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.
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
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