Car Air Conditioning Tips for Efficient Cooling and Preventing Common Issues
When summer is in full swing, many states around the country reach peak summer weather, with heat and temperatures soaring into the 100s. Fortunately, vehicles are equipped with air conditioning systems that provide cool airflow to keep drivers and passengers comfortable wherever they go.
However, the last thing any driver wants to experience during the summer months is a sudden noise, followed by the stoppage of all cool air flow in their vehicle. A broken air conditioner is more than just an inconvenience. During scorching months, driving around in your vehicle with absolutely no cool air coming through your vents can be dangerous. To that end, learn everything you need to know about how an air conditioner works, the common signs yours is failing, and how to care for your AC system so that you don’t go without cold air this summer.
Understanding the Role of the Car Air Conditioning System
First and foremost, the air conditioner is one of the most important components in a vehicle, even when it isn’t in the summer months. Air conditioner systems keep clean airflow throughout your vehicle, improving the all-around air quality and keeping you cool. With this said, it’s impossible to learn how to care for an air conditioning system if how it works is a complete mystery.
How Does an Air Conditioner Work?
The car AC system is a complex working of parts, but the actual way in which AC works can be broken down into a number of simple steps:
- The AC system is filled with refrigerant as a gas
- The compressor in your vehicle turns the refrigerant into a hot gas that is passed through a condenser
- Once this hot refrigerant gas passes through the condenser, it will be cooled into a liquid
- The air is dried, and debris is removed by the air filter
- Hot air is removed by the car’s evaporator, and cold air is pushed by the blower into the cabin
- The cycle repeats itself
The Importance of Air Conditioner Maintenance
The primary reason air conditioner maintenance is so important is due to the fact that the system uses a wide variety of parts under the hood. If a single one of those parts, such as the condenser or compressor, fails, the entire system may stop working. Regular air conditioner maintenance to test all components involved in the system is the best way to prevent a catastrophic failure.
Tips for Efficient Cooling in Your Vehicle
With the warm weather finally here, most drivers will follow a strategy of blasting air in short bursts to cool down their cars. However, this isn’t the most efficient way to cool your vehicle in the long run. The following two tips can assist you in cooling your vehicle:
1. Utilize the air conditioning system properly to maximize energy output.
Rather than blasting air for a couple of seconds on the highest setting to cool yourself down quickly, consider allowing your AC to run on a lower setting for an extended period of time. This will give it a chance to remove all warm air from the cabin. The time it takes for the day’s heat to rewarm all the cooled air will be far less than if you blasted the air.
2. Set the ideal temperature and fan speed for cooling.
Naturally, every person will have a different ideal temperature in their vehicle, aligned with fan speed. Find what temperature you are most comfortable with, then play around with the speed of your AC fan to see what level maintains that temperature.
Maintaining Your AC System: Everything You Need to Know
As mentioned, no driver wants to deal with a faulty AC system that provides no cool air to the cabin. Fortunately, there are a number of car maintenance strategies anybody can use to ensure the car air conditioner avoids any buildup or general AC problems:
Regular Inspections and Maintenance Procedures to Handle
Preventative action is the best way to reduce the risk of major problems occurring with your vehicle’s AC unit. Use some of the following tips to ensure your system stays operational:
- Have a professional inspect your AC system at major mileage milestones
- Use the air conditioner in the wintertime to avoid the degradation of parts
- Inspect the ground around and under your vehicle for signs of leakage
- Replace refrigerant in accordance with your owner’s manual
- Run the defrost mode every once in a while to really get rid of moisture
- Replace your air filter throughout the year
The Importance of Your Air Filter
One of the most important parts of your AC system in regard to driver and passenger health is the air filter. Any contaminants that may be pumped into the air due to the machinery running are removed via the air filter, which means an old filter may be allowing harmful chemicals into the cabin. It’s best practice to replace your air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles, but consider replacing it sooner if your owner’s manual dictates it.
Signs of AC Trouble and When to Seek Repairs: What to Watch Out For
Being proactive with your AC unit is the best way to avoid serious breakdowns with the various parts that make up the system. With that said, keep an eye out for the following four signs of malfunctions or overheating in your air conditioner:
1. An AC system that only blows warm air.
Naturally, an air conditioning unit that doesn’t blow cold air into a car’s interior should be the first indication that something is wrong. Before taking your vehicle into the shop, ensure that the ‘AC’ button is on, and double-check your temperature settings.
2. A pungent odor coming from your car vents.
Condensation in the evaporator of an air conditioner system can develop a nasty smell if left unaddressed for too long. Your evaporator should be successfully removing this condensation, but if your cooling system is malfunctioning, it can accumulate and create a smell.
3. Unusual noise when your AC starts running.
Another major sign that something may be wrong with the AC compressor, condenser, evaporator, or some other part is odd noises coming from your car when you try to run the AC.
4. Leaks coming from your dashboard.
Finally, keep an eye out for any potential leaks you may notice on your dashboard, as many people have common problems with their AC unit, resulting in this issue.
Preventing AC Issues in the First Place
By the time you notice the signs that something is wrong with your AC unit, it is already potentially too late to fix the breakdown. That’s why learning how to prevent an AC breakdown in the first place is so important. Utilize each of the following car repair and maintenance tips to keep your AC from having a serious problem:
Tips for Preventing AC Breakdowns
- Run your air conditioning system regularly
- Clean the inside of the unit to prevent the buildup of any gunk
- Take it easy on your AC during extremely hot days
- Work AC checkups into regular checkups for your car
- Avoid closing or blocking any necessary vents
Why All Drivers Need to Get Their AC Systems Professionally Serviced
Unlike certain parts of a car, the AC system is extremely complex, with several different components. Even checking refrigerant levels can be more difficult than checking oil, let alone identifying a refrigerant leak or other problems. Therefore, it’s best to allow a certified professional to inspect your AC system and diagnose any issues that may exist.
Energy and Environmental Considerations All Drivers Should Keep at the Top of Mind
Believe it or not, a vehicle’s AC system directly impacts a vehicle’s horsepower, which is why keeping a few general energy and environmental considerations at the top of mind is so important. Most notably:
- Only use your car’s air conditioning system when you actually need it
- Make use of automatic climate control options
- Avoid using dual temperature settings if available in your vehicle
- Change your cabin air filter regularly
- Schedule your regular air conditioner tune-ups
Protect Your Vehicle’s Components with Endurance
The summer months are some of the most fun throughout the entire year. After all, who doesn’t love constant sunshine and warmth as they go about their day-to-day business? However, a broken air conditioning system during hot weather can be expensive to replace, which will quickly put a damper on your positive summer mood. Fortunately, extended auto warranty contracts such as those offered by Endurance can help cover those costs so you can get back out on the road without burning a hole in your wallet.
With customizable auto protection plans, Endurance offers a range of options for any season. Start with basic stated component coverage with our Secure Plus plan and go all the way up to near bumper-to-bumper coverage with our Supreme package. By offering financial coverage for mechanical breakdowns outlined in your contract, Endurance can get you back on the road safely in no time at all.
Additionally, for a small activation fee, each plan comes with Elite Benefits that offer bonus perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance, reimbursements for up to two tires per year due to road hazards, up to $1,000 in total loss protection, and more.