As the name suggests, air-conditioning ‘conditions’ the air. It can cool down your car, reduce moisture content and humidity, and warm the car without increasing moisture. In fact, air-conditioning is the best way to defog a windscreen when it’s cold.

Air-conditioning is mainly evaporation and condensation, and compression and expansion. There is also a fluid that moves around your air-conditioning that evaporates at low temperature and condenses at higher pressure.

Originally, R-12 refrigerant was used but it wasn’t friendly to the environment. Now a non-CFC (chloroflurocarbon) R-134A is used which is kinder to the environment.

All this means that there are many components of your air-conditioning and its refrigerants that require maintenance and care.

Fuel Consumption

Many drivers don’t realise how much the use of air-conditioning relates to fuel consumption.

Depending on the age, type, and power of your vehicle, you will getter fewer kilometres to the litre when you use air-conditioning.

Tips for Self- Maintenance of Your Car Air Conditioner

Whilst you will, at some point, require a professional to inspect your air-conditioning there are things you can do yourself.

  • Run the air-conditioning at least every week
  • Set air-conditioning to ‘flow through’ ventilation not ‘recirculate’ when on the open road
  • Have smells investigated as air-conditioning units can attract bacteria and fungus
  • Have a full air-conditioning service every two years

Self-test (for vehicle owners with some mechanical skill) by;

  • Starting the vehicle and turning the air-conditioner to high
  • Check to see if the A/C compressor is working (check the air-conditioner in the engine bay and see if the centre pulley and the pulley itself are turning)
  • Check that the wires leading to the A/C compressor are working correctly
  • Look for leaks and cracks in the system. Leak detection kits are available for purchase whereby a dye runs along the lines. The dye will seep out of cracks making them visible to the naked eye

Air-Conditioning Considerations

Your car air-conditioning system does have intricacies that need to be checked by a professional. There are hoses and seals that may dry out and crack, coolant leaks, and other factors that contribute to poor performance.

A service will cover factors such as;

  • Inspection of hoses, drive belts, pulleys, and suction line
  • Test for leaks
  • Check operation of thermostat, condenser temperature, and valves
  • Evacuate the system, recover and check refrigerant, re-charge the system