Summer is here! This is the time when we will use up some of our days to plan trips to the beach as we spend some time with the sun, sand and refreshing cool water to soothe our skins. While that may be very tempting, it is nearly impossible to spend all of our summer time in the comfort of a little resort getaway. Most of us have to deal with the sun in our urban playground, confined in our cars as we jet from one destination to the next.
Our cars are subject to disasters such as overheating. Unless resting under a cool shade, it is exposed to blistering heat. And the initial appropriate course of action is to blast our air conditioners to the maximum so that we don’t sweat it out in our mobile saunas. While this is the natural and instinctive reaction (and indeed most air conditioners would be able to work in this manner), we have to be wise when it comes to maintaining of our cooling units. Would you rather deal with the dreaded heat when it breaks down?
Let me first explain the basics of how an air conditioner works. (Worry not; it is fairly easy to understand). Essentially, the whole system works by taking in the hot air from the passenger compartment and blows in cold air with the help of a refrigerant which you experience the cool summer breeze. (See! I told you it was simple.) Now comes the more complicated part: How do you maintain your air conditioning unit?
Well, this works like any cooling unit you may have in your office or home. There are simple steps that can be taken to make sure that it works properly.
- First, make sure to use the blower for a few minutes before turning on your A/C. This helps release whatever moisture is in your unit and reduces the cabin temperature by a couple of degrees, which makes your air conditioning unit work less in cooling the air. Also, this serves as a little warm up and does not jump start your air conditioning unit into full force, which could damage or reduce the performance of your unit. Extra precaution is achieved if you first open up your window for a couple of minutes to release hot air in your cabin. Opening your window also releases toxins that have built up during the heating of car plastic. A healthier and more comfortable driving experience by simply leaving your window open for a few minutes? Heck yeah!
- Turn up your thermostat slowly. If you have a knob thermostat, then you can start off on the 1st or 2nd click and work your way up every few minutes until you reach your desired temperature. If you have a digital thermostat you can adjust it on 5-degree reductions based on the outside temperature.
- Use your air conditioner during all seasons, even during the cold ones. Cooling units always have some vapor which will turn to moisture in the system. Using your air conditioning system makes sure that these vapors and moistures are recycled and not stored in the pipes. Additionally, the continuous movement reduces pressure in the pipes which, if left unchecked, could cause leakage. Don’t immediately worry if you see some moisture on the floor of your compartment. These are most likely cold vapors that have liquefied.
- Make sure to service your air conditioning unit at least once a year. This will ensure that all parts are working fine. Everything needs to be checked and cleaned out. Since dust accumulates easily, that needs to be removed along with moisture. If you smell something funny apart from your sweaty gym shirt, then that means you might have a leak. Your refrigerant may slowly be dripping away (no refrigerant means no cooling goodness). It is important to recharge your unit with a refrigerant every time you check up. Don’t forget to tell your technician to check your air conditioning unit, because some tend to ignore this. If your car is fairly old, it is advisable to determine if you are using an R-12 or R-134. An R-134 is recommended for it is safe for the environment. (If we can help reduce global warming, our air conditioning units don’t have to work so hard).
- Furthermore, you may want to invest in some window shades or high quality tint. As mentioned, the amount of work your cooling units have to perform is really determined by how hot the air is inside the cabin. Reducing this by blocking heat would make your air conditioner works faster and more efficiently.
Follow these tips, and I am certain you will be able to have a cool and relaxing time in your car on the way to your next destination.