Should I Drive With Air Conditioning In Winter?
We’ve all heard the myths about driving in winter with your air conditioning but is it fact or simply fiction? With the cold weather, most drivers switch off their air conditioning in winter but what should you really do to optimise your winter driving experience?
Most of us know that getting the air con re-gassed is often the best way to keep the system in working order but also continue using the air conditioning even in winter. Even if you don’t want your car to be any colder than it already is, run your air conditioning system every couple of weeks for short spells. It should be set to full-cold for 10 minutes or so which will allow the coolant to properly circulate through the entire system.
Fact is, you should consider this an essential part of car maintenance as it could save you money and time on air con repairs in the future. As they always say, “Prevention is better than cure”. A well-maintained car is not only safer on the road but also benefits from better fuel economy and minimal repair costs.
Air Conditioning And Winter Driving
Much like the human body, if you don’t use your air conditioning for long periods of time, the system could seize and circulation will suffer. Air cons are filled with refrigerant and oil that needs to flow through the system to ensure that all the necessary components are lubricated.
In addition to cooling your car, using the air con for warm air in winter is a great way to demist the windows. The air from the vents is dry which means your air conditioning acts as a dehumidifier. Not properly maintaining everything could result in leaky seals causing coolant levels to drop. This leads to more frequent re-gassing or worse, a system that can no longer hold gas which means replacing the seals.
Air Conditioning Garage Tips
If your air conditioning has been off for a while, moisture collects in the ducts and is blown out into the car resulting in a misting effect. We recommend that you always run your air con when the car has stopped especially if you only use it intermittently. Your air con can really help speed up the demisting process especially for winter driving.
In the event that the mist persists, it could be that you are using the air conditioning with the “recirculate” feature. That’s the setting that closes off the outside air to prevent fumes from entering the car. At this point, your windows will still steam up because the moist air is recirculating faster than the system can dry it. Turning the “recirculate” function off usually solves the problem but if it doesn’t, your air conditioning or cooling system could be faulty. It’s best to get it checked out at your nearest garage.
Windows Down Or Windows Up?
While air conditioning does wonders, many drivers like to feel the outside air but should you keep the windows open together with air conditioning? If you prefer the ‘fresh air’, we suggest keeping your windows open and air con turned off and here is why.
Using both simultaneously may not cause real damage to your system but it’s not economical. It goes without saying that air conditioning keeps the temperature inside your car at an optimal level and closing the windows means the cool air stays inside the car. Driving with the windows open will let warm air inside the car putting unnecessary stress on the system which could lead to potential problems later on. When it’s hotter and more humid outside than inside the car, you lose out running the air conditioning with the windows open.
Windows Down Or Air Conditioning
Windows down versus air conditioning has been a hotly debated topic for quite some time. Fact is, driving with your windows open does increase drag which subsequently slows the car down and requires more fuel to run. Driving with the air conditioning puts extra strain on the engine which also leads to lower fuel economy.
While there are many different opinions and studies, General Motors turned the tables in 2004 and settled the issue once and for all. They found a clear trend for lower fuel consumption when driving with the windows down compared to using the air-con off approach
Air Con Maintenance Tips
Air conditioning does more than just keep drivers cool as it helps filter out pollen, pollutants and airborne bacteria. If serviced properly, it will provide heat, cool air and improve air quality inside the cabin without any effort at all.
What Causes A Smelly Air Conditioning?
Ever notice strange odours coming from your air conditioning? This often means that you haven’t used it for some time and as a result, there could be a build-up of bacteria and mould within the system. When you notice a musty-type smell, try using an anti-bacterial cleaning product. The only way to prevent all of this is to change the cabin filter often and to use your air con more frequently.
As long as the system is clean, frequently and re-gassed, you shouldn’t have a problem. That said, you should book your car air con service especially when:
- it no longer blows cool air
- you notice bad smells coming from the vents
- it starts making strange noises
- there are visible leaks
Air Conditioning Service At Elite Garages
When in doubt, bring your car to any of our Elite Garages for an aircon service. Elite Garages have 13 branches nationwide offering exceptional customer service, expert and professional workmanship. We offer dealership quality at competitive prices you’d come to expect from a family run business.
If you have any concerns about your vehicle, call your local Elite branch. We service all major makes and models using only matching quality parts according to the vehicle manufacturers. Besides air conditioning, we also offer MOTs and car services, brakes, exhausts, clutch replacements, wheel alignment and batteries among others.