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Donít Take the Heat: How to Maintain Your Carís Cooling System

 

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ou might think that setting the air conditioning or heating system would be a simple procedure, but you'd be amazed at how many cars are taken in for repairs, just because the car owners didn't have the A/C system set properly. Obviously, one of the first places to look for this information is in your owner's manual. However, there are a few tips you should be aware of that will help you get the most out of your car's A/C system. 

Adjusting the System for Optimum Performance

First, remember that warm air rises and cold air sinks. That means in most cases you'll want to use the floor vents for the heat. In the warm weather you should use the panel vents for the A/C, and you should adjust them to aim slightly upward. That way the air will circulate better and cool the passenger compartment more quickly. 

Once the temperature in the passenger compartment becomes comfortable, donít shut the system off because you'll only have to turn it back in a few minutes. Instead, adjust the temperature slightly and lower the fan speed. Thatíll keep it comfortable inside. 

To defrost or defog your windows in the winter, the defroster is a good choice. Consider that windows can become fogged on damp summer days, too. On those days, switch to the A/C, set to normal. The A/C system dries the air coming in, it and will circulate it better than the defroster. 

Don't switch to the maximum setting on the A/C to defog your windows.  That setting re-circulates the air in the passenger compartment so cool, dry air may not reach all the way to the windows. The normal setting works better. On really hot days, you may want to use the max A/C setting, On most cars max A/C shuts off any coolant flow through the heater core and recycles the air in the passenger compartment instead of trying to cool and dehumidify the outside air. However, don't leave it on max too long. Eventually, the air inside will become stuffy and can affect your concentration. Once the system has taken the edge off the heat, switch to normal.

 

Air Conditioning System Maintenance

Your car's air conditioning is the one system that probably doesn't require a lot of regular maintenance. In general, if the system's working, itís OK. If not, it needs to be checked and repaired. 

Below are a few simple checks you can perform to keep the A/C working properly, or determine whether it needs to be serviced:         

 

Check the Condenser ó That's the large heat exchanger in the front a your car, just forward of the radiator. Look at it and make sure thereís no dirt or debris blocking air flow through it. Remove any litter that's attached itself to the condenser and use a garden hose to wash away any dirt or bugs.

 

Check the Belt ó With the engine off, check the compressor belt for wear and make sure itís tight. If it's too loose or damaged, have it tightened or replaced before the summer gets into full swing.

 

Check the Operation ó Start the engine and try the A/C on the first warm day.

ē Do you hear any strange noises?

ē If your car has an electric cooling fan, does it start when you turn on the A/C? (It should on most cars.)

ē Is cold air coming out of the vents?

ē Try the controls: Does the air come out of the correct vents?

 

If everything seems OK, your air conditioning probably will work fine or the season. But if you notice a problem during any of these checks, take your car in to have the system checked and repaired. 

Finally, check the air filter. Some of today's cars have an air filter to filter the air coming into the passenger compartment. It may be called a pollen filter, a particulate filter or a micron filter. Whatever it's called, if your car has one, you should check it and replace it if it's dirty. If you re not sure if your car has an A/C system air filter, check your owner's manual. It'll tell you whether it has one, where to find it and how to check it. Donít wait until summer to get youíre A/C fixedÖdo it now while itís still cool enough!

 

 

 

Also see

Your Car's Mechanical Condition

Car Battery Facts -everything you ever wanted to know about your car battery.

Manual vs. Automatic Transmission:Which is Better? -tips for deciding on the type of transmission

7 Easy Steps to Make Your Clutch Last Longer -some of these may surprise you.

What is a Differential? -During a turn, the outer wheels drive farther than the inner wheels, and this is an important function of the differential.  

 

This webpage is brought to you for general information purposes only and there are no warranties as to accuracy, completeness, or results obtained from any information posted on this or any linked website.


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