Mason Shields, June 19 2018

Tips to maximize A/C efficiency

Its that time of year again.  It's hot outside, and it's really hot inside your car.  Here are some tips to help you’re A/C work better.

Park in Shade

It may sound insignificant, but one way to start to minimize the AC’s work is by parking in a shaded spot if you’ll be away from your car for the entire afternoon. No matter how hot it gets throughout the day, the shade will at least help lower the temperature inside your vehicle for when you get back.

Use window shades

When you park your car, cover all the windows with screens, especially the windscreen with a reflective screen. These stick-on screens can be bought at any car accessory shop and are not expensive. Avoid the cheap net screens, as they don’t cut out heat. Using these shades will ensure that your car’s interior stays cooler longer. Or if you can then park the car in the shade. Parking your car in the shade is one way of making sure the car stays cool longer.

Use sun visors

Rain guards or sun visors are acrylic or aluminum strips that fit over the car's windows and provide a kind of small awning over the windows. In rainy weather, this allows you to open the windows just a little to provide some ventilation to the car’s interior. However, you can also use this to good measure in summer. When you park the car, open all the windows by about 1 cm. The opening will anyway stay hidden under the visor so that it won’t be a security threat. But at the same time, it will allow hot air that is building up inside the car to escape through this gap.

Roll the Windows Down

Another way to help your car cool down quickly without going straight to the air conditioning is by rolling all four windows down and driving for a little bit, usually you don’t need to go faster than 10 or maybe 15 miles per hour which will allow fresh air to enter the vehicle while forcing the hot, stagnant air out.

Start with a Low Setting

Immediately cranking the air conditioning to a high level will lead to faster wear and tear and can lead to overheating as more energy than usually is needed to rapidly cool without any warming up. When you first turn the air on, start with a lower setting and let it warm up a little bit before turning it up higher if the weather outside is unbearable.

Recirculate the Air in the Car

Using the recirculation option with your air conditioning will make sure that the hot air from the outside isn’t being pulled into the car while the air conditioning is running and trying to cool the interior. With the interior cooling down, the air conditioning won’t have to work as hard to continue cooling.

Don’t Immediately Shut off the Air

Possibly one of the most common improper treatments of the air conditioning is turning your vehicle off immediately upon arriving at your destination without turning the air conditioning off first. Once you turn the air off, leave the fan on at an intermediate speed to work to dry out the AC’s evaporator. It will be near ice cold and can cause condensation which may lead to a puddle of water forming under your vehicle, so by leaving the fan running, it will reduce the moisture and condensation that builds up and will prevent moss and bacteria from building up on the evaporator and other parts.

Make Sure Your Filter's Clean

Next time you get the chance, check your cabin air filter to make sure it’s clean. A dirty filter prevents optimal airflow. In newer cars, these filters are relatively easy to check on; if you see a lot of dirt accumulated on it, it's time to change it. You can save money if you can replace the filter yourself—in many modern cars the filter is accessible behind the glove compartment. But that's not always the case. In some vehicles, such as the first-generation Honda Pilot, the entire dash must be removed to get at the cabin air filter, and that's not a job for the faint of heart.

Written by

Mason Shields

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