Get the Most Out of Your Car Air Conditioner

As the temperatures soar, we expect our car air-conditioner to keep up with the increased demand. Often motorists are disappointed with the volume or temperature of the discharged air. Discover how to decrease the length of time it takes to make the interior cabin comfortable for you and your passengers.

How Long Should it Take to Cool

The automotive air-conditioning system removes heat from inside the passenger compartment. The higher the temperature inside the car, the longer it will take for the air conditioner to complete its mission. Therefore, if we can reduce the peak temperature we’ll reach the desired level of comfort in less time. In the summer, interior temperatures can reach 120 degrees. If you live in Phoenix, Arizona they can exceed 145 degrees in the direct sun. Under these conditions, it can feel like the AC is blowing warm air for 3 to 5 minutes after engaging the compressor.

Reduce the Interior Temperature

Parking out of the direct sun can reduce the temperature inside the car by 20 degrees or more. Although, carport or garage storage is the perfect scenario it’s not always an option. When possible, parking under a tree helps lower cabin temperatures. This can be worth it even if it means a slightly longer walk to your destination. If shade is unavailable, use a reflective windshield sunshade. Darkening or reflective side window film in states that allow window tinting can be helpful as well. Aftermarket suction cup style retractable side and rear window sunshades are also available.

Utilize the Max Air Feature

Using the max air feature is important in reducing the amount of time it takes to cool the inside of the car. This function pulls the hot cabin air across the evaporator core instead of using fresh air from outside of the vehicle. Re-cooling the air inside will accelerate the process. Although this sounds like common sense, many people either forget or aren’t aware of how the recirculation or max air setting works.

Car companies use the outside ventilation mode as the default setting. If you do remember to select recirculation, when you turn the car off the air-conditioning system automatically reverts to the default setting. Keep in mind that using recirculation for long periods of time can cause the air inside the vehicle to become overly dry and stuffy. To prevent this from happening, after the interior cabin is cool, turn off the maximum function.

Avoid Bi-level Settings

Selecting which vents the cool air is discharged from is also important in how long it takes to reduce the temperature inside. As we learned in science class, cold air sinks and hot air rises. If we discharged the air from the dash vents only and point them up towards our face the cold air will reach the top of the interior compartment and sink to the floor cooling along the way.

If drivers select the floor vents or bi-level modes cold air exits at the floor and just stays there. If you use this setting it will take longer for the human body to perceive the interior compartment is cooling off. Another problem with the bi-level setting is it divides the total air between all of the vents. This can reduce the volume of flow from the most important outlets.

Close Unused Vents and Reduce Blower Speed

When air is pulled through the evaporator the speed at which it’s traveling is directly related to how cold it gets. When mechanics are looking for a discharge temperature reading they close all of the vents except the center outlet and select a low blower setting. This delivers the coldest air the system is capable of producing. When air travels slowly through the evaporator it has a longer period of time to have heat removed.

Therefore, if you’re driving by yourself in an automobile with single zone operation you can close the passenger side and rear compartment vents. Next, reduce the blower speed to the lowest comfortable setting and enjoy the coolest air possible, blown directly at you, the only passenger in the vehicle. View this next article if you have dual zone climate control problems to see how this system works.