is create a draft. In virtually every vehicle on the road today, air-con is considered a must-have.
How To Use The Air-Con
Running the AC in a car helps remove moisture from the air. This is ideal all year round. The system isn’t just for hot days; in winter it keeps the windscreen clear of both condensation (especially when warm people pile into a cold car) and frost. On wet days, AC dries the air which helps prevent the build-up of damp-induced mould and bacteria on interior fabrics and in the air vents. In short, run the system regularly, all year round. AC and heating work well together.
How To Damage Your Air-Con
The biggest sin is not using it at all. Yes, running an AC system does use a tiny amount more energy and that goes more so for electric cars too; but in most motors it is negligible and what price comfort when driving? It’s a good reason to ensure the battery is in tip-top condition, though.
Don’t ignore your AC. Use the system every month, rain or shine. As with any moving parts, if it is not properly lubricated by usage then it will ultimately fail. Your AC is full of refrigerant and oils that need to circulate to keep the moving parts lubricated. Not using it can result in leaking seals and that means a trip to your local car servicing garage for what may be an expensive, unnecessary repair.
If the air-conditioning doesn’t seem as cold as it used to be, or if there is a nasty smell or the dreaded mould starts to appear then the system is telling you that it needs attention. AC units lose refrigerant in general use; it’s not a fault, it just needs topping up. A fatal error is to try and do this on the cheap and circumvent cost. That’s why it is important that owners have to bite the bullet and get the AC properly maintained by a professional servicing garage who will thoroughly check for leaks or a faulty compressor.
On a cold morning, it is tempting to leave the motor ticking over to ‘warm up’. This is a fallacy. It wastes fuel and adds to emissions. Cars warm up quickest when driven away and used. That’s why owners should clear screens manually. AC takes a short while to chill down so running the system immediately on a cold start doesn’t help. The blower just moves air about initially; Let the air-con get cold as the car warms up. Working the system hard from the outset will just waste energy and hasten the arrival of problems.
A car’s handbook will give all the required servicing intervals for all aspects of maintenance. Generally speaking, it is best to get air-conditioning serviced every two years. Just ask your professional garage to add it to the regular service schedule or when the car goes for it’s MOT. That’s what all the cool drivers do.