Summer’s here and that means, for a few odd days over the coming months, we will be able to take off the rain jackets and sweaters and turn on the air-conditioning in our motors. Much of the technology we take for granted in our cars is perhaps not entirely necessary and a bit pointless but the same cannot be said of the heater and the air-con. Whoever first thought of using the heat generated by an engine to warm the passenger compartment was a genius. The same goes for the cold switch.
Generally speaking, as long as the AC system is regularly serviced it should emit icy cold air when needed all year round. It is a properly useful accessory. Yet there are still some old wives’ tales that people can take as fact, most of which have been debunked but still hang around like a bad smell; so here’s five car air-conditioning myths we can stop worrying about:
It Uses More Fuel!
In fact, opening the windows uses more fuel than deploying the air-con. At speed, with the windows open, a drag effect takes place causing the engine to work harder to maintain progress. This in turn will increase fuel consumption considerably and certainly more than using the AC.
A Closed System Needs No Maintenance
Wrong. Everything mechanical on a car to a greater or lesser extent needs attending to periodically. That’s why car makers are so keen on regular servicing by a professional garage; that’s no myth. Elsewhere we have shown why AC needs to be routinely maintained and this will ensure a nice blast of frigid air just when it’s needed.
Turn Off The AC When Cold-Starting
There is nothing wrong in making sure the air-con is off when starting but it isn’t at all necessary. This myth dates back to olden times when our vehicles had carburettors and starting a cold motor with the AC compressor running added extra load to the start procedure. Over time, doing this, it was thought, shortened the life of an engine. These days on 21st Century vehicles, accessories are mostly automatically shut down during the starting procedure. Forget about it.
It’s Cool In The Hills
Any appliance in use on a car will draw power from the battery which in turn is fed by the engine. For example and clearly, driving up a steep hill requires a little more power input from the driver. The myth here is that running extras when the engine is working hard will cause over-heating. Again, this dates back to the bad old days when cars did, quite often, overheat through hard work. The sight of a vehicle broken down at the roadside blowing off steam was fairly commonplace as was the need for the driver to replace a faulty thermostat and top up the radiator.
This is not something we see these days. We might complain about our cars from time to time but compared to the 20th Century they are so much more reliable and the cooling systems way more efficient and built to withstand very high external temperatures. Use the air-conditioning with confidence at any time.
We Don’t Need It In Winter, Do We?
Oh yes you do. Although the heating might be going full blast, the AC also aids in circulating air and helps keep the windows from steaming up. This is especially true on cold damp days when warm bodies getting into a cold interior will quickly steam up the windows, as will other activities.
Further; like the joints in the human body, an air-conditioning system will start to seize up if not used. Even if the owner doesn’t feel the need to use it all the time it will pay dividends in terms of reliability if the AC is run at regular intervals, even in the depths of darkest winter.
So don’t worry about the myths and legends of when and how air-con should be used. Use it whenever needed, keep it running smoothly through proper maintenance. Why not make an AC check a part of the annual service at your local garage?