Fuel con­sump­tion

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Air-Conditioning Repairs -

Re­fus­ing to ac­ti­vate air-con­di­tion­ing for fear of in­creas­ing fuel con­sump­tion tends to be a false econ­omy. Early sys­tems were es­pe­cially pow­er­hun­gry and could in­crease fuel use by up to 10%. While car man­u­fac­tur­ers and their sup­pli­ers have im­proved air-con­di­tion­ing ef­fi­ciency, in­ex­pen­sive small cars with low-pow­ered en­gines re­main the most af­fected. How­ever, more ex­pen­sive, larg­erengined ve­hi­cles, es­pe­cially those equipped with cli­mate con­trol, are fit­ted usu­ally with vari­able dis­place­ment com­pres­sors, many of which run con­tin­u­ally (al­though some types are fit­ted with clutches) that vary power use with de­mand via an in­ter­nal so­le­noid that acts upon a swash plate. On long jour­neys, es­pe­cially those that in­volve high speeds, the air-con­di­tion­ing el­e­ment of the HVAC sys­tem should have a neg­li­gi­ble im­pact on fuel use and en­gine power. In any case, not us­ing the air­con­di­tion­ing sys­tem at least once a fort­night risks gas es­cap­ing, which ex­its via shrink­ing in­ter­nal rub­ber seals that dry-out as a re­sult of not be­ing lu­bri­cated by a work­ing sys­tem. Long pe­ri­ods of in­ac­tiv­ity can also dam­age the com­pres­sor, with sub­se­quent re­pair bills eclips­ing the fuel saved.

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