Things You Should Really Know About Your Car Air Conditioning

Air conditioning may not be a primary vehicle function but it still plays a vital part in overall car maintenance. Besides keeping you and your passengers cool during summer, your air conditioning also helps filter out pollen, pollutants and airborne bacteria. It essentially serves a multi-purpose in terms of heating, cooling and improving the cabin air quality.

If you want to maximise fuel economy, you might be interested to know that an air conditioning service will help. The reason is quite simple; when your air con coolant is low, the system has to work harder to cool the air which uses more fuel. Regular servicing also helps you avoid paying for expensive parts and repairs later on.

The refrigerant in your air conditioning system is extremely cold with an added benefit of cooling the air con compressor. Without refrigerant, or with very low levels, the compressor can overheat and result in total failure.

How Does Car Air Conditioning Work?

Inside the air conditioning system you’ll find a compressor containing a refrigerant or air con gas which needs regular refilling. When switching on the air con, this gas travels to a condenser allowing fresh air from outside the vehicle to pass over the condenser. The result is a rapid drop in temperature caused by the refrigerant quickly liquefying.

A drier removes impurities from the air when still in liquid form before reaching a thermal expansion valve. Thus, limiting the flow of liquid, the driver has full control over the temperature inside the car. As the liquid travels through evaporation coils it is converted into vapour and blown into the cabin in the form of cool air. At the same time, the refrigerant in gas form returns to the compressor where the entire process starts all over again.

Is Car Air Conditioning Part Of My MOT Or Regular Service?

The simple answer is no as having air conditioning is seen as somewhat of a luxury or ‘nice-to-have’. At the end of the day, it is not a critical system responsible for safety so MOT testers don’t include it in the test.

Air con is also not part of a standard service schedule but regular check-ups will help keep your car in better running conditioning. Some of the replacement parts are relatively inexpensive like the oil and air filters but the costs add up if you don’t get it checked. Many car manufacturers actually provide a separate air conditioning service schedule where they recommend when re-gas should take place which is usually every two years. However, this does depend highly on how often you use your car air conditioning.

Related: ‘How To Pass Your MOT The First Time

What Is Best; Air Conditioning or Open Windows?

It is obvious that using air conditioning puts additional strain on your engine which means using more fuel. This especially applies when driving at low speeds while driving faster on motorways has little to no effect. For that reason, it’s probably best to leave the air con off while driving around town unless it’s really cold or uncomfortably hot.

Top tip: If you must leave it on, remember to use the recirculate button as it cools the air already inside the car. This means that your car doesn’t need any additional power (or fuel) to cool the air coming in from outside.

Must Read: ‘Fuel Efficiency – Tips To Help You Save

Why Do Air Con Units Fail?

There are several reasons air conditioning units fail but low gas is the most common and also the easiest to fix. If you notice a bad smell coming from your air con, your system may be failing. The bad smell could be indicative of mould growing inside the system which could also cause a number of allergic reactions and other respiratory problems.

Strange noises from under your bonnet is a tell-tale sign that something is wrong. A normal sound should be the fan blowing cool air and not a banging or rattling sound. These noises could be directly linked to your car air conditioning system while grinding or grating might indicate issues with your car’s fan.

A more serious issue indicating that you require a recharge is visible signs of refrigerant leakage. If you see a greasy film on any of the air con components or fittings, or pools of refrigerant underneath the vehicle, your unit is leaking. This means that your car is losing refrigerant and will continue to leak until the system no longer functions.


Air Con Recharge And Services

Recharging your air con can take up to an hour and involves completely removing the old gas and refilling the unit with fresh refrigerant. At Elite Garages, we also offer our customers an optional extra air sanitizer for £10. This antibacterial clean removes any nasty smells and build-up of harmful bacteria in your system and vents.

While industry prices do vary slightly, our price is £70 depending on vehicle and includes the following:

  • Fresh system oil
  • Recharge the refrigerant to the recommended levels
  • Check the operation of the system
  • Full visual inspection which checks the temperature and looks for any leaks

We provide unmatched expertise and exceptional customer service offering dealership quality workmanship at a fraction of the cost. If you’re concerned about budget, we offer incredibly competitive prices with no hidden costs and full transparency.

Air Con Services With Elite Garages

We know how difficult it can be to take your car for a service while managing your busy schedule but you are in great hands with Elite Garages. Our staff are trustworthy, knowledgeable and provide expert advice, putting your best interest first. We always keep our customers informed and will never do any work unless you give us consent.

When you are ready, contact your local branch for more information on air conditioning servicing, prices and more. You can also book your vehicle for an MOT, full service or tyre check among many other services.