9 Ways to Take Care of Your AC System

Most drivers don't worry about their air conditioning unit until there is a problem with it. The fact is, while it is easy to overlook in your regular maintenance, especially if you don't use it year round, your car's air conditioning is essential for a comfortable drive.

So, rather than waiting until it's too late, take care of your vehicle's air conditioning system so it continues to work for you. 

LC Image - Beat the Summer Heat 9 Ways to Take Care of Your AC System
1. Change Your Air Filter Regularly

A dirty air filter doesn't just affect the air quality blowing into the cabin of the car. It lowers your fuel efficiency. In fact, when you install a clean air filter, you improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

While the general rule of thumb for changing the air filter is every 12,000 miles, that depends on the type of roads you frequent. For example, a car that is used to driving on a dirt road will clog up the air filter much faster than a vehicle that is used solely for highway driving.

It's also a good idea to change the air filter after winter. While this is also dependent on where you live, throughout the winter season the air filter tends to become clogged with larger debris, such as salt. Plus, if you plan to do a lot of summer driving (perhaps on a fun road trip), you will want to have a fresh filter to get you through your long travels ahead.

2. Protect the Outside in the Off Season

You obviously want the inside of your car to keep cool during the dog days of summer. So you might think that means you just have to worry about the inside or engine parts. However, how you treat the exterior of your car, especially while you aren't driving it, will affect the function of the air conditioning system.

Try to keep it parked in a garage, or under an awning or carport if possible. Not only can the heat lead to cosmetic damage, but it also makes it harder for your air conditioning system to cool off the inside of your vehicle. Working in overdrive may lead to more repairs.

There are also little things you can do that will make a big difference. An inexpensive sunshade can work wonders. Blocking the sun from shining into your windshield will reduce cracking and fading, and help you keep the inside of your car cooler.

Another way to protect the exterior is to regularly wax your car with UV polish. That way you can reduce the damage done by the bright light.

3. A Word on Fluids

Just as with other fluids in your engine, there might come a time when you need to replace or fill the refrigerant. If you notice that your car isn't quite blowing the cool air it used to, this may be a sign that you need your refrigerant replaced. However, most people overlook this because the car is still blowing air. If you let this go on for too long, though, it can cause more issues that often result in a higher repair bill.

It's best to take your vehicle in for an inspection to Mavis Tires and Brakes when you start to notice that the air conditioning isn't functioning as it once did. While you might be crafty at flushing or replacing fluids in other areas of your car maintenance routine, in this case you should bring your vehicle to your local Mavis to have it inspected. 

This is because the refrigerant or freon is a tricky substance that can cause potential harm to the environment and/or yourself. When it is time for your air conditioning system recharge, it is best to leave it to the qualified professionals. A recharge is generally done every two years or so.

4. Test Air Conditioning in Additional Vehicles

Simply start the engine and turn on the air conditioning in any additional vehicles you use. This is a precaution to take to ensure that all parts of the system are well lubricated and functioning as they should be. All it takes is several moments of running the air conditioning.

If you don't think it is performing as it should, it's a good idea to get the air conditioner system checked out. Also, don't forget to check the refrigerant level in these cars.

5. Yearly Service

It's a good idea to get your air conditioning  system serviced about once a year. That way, any leaks, low fluids, or other problems are detected and repaired before you are driving around without cold air during the tortuous temperatures in the summertime.

It's probably best to get your air conditioning service done before the summer season. Rely on your local Mavis Tires and Brakes to check the system for you. Although your technician  will explain what the service includes, you can generally expect the following:

  • Air vent temperature check

  • Recycling or replacement of your operating gas

  • Inspection of the hose and its surrounding parts

  • Inspection or replacement (if need be) of the air filter

  • The air conditioning  system will receive a leak test

  • Sanitization of the air conditioning system

  • Adjustment of drive belts

  • The operation of valves and thermostats

6. Start Slow

Today's convenience of having air conditioning in our vehicles has made it easy to cool down when you're on the go. However, that convenience has also made it so easy to use that some drivers don't think of how they're using their air conditioning unit.

The proper use of your air conditioning will enable the system to last longer, giving you the results that you need. Some people may have been taught to first drive a bit with all the windows down to push out the stifling air. This can help if you couldn't park in a shaded area, but isn't always necessary. It basically comes down to personal preference.

However, even though you may be tempted to crank up the air in the scorching heat, it's best if you start it out low. Just as you should avoid quick accelerations to preserve your vehicle, you'll want to start slowly to preserve your air conditioning system.

This way you aren't overworking the system as soon as you turn on your car. When you are gradually increasing the temperature and speed at which the air blows out of the vents, you are keeping the car's system in better shape for the long haul.

Oh, and do you want another little tidbit that will keep you cool and calm for the duration of your trip? Keep your recirculation mode on at all times. This prevents the air conditioning system from sucking in outside (hot) air, and then using it on the interior of your vehicle.

7. Keep Odors Out

Have you ever hopped into your car on a hot day and turned on the air conditioning, only to smell an unpleasant odor? While it might seem very strange at first, it really isn't all that uncommon. This is because when moisture is left in the air vents, it will begin to mildew. Chances are this is what is causing that unsavory smell.

There are two ways to prevent this from happening. One, you should always clean the air vents during your regular interior cleaning. This, along with a fresh air filter, will help minimize buildup and unpleasant smells.

The second way to prevent the moldy smell is to run your defrost mode before putting the air on full blast. Just running the defrost for five to ten minutes, when you first start the vehicle, will clean out the excess moisture and prevent mildew.

8. Know the Signs of a Worn Compressor

An air conditioning  compressor is the core of every vehicle's air conditioning system. If you want cool air to blow out of your vents, you need a functioning compressor. Since many other working parts of the system surround the compressor, you may not know right away when it begins to experience wear and tear.

When you are able to recognize the signs, you'll make repairs quicker, meaning you won't have to go long days without working air conditioning. If you notice any oil or freon leaks, hear a noise when using the air conditioning, or notice erratic operation of your air conditioning, it's time to have it inspected.

9. Air Conditioning Isn't Just for Summer

While we have come to rely on air conditioning in the summer heat, that doesn't mean we should forget all about it during the winter. In fact, using your air conditioning  in the winter will enable a fully functioning air conditioning system year round.

While its primary job is to cool you, it also removes humidity in the cabin. So, in order for clarity and the maximum visibility, use your air conditioning  to get rid of that pesky windshield fog. Plus, when you use the air conditioning all year round, it prevents it from overworking the system the first day summer hits.

In the heat of summer, rolling your windows down just doesn't cut it. Air conditioning helps improve passenger comfort, along with reducing driver fatigue. Not to mention, your air conditioning  is better to use, aerodynamically speaking, than the windows when you're on long distance trips. 

If you have experienced any of the above issues with your car's air conditioning unit, don't wait any longer to have it inspected and repaired. Besides the fact that waiting could create a large problem out of a small one, the days are only going to get longer and hotter, so you'll need the cool relief of air conditioning.

Mavis Tires and Brakes understands just how important your car's air conditioning is. Without the proper functioning of our air conditioning, it can impact your ability to enjoy the summer months when using your vehicle. From making sure you have clean, new filters to repairing a leak in your air conditioning system, we will cover all your automotive air conditioning needs. Schedule a service at your local Mavis to have our technicians take care of your air conditioning system.