Summer has finally arrived! May’s showers have finished, the skies are clear, and the sun is out. Everybody rejoices in the summer sun, but it also means a heatwave is upon us. When your car is parked under the sun, it pretty much becomes an oven. Luckily all modern cars are equipped with an air conditioning system which can quickly cool the interior temperature. However car air conditioners tend to fail over time if not properly maintained. A car without air conditioning during the summer heatwave can quickly become uncomfortable and at times, a health risk. In this article we’ll show you steps to keep your car’s air conditioning system healthy and ready to fight the summer heat!
1. Clean your air filters
Air filters trap dirt and other debris from entering the cabin through the air conditioning system. When the cabin air filter gets filled with debris air flow into the cabin becomes difficult. Cabin air filters are relatively inexpensive, and can be replaced on your own. Access the cabin air filter by the glove box. Older cars may need the dashboard to be dismantled. Check your owner’s manual for more details on your cabin air filter.
2. Maintain your engine cooling system
Engine temperature can affect the efficiency of the air conditioning system. Make sure to flush the radiator periodically. Coolant carries heat from the engine block and is cooled in the radiator. An efficient radiator makes engine operating temperatures manageable.
3. Check the fan belt
The “fan belt” is a term also used for V-belts and Serpentine belts. Accessories which need power are connected by V-belts and pulleys to the drive shaft. The air conditioning compressor relies on the V-belt for power, which can crack and break through time. A broken V-belt will leave the compressor with no power and an air conditioning system that doesn’t cool.
4. Turn off your air conditioning system before shutting off the car
We’ve all been guilty of just switching off the car without turning the AC off first once we get to our destination. Turning off your air conditioner before shutting off the car will help your car’s battery survive longer. Not doing so shocks system and can damage the air conditioning system. In addition, the battery will have to work harder to turn the car back on.
5. Park in the shade
Always blasting your air conditioning will place unwanted stress on the different components of the system. It will also take power away from the engine making you compensate with more accelerator inputs. This will lead to lower gas mileage numbers. Parking in the shade will cool the cabin of your car. The air conditioning system will cool air at a lower temperature giving it the opportunity to cool the cabin faster.
6. Don’t max it out
Pressing “MAX AC” on your climate control or placing everything in the highest possible setting will add unwanted stress to the different components of the air conditioning system that will eventually lead to unexpected damage. Cool down a hot cabin by opening the windows and turning on the fan. Start driving to help the compressor perform better. Turn the air conditioner on and set it at the lowest temperature. Once cool air starts to come out of the vents, roll your front windows up leaving the back windows open. Keep adjusting the fan till your desired temperature is reached before closing the rear window.
7. Use it!
Your air conditioning refrigerant carries lubricating oils to vital parts of the system. Lubricating oil keeps vital seals from drying up and starting to crack. If you aren’t using your car, turn the air conditioning on every now and then and leave it running for 10 minutes. This will also blast out the mildew buildup of the system.
8. Periodic maintenance
A healthy air conditioning system requires periodic maintenance. Getting it checked at least once a year is vital. Refrigerants that circulate in the system needs to be topped up. Also, a good cleaning will help your air conditioner run efficiently. Your mechanic can also identify problem spots in the system and address it before it completely cripples the air conditioning.
The air conditioning system in your car isn’t just used during the summer. It also controls the interior climate during winter. Remember that this air will be blowing into your face almost all year around so keeping it clean is also something you should do. Mould and airborne pathogens can circulate the system and greatly affect your health. Keeping the maintenance schedule will ensure that your air conditioning system stays free from those health hazards. Don’t just look cool in your car this summer, stay cool!