Make the best of your car's air-con
With the hot summer weather approaching, many motorists will be taking full advantage of their car’s air-conditioning system. Whether they will be using it correctly, though, is another matter.
At least, so says Spanish car manufacturer Seat. The company has provided some tips on how to make sure an air-conditioning system is operating at its most effective.
Seat’s own research shows that an in-car temperature of 35°C (not implausible as a car parked in the sun for a long period can reach 60°C inside) can reduce driver reaction times by 20%, compared to a temperature 10°C lower.
One might well question whether anybody would actually try to drive in a car that was 35°C inside without at least opening the window, but Seat’s tips on how to make the best use of an air-conditioning system are useful.
One common mistake made by drivers is to switch the air-con on full blast the moment they get into the car. Motorists should rather first open the doors and windows for a couple of minutes to allow the hot air to escape and cooler air to enter the car. Skipping this step means the air-conditioning system will only recirculate a lot of hot air at first.
Another tip is to avoid pointing the air vents directly towards you. This stops air from being evenly distributed around the car.
“It isn’t a matter of temperature, but in which direction the air is flowing inside the car,” says Ángel Suárez of Seat’s technical centre. “The nozzles should be pointing upwards, not towards peoples’ faces. Then the air flows all around the interior of the car and reaches every passenger.” If a car has climate control rather than a more basic air-conditioning system, Seat also recommends using the “Auto” setting.
This controls the fan speed and whether air is re-circulated in the cabin or drawn from outside, helping to cool the car more quickly and minimising fogging.
In addition to the above, it is good practice to use a car’s air-conditioning on a regular basis, even throughout the winter. This helps to ensure long-term reliability.
Regular maintenance such as replacing filters in time will keep it operating at its maximum efficiency.
Be aware that over time dirt and bacteria can build up in an air-conditioning system, particularly one that is rarely used. If there’s a strange odour when the air-conditioning is running, it is important to have the system checked and cleaned by a specialist.