Click Here to Book a Service

Car Air Conditioning FAQ’s

Car Air Conditioning FAQ’s discussed by AP Autocare Bristol

Most vehicles today have air conditioning and being without it in the summer can be a real inconvenience as we have now all come to rely on it and it also de-mists your windscreen in the winter on those frosty cold mornings.

Maintaining and servicing your air conditioning in your vehicle is a must to keep it working in good condition, however, most of us don’t do it as it’s not a must do on your vehicle and isn’t a safety aspect of driving your car. If you don’t maintain your air conditioning in your vehicle then it can break down and can cost you more to get it fixed.

Car air conditioning systems require regular maintenance and servicing to ensure they are safe and working efficiently. Some car warranties which cover air conditioning units will only remain valid if you have it regularly serviced by a recognised garage so always check this.

How does air-conditioning in your car work?

There are 5 integral parts in your car's air-conditioning system:

  • Refrigerant (the gas)
  • Compressor (which contains the refrigerant)
  • Condenser
  • Receiver
  • Thermal expansion valve
  • Evaporation coils

When the air-conditioning is turned on the gas (refrigerant)passes into the condenser and fresh air passes over the condenser which results in the gas dropping the temperature and becoming a liquid.

The liquid passes through a receiver which removes lots of impurities and then it reaches a thermal expansion valve. The thermal expansion valve allows you to control the temperature of your air con by adjusting the flow of the liquid. The liquid is subsequently turned into a vapour as it passes through the evaporation coils and it is blown into the car as air temperature you have chosen. AT this point the refrigerant has turned into a gas again and passes back into the compressor ready to start again.

What does an Air Conditioning service from a garage do?

Bacteria builds up in your air conditioning system over time and it can start to cause unpleasant smells and odours to circulate the vehicle. The cleaning process which garages use is where a special anti-bacterial solution is used to remove the bacteria which has built up. It’s a professional ‘deep clean’ of the system which removes 99% of the bacteria build-up.

What are the benefits of getting my air conditioning system being cleaned and recharged?

There are lots of benefits to getting your air conditioning system cleaned and recharged including:

  • You won’t have bad smells or odours leaving your air conditioning system and after a clean and service it will pump out fresh air into your car
  • The bacteria build-up will result in poor quality air being circulated in your car, having it cleaned will ensure good quality air which benefits anyone with allergies or breathing difficulties
  • Makes your time in your car more comfortable, cool in the summer and warm in the winter
  • Enables you to demist your car in the colder months quickly and efficiently
  • Your cars fuel efficiency will improve as your air conditioning system won’t have to work so hard to give you the temperature you’ve set it at

Why is it important to have your Air Conditioning system in your car cleaned and serviced?

Ignoring the fact that bacteria will build up in your air-conditioning system and not having it cleaned regularly will potentially harm anyone who suffers from allergies or has any breathing difficulties.

In an article by RAC Motoring services on Hay fever a "hazard for motorists" they state "But if you’ve got a car with air conditioning and suffer from an allergy to pollen, you could be in luck. A properly maintained air-con system is an effective defence for hay fever sufferers, as built-in pollen filters create a fortified barrier against organic spores"

What is the purpose of Car Air Conditioning?

The main purpose of car air conditioning is to keep your car at a comfortable temperature level for you throughout the year whether it’s hot or cold outside. The other benefits include improving the air quality in your car which can help anyone who suffers from allergies or has breathing problems.

How often do you use the Air Conditioning in your car?

Most people use the air conditioning system in their car every day as it isn’t just about making your car cool in the summer and warm in the winter it’s about setting the temperature at a comfortable level for you and the people in your car.

How do you look after your air conditioning in your vehicle?

You should look after the air conditioning in your car by having it cleaned and serviced every 2 years or whatever the warranty of your car tells you to. If you don’t always have the air conditioning on in your car or you don’t drive every day then turn it on every couple of days and give it a blast to keep its working components clear and working.

How often does my car's air-conditioning need re-gassing?

Generally, your car's air-conditioning will need to be re-gassed every two years but this really can depend on how much you use your car and how often you have the air conditioning on. In the UK, the average time for your air conditioning to be re-gassed is every 2-3 years as we don’t have such a warm climate as other places in the world.

Is your air conditioning serviced when your car is serviced?

You will need to check with the garage that is servicing your car, however, it isn’t normally included as part of your annual car service and would be a separate service that they offer.

How long does it take to re-gas my car's Air Conditioning?

It usually takes anything from around 45-60 minutes to complete a re-gas on your car's air-conditioning system if that is all that is needed.

How can I improve my air conditioner’s energy efficiency?

Book your car into your local garage for a service on your air conditioning system. They will clean its system, coils, pipework and check its gas levels.

What is done during a car air conditioner service?

A typical air conditioner service can include:

  • Air vent temperature evaluation
  • Condenser temperature inspection
  • Suction line temperature inspection
  • Drive belt and pulley adjusted
  • Check that valves and thermostats are operating correctly
  • Condenser fins cleaned
  • Inspect condition of components and hoses
  • Evacuation and recharge of refrigerant (where required)
  • Use an electronic leak detector to evaluate system lines and components for leaks

Always check with your garage what their air conditioning service includes before you book it in.

Is an Air Conditioning check included as part of my annual MOT?

No, your annual MOT ensures the vehicle is safe to drive as per the DVSA guidelines. Air conditioning is considered a ‘nice-to-have’ and isn’t critical to the safe running of your car so it is not checked as part of your MOT.

How long will my air conditioning system last in my car?

If you look after your air conditioning in your car and get it serviced every 1-2 years it can last anything from 15–18 years. It will also depend on how much you use the vehicle and air conditioning.

Can I re-charge, re-gas my air-conditioning at home myself?

The answer to this is simply no, a mandatory qualification is required for servicing air-conditioning on a car and this is due to the potential hazards involved with the refrigerant, which needs disposing of properly. Strict guidelines and procedures must be adhered to when handling certain refrigerants, which must always be fully recovered and not allowed to escape into the atmosphere during servicing.

Refrigerant can pose serious health risks if handled incorrectly. Specialist equipment is required as the air conditioning system is under extreme pressure and must be pulled into a deep vacuum to remove any moisture, to avoid seriously damaging the system so always use a professional garage for this type of service.

What should you do if your air conditioning stops working?

Call your trusted local garage and ask them when they can book it in to be looked at.

What are the signs that you may have problems with your air conditioning in your car?

  • Blowing hot air when on a cold setting
  • Bad odours or smells coming from your car vents
  • Loud and noisy when it’s on

Why do I need to have my car’s Air Conditioning system serviced?

Your cars air conditioning system should be checked for any issues every 1-2 years. A service will tell you if you have any signs of problems with the connections, hoses and seals to and this will ensure the right amount of refrigerant is being used over time. It will check the levels of the refrigerant to ensure the system doesn’t need to work as hard and this protects the system from operating damage as well as lowering your fuel consumption.

What is the source of the bad smell coming from my car air conditioning?

The moist environment in an air conditioning system supports the development of microbes, bacteria as well as fungus growth inside the core of the system which leads to nasty smells and odours as well as poor quality airflow.

Should your car’s Air conditioning be on all the time?

Its recommended that you run your car's air conditioning system for ten minutes every couple of weeks and this allows for the coolant to move around the system and the clears the pipes and filters through.

Why does the fuse keep blowing on my air conditioning?

It could be due to a few things and your garage will be able to quickly identify why and resolve it for you. It could be there is a problem with the compressor or circuit breaker and your garage will know what needs to be checked.

My car’s air conditioning is running but the airflow has reduced a lot, why is this?

This could be due to several things, the filters need to be changed, it needs to be cleaned or the refrigerant/gas needs to be refilled.

AP Autocare (Bristol) Air Conditioning Services

We are vehicle air conditioning specialists in the Bristol area and are licensed to handle R1234a and R1234yf refrigerants. If your car needs an Air Conditioning service or repair then we can help. Our professional fully qualified technicians are trained and registered to handle refrigerants and will get your vehicle back on the road promptly after determining if a repair or recharge is required.

Our team of technicians will check to see what parts may have failed and we will report on pipes, hoses, condensers, compressors and drive belt systems. We have the latest of equipment to allow us to create an ozone system in the vehicle to eliminate odour producing bacteria and leave your cars air conditioning smelling fragrant and fresh.

Recharging the refrigerant in your air-conditioning system regularly will reduce the chances of anything going wrong. Low refrigerant is the most common reason it stops working and it is easy to fix. It can be expensive if you leave it and you may need to pay for new parts and repairs later down the line. If the system runs out of gas it will start to blow hot air which is not effective in keeping your vehicle at the temperature you have set it at. The refrigerant is extremely cold so stops the compressor from getting dangerously hot and failing. Having a full tank of the refrigerant increases fuel efficiency because less energy is needed to produce cold air.

We recommend an air conditioning service every two years to recharge the refrigerant and check for any issues which may need repairing.

Common air-conditioning areas we regularly deal with include:

  • Repairs to R1234a and R1234yf systems
  • Hot air blowing from Air conditioning system
  • Bad odours from air vents
  • Broken pipes
  • Leaking condensers and evaporators
  • Faulty compressors or compressor clutch pulleys
  • Diagnostics for faulty AC control modules or air quality sensors

We offer 12-month parts and labour guarantee on any work we carry out on your air conditioning system

About AP Autocare

We have been in operation for over 40 years and is an independent, professional, established and trustworthy garage in Bristol who offers a range of comprehensive car and vehicle services.

We are within walking distance of Bristol City Centre and Temple Meads Train Station and are ideal if you work within the city or need a train home.

We have a courtesy car facility if you can’t be without your car whilst it’s with us and we can also offer you a lift to work or home or collect you when your car is ready to ensure that being without a car for any period is not an inconvenience for you.

We are honest and trustworthy and our services are always friendly and professional at competitive rates, without the costs associated with manufacturer main dealers.

We offer services for all vehicles of any age and size from small cars to light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes (Class 7).

Our Services include:

  • Air Conditioning Service & Repair
  • Annual and Interim Services
  • MOT’s
  • Diagnostics
  • Tyres & Exhausts
  • Brakes
  • Clutches
  • Remapping
  • Bodywork & Paint Repairs

We are a specialist and recognised garage for most main car manufacturers including; BMW, Citroen, Peugeot, Mini, Porsche, Audi, VW, Seat, Skoda and Land Rover specialists with dealer level diagnostic equipment, which will save you up to 30% on main dealer prices.

If you are looking for an Air Conditioning Service or Repair or any other car or vehicle service please contact us today on 0117 911 3531 and one of our experts will be able to answer any questions you may have or arrange an appointment for you.

Published: Wednesday 8th April 2020