Auto A/C operating and maintenance tips
Here’s how to get the most from your vehicle’s air conditioning system; how to achieve the best performance, and also how to maintain it to avoid failures.
To achieve the quickest interior cool down, perform the following steps:
If possible, leave the windows down slightly on hot sunny days. Temperatures in a closed car can reach 140° F and higher! An A/C system works by removing heat, so the cooler the interior temperature is to start with, the easier and faster it will be able to do its job.
When you first get in the car, roll all the windows completely down, or even better, open the doors for a short period of time. This helps the hot interior air to move out quickly.
When you first turn the A/C on, set the controls to “MAX” and/or “REC”, and high blower. This moves the highest volume of air, recirculates the already cooling air for even faster cool down, and prevents hot outside air from entering. As soon as you are comfortable, switch the system to “NORM” or “OUTSIDE”, and the lowest blower speed that still provides comfort. The lower the blower speed, the colder the air from the system.
Applying window tint can help reduce interior temperatures. The tint does not necessarily have to be dark to reflect sunlight away, as some tints have a metallic substance within them for this purpose. (Note: The application of window tinting products may not be legal in some states or municipalities. Always check local regulations.)
More Operating Tips
Automatic Temperature Control systems operate differently than manual systems. Make sure you read the owners manual for your car to gain a full understanding of exactly how your particular system works. Generally speaking though, to achieve as quick a cool-down as possible with most ATC systems, set the temperature as low as it will go upon initial operation, then adjust up as necessary.
In most vehicles, when windshield defrost is selected, the A/C compressor is automatically activated. This helps provide air that is more dehumidified to the windshield, which will de-fog it faster and keep it that way. Some systems don’t work this way, but have a separate switch that will turn the compressor on. If your car is so equipped, don’t forget to switch the A/C on to achieve quicker de-fog.
A common customer complaint concerning A/C systems is that they sometimes produce odors. These odors have been described as smelling like anything from dirty socks to gym lockers. Operating the system in the “OUTSIDE” air mode (not “REC”) as often as possible can sometimes help prevent or lessen this condition.
If your car is equipped with one, make sure you change your cabin air filter at least as often as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that cabin air filters be changed at least every year or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some specify even stricter change intervals. Check your owner’s manual to find out how often your cabin air filter should be changed. A dirtv cabin air filter can reduce system airflow; if neglected, and allowed to become completely clogged, airflow may stop entirely.