car air conditioning

Everything you need to know about the car air conditioning

13 June 2022

Nowadays, the car air conditioning is almost a necessary equipment of every car – not only the passenger one. The heat of summer makes it unimaginable to travel without this facility. The air conditioning in the car is a solution which allows traveling with pleasure. What should you know about it?


How does the car air conditioning work?

The air conditioning system in the car consists of a few elements. Among them, there are:

  • air conditioning compressor,
  • condenser,
  • dryer,
  • expansion valve,
  • evaporator,
  • fan.

These parts allow getting lower temperature inside the car cabin. How does the cooling actually take place? The most important element of the air conditioning system in the car is the compressor. It’s responsible for increasing the pressure of the coolant, which, as a consequence, increases the temperature of the coolant. Its role is to also pump the coolant to the condenser – the element which is responsible for lowering the temperature of the coolant. In turn, the coolant is cooled not only by the air coming from the outside, but also by the fan, which is activated the moment the button of the air conditioning is pressed in the car cabin. It’s worth adding that the condenser also changes the state of matter of the coolant – from gas to liquid.

Among the mentioned elements of the air conditioning systems, there’s also .the dryer Thanks to it, any impurities and humidity are removed from the cool air. After it’s purified, the coolant reaches the expansion valve, where it again undergoes cooling and volume increase, and then it reaches the compressor.


How should the air conditioning system service look like?

All the wear part in the car might crash. It’s not surprising. However, if you want to minimise the risk of unexpected crashes, it’s worth having the air conditioning services regularly. In order for the system to work properly, not only the system should be checked regularly, but also the individuals of it too. The basis of the proper work of the air conditioning is regular refilling the coolant. It is estimated that during a year, provided the air conditioning system works properly, the coolant might decrease its volume even by 15%. At first, small drops in its level do not bring any negative results, however, with time, the car air conditioning might stop working properly, no cooling might occur, as well as an unpleasant smell. Experts recommend that the coolant be refilled at least once every 12 months.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the level of the coolant impacts the proper work of the air conditioning in terms of the temperature, as well as the performance of the individual elements. All the above mentioned components which impact the air cooling are lubricated with oil which is spread by means of the mentioned coolant. For this reason, when its level is too low, it might lead to damaging the components and locking up of the compressor. In such situation, repairing the air conditioning system might turn out to be incredibly costly.

When using the air conditioning in the car, it’s worth remembering that it is necessary to regularly check the tightness of the air conditioning system. In case of a leakage of the system, very frequent coolant refilling won’t bring the intended effects.

Replacing the cabin filter and cleaning the evaporator are also essential practices. Dust collects on these elements in huge amounts, and even if the air conditioning system works properly, it still get contaminated by fungi, which are harmful for human body. The most common symptom confirming the fungal contamination, and the necessity to replace the filter or cleaning the evaporator is the presence of an unpleasant smell. In such case, all that has to be done is pouring an active foam into the ventilation ducts, which effectively cleans the ventilation system and let’s you enjoy cool and clean air again.


What coolants are used in air conditioning system?

The car air conditioning is a tight system, in which coolant in gas state as well as mineral oil circulate. Among the available coolants, the following ones can be found:

  • R134a (1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane) – destined to be used in cars manufactured before 2017. It’s popular because it’s cheap, easily available and it works well. Unfortunately, it’s harmful to the atmosphere – its GWP index is 1430, whereas the value which is unharmful to the atmosphere is 1.
  • R1234yf (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene) – a new coolant, obligatorily used in cars manufactured since 2017 and sold withing the EU. This coolant is significantly more expensive than R134a, which significantly increases the cost of the air conditioning service. It is also concerned as controversial by many people, as it’s flammable and toxic. However, it’s not harmful to the environment – its GWP index is 4.


Most common failures in the car air conditioning system

As it has been mentioned before, the air conditioning system in the car consists of a few elements. All of its wear parts can crash. One of the most commonly occurring crashes is the compressor failure. When the system is filled with the coolant too late, the air conditioning works dry – without oil and the coolant. This way, the compressor cannot work and it breaks down.

Another common problem is the cooler failure. The problem results from the placement of the part – it turns out that even a small stone might damage it during the ride.

The problems with tightness are also quite common. These might occur in practically every element of the system – in the hoses, the compressor, the condenser, the evaporator and many others. When the issue with tightness is detected too late, it might lead to serious damage and the necessity of incurring high costs. For this reason, it’s worth checking regularly whether the coolant circulates in the system, and if not, look for the reason.


How to clean the air conditioning?

The basic step in cleaning the air conditioning is installing a new cabin filter. Experts recommend that it should be replaced at least once per year, although it’s also good to do so more often. It’s due to the fact that it creates ideal living conditions for both fungi and bacteria. Unfortunately, due to their presence, when the car cabin is heated or cooled, they spread into the cabin and negatively impact the health of the travelers. In most cars, the filter replacement can be done on your own – it’s placed inside the vehicle, and you don’t need any special tools to reach it.

When it comes to cleaning the system, there are various products available on the market. Many drivers decide to use the so-called spray which, after spraying it inside the car and turning on the system, it goes inside the system and effectively removes unpleasant smells. Unfortunately, this is the only way it can help – it does not resolve the problem with fungi and bacteria.

Another offer from the producers is the foam. It’s a fungicidal product available in a form of a spray, which, with the use of the attached hose, can be applied inside the air conditioning system, and left in there for some time. It effectively kills fungi and bacteria, although it hardly ever reaches all the corners of the entire system. It usually doesn’t clean the evaporator, which is in fact the main place where harmful fungi and bacteria accumulate.

An effective way to get rid of fungi and bacteria is the ozone treatment. To perform the treatment, the use of special equipment is needed, which already after several minutes lets you enjoy clean and healthy air.

To make sure that the air conditioning system is correctly freed from fungi, it’s a good idea to use the help of professionals. they dispose of not only appropriate equipment, but also products which allows getting rid of the microorganisms quickly, thoroughly and effectively.


When can you use the air conditioning?

The car air conditioning can be used both during summer as well as in winter. It’s a good way to lower the high temperature on hot days. Thanks to it, the inside of the car cools down quickly, and the passengers can peacefully travel, even for long distances. Many people, even though they can use the air conditioning, still prefer to put a window down. They explain it by stating that it consumes more fuel, and there’s some truth to it. When the air conditioning is on, the car consumes more fuel. It’s worth remembering, though, that when the windows are put down, the aerodynamics of the car change, and as a consequence, the car uses more fuel, as well.

A huge mistake, which many drivers commit, is not using the air conditioning during the winter. If it’s not used for too long, might lead to damaging parts of the cooling system. Not only can the corrosion of the friction elements of the compressor clutch occur, but also the separation of the coolant and oil. As a result, after a few months of not using the air conditioning, it might be necessary to service it before it can be used again.


How to use the car air conditioning in summer?

The proper usage of the car air conditioning impacts not only the quality of cooling, but also the health of the travelers. On hot days, the cooling should not be turned on right away. First, put all the windows down and drive for a few kilometers – this allows getting rid of the excess hot air. The direction of the blow is also important – it should be directed at the front windscreen and the feet in the first place. The closed loop should not be activated.


How to use the car air conditioning in winter?

In winter, it’s a good idea to turn on the air conditioning for several minutes at least once per week. This action allows taking care of the cooling system, and in addition, it dries the air of excess humidity. In effect, the driver takes car also of the upholstery condition, preventing it from growing fungi.


The impact of the usage of the the air conditioning on health

As it has been mentioned before, the air conditioning system creates great living conditions for fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. If during the usage of it you can smell an odour, it might have a negative impact on the health of the travelers. A regularly cleaned and ozone-treated air conditioning doesn’t pose a threat – the driver should remember that by taking care of it, they also take care of their and their passengers’ health.

In order to ensure that the air conditioning is not harmful, you should also take care of the proper temperature inside the vehicle. After driving for a short distance, the difference between the temperature outside and inside the car should not exceed 5 degrees Celsius. If the difference is bigger, the travelers might catch a cold.

The car air conditioning is also beneficial for people who suffer from negative effects of allergic reactions. It results from the fact that it purifies the air and limits the amount of pollen that enters the inside of the car.

Everything you need to know about the car air conditioning
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Everything you need to know about the car air conditioning
Nowadays, the car air conditioning is almost a necessary equipment of every car – not only the passenger one. What should you know about it?
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