Especially in Australia, having a working air conditioning unit in your car is fairly essential. There's nothing as frustrating as getting into your car on a hot summer's day only to be greeted by warm stuffy air, despite the fact your air conditioning is cranked to full blast.
For many car owners a good air conditioning system is a real luxury. But with a few unit essentials and a little TLC, your car's air con can be reliable and super effective – regardless of what the outside temperature throws at you. What does it take to look after your car's air conditioning system though? It's more than simply turning it on when you get hot; it actually needs to be serviced to keep things running smooth. Here's a few car air conditioning essentials so you're not left sweltering this summer.
When your car's air conditioning isn't cooling the inside of your vehicle, it's probably time for a re-gas. Australia's different weather patterns can take its toll on your vehicle and providing a comfortable climate inside the car through heating and air conditioning is an important part of looking after it.
One of the vital parts of your car's air conditioning system is the evaporator. Designed to remove the heat from inside your vehicle, it's essential to your cooing unit, comfort and sanity. Because it works by absorbing the heat, changing it into vapour and compressing it to cool air through the refrigerant, it's most susceptible to corrosion by harmful acids. Usually by this stage, the evaporator is beyond repair.
The best way to ensure this doesn't happen to your car's evaporator is by regular air conditioning servicing. With electrical wiring, condensers, compressors and other technical components in the system it's important to keep the unit repaired and re-gassed by a professional to keep it working efficiently and safely.
On average, your vehicle's heating and cooling system will need to be serviced or re-gassed every 1-2 years. Whilst some cars can go a good 5+ years without needing to be re-gassed and the air conditioning still working fine, it pays to still keep on top of regular servicing for the compressor's sake (the belt-driven device that transfers refrigerant gas into condenser). Even the best running vehicles will lose around 10% of the gas in their air conditioning systems annually and as this goes, so will that clean cold air.
Your car's air conditioning system should be thought about like the engine and overall performance of your vehicle. You don't wait until your car dies before you get it fixed (well, at least you shouldn't!) so why wait for the heating and cooling system to go before you have it re-gassed or serviced? How often your car air con is re-gassed will eliminate the amount of potential problems it may have down the track.
A heating and cooling system that is leaky is a good indicator your unit is well overdue for a service. In some cases though, it's normal not to detect a leak in the system prior to re-gassing and this is why it's essential to have regular services. Air conditioning that isn't working properly can be a sign that the unit is leaking – regardless of whether you can see the leak or not.
Older vehicles are more prone to slow leakage of refrigerant and should be checked by a specialist to detect any leaks. During an air conditioning service in your car, the following will be inspected:
The cost of getting your car's air conditioning unit re-gassed will vary based on the type of vehicle and the location of the workshop you go to. Whilst a regular car service will check for obvious faults that can be associated with the heating and cooling system, it's worthwhile and healthy practice for your vehicle to have a comprehensive air con service.
There's other warning signs too, indicating your vehicle's heating and cooling system is 'unhealthy'. Musty odours when you turn your unit on – even after they have cleared – can mean a build-up of bacteria travelling through the vehicle's air vents. Bacteria and mould are both common in air conditioning units and can lead to headaches, common colds and allergies.
Whilst it's easy to ignore the signs, especially when the smell usually clears quickly, it's important to know that the build-up of bacteria and mould is still happening behind the scenes. Every time you use your system, the bacteria grows over time or can be set off from cigarette smoke or a blocked evaporator drain. Because your car's air conditioning system is a breeding ground for fungi, servicing and treatment needs to take place every 1-2 years.
To protect your car's health, the environment and you; stay clear of cheap air conditioning re-gassing. Cheap and dodgy car servicing workshops typically replace your vehicle's refrigerant with M30 – a highly flammable gas that's harmful to your heating and cooling system, the environment and your health.
Because refrigerant gases are damaging to the ozone layer if released irresponsibly, it's essential to have your system serviced by a qualified professional. Some companies by law will recycle refrigerant gasses to protect the environment and prevent any contribution to global warming.
Air conditioning units that are working effectively will not just keep you cool in summer, but also remove the humidity from the interior and eliminate potential health problems.