Maintenance Monday: Get the Most out of Your Car’s A/C


Maintenance Monday

Summer is upon us and those triple digit days are right around the corner. Is your car’s air conditioner ready? Here are some simple things that I suggest you do to get the most out of your A/C system:

My A/C was recently serviced but still doesn’t seem cold enough.

If your car’s A/C system has been recently serviced but still doesn’t seem cold enough, you can maximize its efficiency by following these easy steps. If you are traveling in a low humidity or dry climate such as Arizona, use your car’s “Fresh Air” setting. This brings in the outside air and allows the A/C system to cool the hot, dry air more efficiently. If you are traveling in a humid area, set your air conditioner to “Recirculate”. This will eliminate the use of the high-moisture outside air, making it easier for the A/C system to cool off the air and keeping you nice and comfortable.

Why isn’t my air conditioner blowing cold anymore?

It’s probably due to a lack of regular maintenance. Just like everything else in your car, like the brakes, hoses, and tires, the A/C system also requires routine service. The condition and level of the refrigerant is the leading factor in determining your A/C’s ability to cool. As the A/C refrigerant deteriorates or leaks, the system is less efficient at turning the liquid into a gas. This transition makes the gas cold. If you suspect your A/C system is low on refrigerant, most automotive repair shops have the ability to recharge the system. This service will usually cost less than 200 dollars, but can save you thousands of dollars in the long run as systems running low on refrigerant can damage very costly components within the A/C system itself.

One trick in determining if your A/C system is low on refrigerant is to start your vehicle, put the A/C on “High” and listen for the compressor clutch to come on. The compressor clutch will make one loud click sound as it engages. It should stay on steady. If the compressor clutch is cycling or clicking every few seconds, your system is low on charge and should be serviced.

If your air conditioning system was found to be low on refrigerant, make sure the repair shop puts a tracer dye in the system when they perform the recharge. This will ensure an accurate diagnostic of any potential leak if the system begins to deteriorate. Leaks in the system are almost impossible to locate without this tracer dye, and guessing can get expensive fast. The typical interval for most vehicles to have the A/C serviced is every 4 to 5 years. If you keep it serviced, your A/C will provide you with a consistently cool performance for many years ahead.

If you thought these tips were helpful, make sure to sign up for the Metromile Monthly Newsletter so you don’t miss any upcoming Maintenance Monday advice. Stay cool out there!