Common Questions About Vehicle Air Conditioning

Your vehicle’s air conditioning system is often one of the things you take for granted and assume should just work correctly. Driving in the Australian climate without a functioning air conditioner, particularly in summer, is likely to become unbearable. The air conditioning system in your vehicle is a relatively complex set up, and as such there are a range of questions drivers have regarding its operation, maintenance requirements and how to maximise its efficiency. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common questions we’re asked about automotive air conditioning.

Why Is My Car Air Conditioner Not Cold?

One of the most common issues Australian drivers face with their vehicle’s air conditioner is the system blowing hot or warm air rather than cold. There are a range of potential causes for this issue, including:

  • Failed compressor or compressor clutch
  • Clogged air conditioning system
  • Damaged or failed condenser or evaporator leaks
  • Failed switch, fuse, relay, control module, blend door or solenoid
  • Air conditioning gas leak usually caused by accident damage or impact damage to the condenser and other components

If your vehicle’s air conditioning system develops a leak, you have what is known as an ‘open system.’ Not only will this impact your systems cold air, but can result in damage to vital components. It is normal and common for vehicles to leak a small amount of gas – for example, BMW vehicles are allowed to leak up to 10% of their gas volume annually.

Is Servicing My Car Air Conditioning Necessary?

Just like other components of your car, your air conditioner is a complex system requiring ongoing maintenance to ensure it operates efficiently. As a minimum, it is recommended you get your air-con re-gassed every one to two years to top up the refrigerant in the system. A re-gas is a relatively quick and simple procedure.

Air conditioning is not usually included in your car’s general service, so it is a good idea to book in for a specialised air conditioner service when you are due for a re-gas. Servicing helps to optimise efficiency, performance and maximise the lifespan of your vehicle’s system. Maintaining a service schedule for your air conditioner can result in a range of benefits, including:

Enhanced Cooling & Performance

Regular maintenance of your air conditioner system ensures it operates at an optimal efficiency level. Clean and well-maintained components, such as the receiver drier (which is only replaced with the compressor or condenser) and cabin air filters will ensure better airflow and a reduction in odours.

Improved Air Quality

A well kept air conditioner helps to filter pollutants, airborne particles and allergens from the air in the cabin of the vehicle. Replacing the cabin air filters regularly assists in preventing dust and contaminants from being circulated throughout your car.

Prevention of Costly Repairs

Air conditioning systems that are neglected are far more likely to be subject to sudden breakdowns and expensive repairs. Routine maintenance allows minor issues to be identified and addressed before they escalate into major problems. Taking a proactive approach to air conditioning maintenance and attending to leaks, worn parts or refrigerant issues largely prevents the inconvenience and expense of system failure.

Is Car Air Conditioning Bad For You?

While your air conditioner is general not bad for you, it can have adverse effects on your health if not maintained correctly. The air pushed into your vehicle’s cabin may seem cool and fresh, but there can be a range of airborne particles from mould and bacteria within the aircon system which can have detrimental health effects.

Some common symptoms of prolonged exposure to a dirty car air conditioner include:

  • Irritation of the throat, eyes or nose
  • Dry skin and eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory problems

Why Does My Car Air Conditioner Smell?

When there is a build up of bacteria and dirt in your car’s air conditioning system, musty odours can be emitted from your vents. If the system has not been used for extended periods of time (for example, over the winter), mould can grow in your air vents leading to a strong smell when the aircon is used for the first time.

There are a range of other potential sources for bad odours in your car, including:

  • Dirty Air Filters: Over time, the cabin air filters fill up with dirt and pollutants and require replacing.
  • A Fluid Leak: Your vehicle uses a range of fluids including oil and coolant to run effectively. If there is a leak in your engine somewhere and these fluids find their way into the vents, passages or heater box, you may be met with an unpleasant smell.
  • Mildew: Droplets of water can form on the evaporator core, creating a damp environment –a perfect breeding ground for mildew.

Does My Car’s Air Conditioner Use Petrol?

In short, yes your car’s air conditioner is using fuel – however it doesn’t use as much as you’d think and in certain situations, it is actually more fuel efficient to use your aircon than it is to roll the windows down.

When travelling at lower speeds, switching on the system adds to the workload of the vehicle’s engine, increasing fuel consumption. When driving through built up areas or those with low speed limits, putting the windows down is more fuel efficient.

When driving at high speeds it is more fuel efficient to use your car’s aircon due to aerodynamic drag. When your windows are down, your vehicle’s engine has to work harder to maintain speed which in turn consumes more fuel.

Why Choose GMW For Your Vehicle AC Needs?

At GMW Perth, we offer great service on a wide range of automotive air conditioning issues, specialising in technologically advanced German vehicles. While we can perform regular maintenance on all makes and models of vehicle, we have invested in a modern workshop to suit the specialised air conditioning systems of luxury German cars. Our highly skilled technicians are equipped with the tools and knowledge to deliver exceptional air conditioning services for your German vehicle.

With competitively priced re-gassing services available, why not have your German vehicle’s system as cold as it can be? Using quality parts only, our service team will have your cabin icy cold again in no time. Get in touch today to book your next air conditioning service!