How to maintain your car’s air conditioning

A vehicle's air conditioning improves your comfort in the summer heat and helps defrost the windscreen during the winter. Therefore, it is a valuable piece of equipment that needs to be regularly maintained to remain effective.
How to maintain your car’s air conditioning
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What are the signs of air conditioning failure?

A car’s air conditioning system uses a refrigerant to cool the interior of the vehicle. This fluid undergoes natural evaporation of about 20% every year. Therefore, it is important to check the level regularly, especially as a shortage can damage the compressor, one of the most expensive parts of the air conditioning system.

You should have the unit serviced by a professional if you find that:

  • it blows only warm air
  • it produces an unpleasant odour
  • the airflow has lost its power, and the windscreen fogs up
  • it generates a metallic noise whenever it runs
  • it takes longer to defrost your windscreen
  • there is a water leak at the passenger’s feet

All these signs indicate that it might be time to get it serviced or recharged.

What happens when air conditioning is poorly maintained?

A poorly maintained air-conditioning system can lead to serious consequences for the mechanical functioning of your vehicle and your health. For example, if a filter is not replaced regularly, it can turn into a reservoir for bacteria, dust, pollen and other particles, leading to allergies and other health problems. The system should also be checked periodically to prevent gas leakage, which would cause it to run in a vacuum and risk damage. Such a leak could also lead to increased fuel consumption of between 10 and 20%.

When should you service your air conditioner?

Your air-conditioning unit should be serviced once a year or as soon as you notice any of the previously mentioned malfunctioning signs. It is best to have it checked by a professional who will clean it with an antibacterial product and change the cabin filter. Every two years, they will also replace the filter drier and top up the refrigerant gas.

Note that the frequency of cabin filter replacement also depends on where you live. If you live in a rural area, it may not be necessary to change it every year, as there are fewer particles and dust. In this case, it is advisable to replace it every 12,000 miles.

If you buy a used car, be sure to check the service booklet to see if you need to have your air conditioning filters cleaned, recharged or replaced. Doing this will ensure that your system remains as efficient as possible.

How to maintain your car’s air conditioning?

The easiest way to maintain your car’s air conditioning is to run it regularly, both in summer and winter. If an air-conditioning system has not been used for a long time and is suddenly switched on again, it is more likely to be damaged. Therefore, running it for at least 15 minutes each month is advisable. When servicing your car’s air-conditioning system, leave it to a professional with a certificate of competence.

Tips for extending the life of your air conditioning

Here are some tips to help your air conditioning last longer:

  • Don’t start the system directly at full power, but gradually build it up instead.
  • Turn off your air conditioning before you turn your engine off.
  • If your car has been in the sun for a long time, let the hot air out of the car before you turn on the air conditioner by driving a short while with the windows down.

Now you know what you can do to keep cool, even in hot weather and traffic jams.