With summer temperatures heating up most drivers are looking for ways to cool down.
That means putting your faith in your vehicle’s air conditioning system, and if it hasn’t been properly serviced you may be disappointed to discover the system isn’t working at the exact moment you need it most.
Preventative maintenance of your vehicle’s air conditioning prior to the busy summer season is always a smart idea, but it may mean more than just topping up the coolant. In fact, there are multiple factors that can contribute to an air conditioning system that’s not working efficiently.
“Most cars now, maybe 80 percent of cars built in the last five years, have what’s called cabin air filters in them,” said Vince Klimkosz, owner of the two locations of Vinnie’s Mr. Fix-it.
"They’re almost Hepa-style high quality filters and they’re very good at capturing a lot of the pollutants in the cabin. They’re one of the things most often overlooked when your car is serviced because you’re not thinking about them. It’s not sticking out at you.”
Klimkosz said the only way to know the filters are not really working properly is to turn on your air conditioning to see if it’s blowing as much as it should.
“If you’re not getting the cooling you’d expect from it, you might have a filter problem,” he said. “You’d be surprised the number of filters we pull out of cars that are only one or two years old and they’re plugged solid. The debris is just awful.”
Proper maintenance of the air conditioning system would mean changing the filter once a year or, at the very least, once every 20,000 kilometres.
The filters can make a huge difference in the cold air you’re breathing; some of them contain baking soda or activated charcoal to reduce odours and purify the air.
“If you have breathing difficulties, it’s a good option to install a fresh cabin filter in the car,” said Klimkosz. “It makes your heater and your air conditioner work a lot more efficiently, providing proper heat and proper cooling. It’s a win win and definitely something to stay on top of.”
Another major external cause of air conditioning system problems is debris that often finds its way into areas of the vehicle that contribute to proper air flow. If your vehicle is often parked under a tree leaves and other debris can build up. Eventually such materials can start to rot and seep into your air ducts causing odours and other issues. Water seeping into the cabin is another sign your air conditioning system may require service.
“If you’re getting water inside the vehicle, often times it’s the result of a plugged drain tube in the air conditioner,” said Klimkosz. “It could also be plugged by spider webs. We’ve seen that a few times and it can result in water on the floor of your interior.”
Of course, air conditioners are only as good as the refrigerant in the system.
With air conditioning season in full swing, it’s always a good idea to get a road trip inspection and have technicians check the quality of coolant, the vent temperature, and the functionality of the vehicle’s cooling fans. Even if they’re all working, people who love to stay cool should know that vehicle air conditioners do have performance limits.
“Air conditioning can typically make a 20 degree difference in the interior cabin temperature. If it’s 90 degrees outside, your air conditioning should be able to take your temperature down to around 70. It’s just the limits of the refrigerant. It’s a gas and can only do so much. If your refrigerant is low in its charge it won’t cool as well. Putting your vehicle in recirculation mode can also help keep it cool and help your system work better, especially on a humid day.
Don’t wait until your system breaks down. Book your air conditioning service today. Visit Vinnie’s Mr. Fix-It online. Or drop by either of their two Guelph locations: 30 Hayes Avenue, or 41 Woodlawn Road West.