Air conditioning is increasingly a standard feature on most modern cars. But how many of us neglect our air con once the warm weather goes and then find that it doesn’t work come the following summer?
Air con, like cars in general, suffers badly when it is not used. The rubber seals in the system dry out and leaks become more of a problem. Condensation can build up in the system, too, leading to the growth of bacteria and mould, which can cause bad smells when you do finally switch on the air con.
Using air conditioning will slightly increase your car’s fuel consumption – but the extra drag caused by open windows at high speeds will use more extra fuel than air conditioning will. On top of this, air conditioning reduces the humidity in the air, making it feel fresher and less stuffy. This helps drivers stay alert and awake on long journeys without having to endure the noise and buffeting of open windows.
The best way to look after your air conditioning is to use it regularly. Here’s what we recommend:
- Run your air conditioning once a week for at least 10 minutes all year round. This helps keeps the system lubricated and prevent leaks developing due to dry seals.
- During the cold months, crank up the heater to dry out the pipes after running the AC.
- Use your air con to clear your windscreen when it gets misted up. Air conditioning reduces humidity, so your windscreen will clear much more quickly than with a heated windscreen or with the hot air blower alone.
- Use air con to keep the car cool on long trips and to minimise fuel consumption. At high speeds, the increase in fuel consumption caused by AC will be negligible once the car has cooled down – certainly far less than if you have the windows open, which increases aerodynamic drag.
- On very wet, damp days at any time of the year, turn your air conditioning on and turn the heater up. Doing this prevent the windows misting up and enables you to get just the right temperature. It will also make the air inside the vehicle fresher and more pleasant. This is how climate control works – by combining the air con with the heater to get just the right temperature and reduce humidity.
- Air conditioning does not increase fuel consumption as much as the motoring press would have you believe. The only time it really does use more fuel is on short, stop-start journeys where the engines is running at low speed and the air con system is working flat out to cool the car down.
- Get your car’s air con regassed every 2-3 years – this will help prevent other problems, which are much more expensive to fix.
If your car has air conditioning, the main thing to remember is that you should use it as much as possible. It won’t ‘run out’ – and in any case, a certain amount of gas leaks out of the system every year, whether you use it or not.
For more information on car air conditioning, check out this site.