The last place you want to be without air conditioning is Phoenix in the heart of summer. The average temperature in July is about 106, which is pretty miserable without air to keep you cool. While the temperatures outside are soaring, when it’s 106 degrees outside, after just one hour, the interior area of your car can reach up to 150 degrees! After a long day of cooking in the sun, you need to rely on your car’s air conditioner to make your ride home more comfortable. Stay cool with our car A/C maintenance this summer.
A yearly inspection of your air conditioning system can help identify any minor problems and repair them before they escalate into major air conditioning repairs. For example, a minor loss of refrigerant can be recharged and repaired before a significant loss of refrigerant causes damage to system components. Leaking refrigerant is both hazardous to the environment and your health, should it leak through the system and into the cabin area through the vents.
Summer AC Maintenance is Easy as 1,2,3
Regular auto AC maintenance ensures system refrigerant and lubricants are at the proper levels, reducing the risk of damage to the compressor, a costly repair.
- Replace the Cabin Air Filter – Like many components in your vehicle, the air conditioning system, like the blower fan, picks up dirt, dust, and other minor debris as you travel, which can clog the system. Clogged filters reduce airflow and efficiency and could also make you sick. Cabin air filters catch and prevent the growth of bacteria, dust, pollen, and exhaust fumes from entering the cabin area. A dirty filter can create musty odors and may reduce its ability to prevent harmful contaminants from entering the cabin area that could make passengers ill. Additionally, a dirty cabin air filter may bring dirt into the evaporator coil, harming the coil’s heat reducing ability. Filters should be replaced every 12,000 – 15,000 miles, however, those with serious allergies and those who live in areas with high pollution, should change them every six months or 4,000 – 5,000 miles.
- Clean the Condenser – Clearing any dirt, debris, or residue removed from the condenser will help reduce difficulties with airflow. Plus, by clearing any rubbish, your mechanic will be able to easily identify any loose, broken, or defective parts.
- Check for Leaks – Refrigerant is needed to cycle throughout the system to cool the air coming through the vehicle. Any leak, no matter the size, is trouble as it allows refrigerant to escape. Have a technician locate the leaks by performing a dye test, repair leaks, and recharge the system.
Do Your Part
There are many influences that may impact fuel consumption when using your car’s air conditioning. Using the air conditioning in your car lowers the efficiency by about three miles per gallon, however, this number may vary based on the size of your vehicle. Any time your air conditioner is used, fuel efficiency is reduced as it is redirecting energy from the engine to power the vehicle’s air conditioning. While having an annual inspection should certainly be on your list, there are things you can do to help preserve the function of your car’s AC system and fuel efficiency.
- Get Low – Set your air conditioning to the lowest temperature and turn the fan on high. By doing so, it makes the system run more efficiently by drying out the air less, which may reduce fuel consumption. In most A/C systems, the air is set to cool at 38 degrees. When the temperature is set higher, the system is made to re-heat the air, which requires more energy and fuel.
- Be Cool – Don’t pre-cool your car. By pre-cooling your system, you’re actually burning more fuel. Your vehicle’s air conditioning system works much better as your vehicle moves. The faster the engine moves, the faster the compressor operates, allowing the system to cool more efficiently. Avoid wasting fuel by letting your car run before driving away.
- Reconsider Recirculating – When passengers are in the back, it’s best not to use the recirculate function in your car (the button with the arrow in a half circle). The recirculating function takes cooled air from the front of the cabin area and pulls it back into the system, while this is comfortable for passengers in the front, rear passengers are left with hot, stale air.
While there is no set car air conditioning maintenance schedule, at the very least, an annual inspection should be performed to ensure components are functioning optimally. Ideally, the best time to service your air conditioner is before the temperatures get too high, during the spring or fall season. Many well-maintained vehicles can go their entire lifetime without requiring a recharge, though most vehicles will lose a minor amount of refrigerant yearly, as per the norm.