Mike Waters' blog: 12 May 2010 - Feeling the heat?
12 May 2010
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
It's that time of year again when many drivers turn on their air conditioning for the first time in months and are surprised to find that it doesn't seem to be quite as cold as they remembered.
In fact, in some cases they are probably right. According to experts, air conditioning can lose 10% of its refrigerant gas each year, meaning the compressor has to work much harder to pump it through the system. That's why vehicle manufacturers actually recommend your air conditioning system is recharged with gas and lubricant every two years. This isn't included in the manufacturers' routine servicing though so if you have a vehicle older than two years then it's well worth getting the air conditioning checked.
Many drivers are still not aware that you can't just switch your air conditioning on after a year and expect it to perform at its best. Like other parts of the car, air conditioning needs regular use and servicing or it can lead to costly repair bills. If your air conditioning isn't working effectively it can also use more fuel because you need to leave it on longer to cool the car down.
Regular use is the key to keeping air conditioning at its best. Experts recommend running it for at least an hour a week to keep the system components from drying out. However, this isn't always practical if people are driving shorter journeys, the key thing is to turn the air conditioning on full for at least five minutes every week, even in winter and this should make a significant difference.
The important point is that this is done all year. Air conditioning is very effective for demisting the car in the winter and that's one way of making sure it is used regularly.
Finally if you think your air conditioning isn't running at its best, one way to tell is to put the fan and the air conditioning on full for a few minutes and then see if the air coming out of the vents feels icy cold. If it doesn't then it is well worth getting it checked. Other signs to look out for are strange noises when the air conditioning is running or the windows being slow to demist.
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