What you need to know about your car's air conditioning
Over the last few years summers have become much warmer. An air conditioning system inside a car stopped being a luxury and became a necessity, especially when summer highs exceeded 30°C. Drivers tend to get nervous inside a hot car and they rush to reach their final destination thus making mistakes more frequently. It is very important to feel comfortable if you are going on a long journey, especially if you have kids in the back. For that reason, our advice to you is to check your car's air conditioning system in order to have enough time in case you need to intervene. It is best to have it done before summer by an authorized service or a service that specializes in A/C systems.However, if you forget to do it in spring, do it whenever because that way you will avoid awkward situations, costly repairs and possible negative health issues. Therefore, we suggest that you do check-ups between two service intervals in the following way:
Turn on your A/C, check if it is cooling sufficiently and if the ventilation blows at every speed. Listen carefully and try to detect any strange sounds that might imply irregularity. In case you notice any problems with your car's A/C make sure you go to a reliable air conditioning service. If everything works well, you may follow these few pieces of advice on how to use the A/C properly.
Firstly, protect your car from sun
For the temperature inside the car to be as pleasant as possible, make sure you protect the car from sunrays while it is still parked by putting protective foils, persiennes and wraps. This way the air inside the car won't get extremely hot and you will be able to cool the interior with the help of A/C more quickly.
Cool the car the right way
The best way to cool the car is to do it gradually so that your body doesn't suffer a shock. After you start the car, lower the windows turn on the A/C and set it to draw in the air from outside. Set the temperature to minimum and the fan to the highest speed. Direct the air towards the windows. This is the fastest way to get rid of hot air.
Use the A/C properly while driving
Close the windows and run the A/C system in recirculation mode because after the hot air is out the A/C can cool more efficiently. Reduce the fan speed and direct it towards the legs and the windshield. This way you will avoid cold air blowing in your face which is something that can jeopardize your health. It is essential that you set the temperature at 5-6° C lower than outside so that your body doesn't go through a shock after you get out of the car. It is enough to keep the ride pleasant and there is no need to exaggerate. If, however, you insist on lower temperatures, make sure you turn off the A/C 15 minutes before you reach your destination and turn on the ventilation. This way the temperature will rise gradually until it becomes equal to the outside temperature and your body will handle it more easily.
There is another very important reason why you should run the ventilation after you turn off the A/C. While the A/C is on humidity appears inside the evaporator, which induces the development of bacteria and other microorganisms that can damage your health. Ventilation will dry the evaporator and slow down the growth of bacteria. If, however, you smell an unpleasant odor it is highly likely that bacteria have caused it and that you will need to have the A/C disinfected. Whether you will do it by yourself or by an expert is up to you, but we highly recommend the latter. If you decide to do it yourself, the market offers specialized car cosmetics, most often in form of a spray or foam. In that case, make sure you read the instruction and follow it carefully because excess amounts of disinfectant may create more humidity and even damage the electronics. In case nothing helps, it is time for a service.
Another important piece of advice is not to turn on the air conditioning when the motor is cool and when you drive slowly. Short distance drives don't allow time for the evaporator to dry so it's better not to turn on the A/C at all.
How often should you have your A/C serviced
With proper use and regular services, your A/C should last as long as your car does. The car manufacturer has stated the service interval for changing the air filter and it is usually at 10-15,000 kilometers or roughly two years. However, it is best to check this information in the service booklet or in an authorized service. The service should be done by an expert because inadequate filter change and system refill may leave negative consequences on your health, most often on the respiratory organs. Bear in mind that it will cost you less to do regular services than to repair the A/C or install a new one.
How to have your A/C working for longer
Let us give you a piece of advice on how to have your A/C working for longer, besides having it serviced regularly. Turn it on a few times a week throughout the whole year and keep it on for at least two or three minutes. That way you will extend the life of the compressor and prevent gas and oil to evaporate.
Check the A/C when you are buying a used car
If you are buying a used car, pay attention to the state of the A/C system because repair might cost you more than 1000 euros. Bear in mind that the car had probably been parked at the dealer's for some time and that, if the A/C hadn't been serviced and the filter changed, you are probably buying the bacteria from the previous owner. You will check the A/C by turning it on and listening carefully for strange sounds. If the sound is steady, set the temperature to minimum and wait for ten minutes. The most common mistake buyers make is to turn it on for a minute or two just to see if it works, not waiting long enough to see if it can cool the inside of the car. In any case, we suggest that you visit a specialized service in order to be able to take necessary action in timely manner.
If you like this article, we suggest that you have a look at Total's infographic containing advice on how to protect your car from summer heat.
We are at your disposal for any further questions, doubts and suggestions.