You might be surprised to learn exactly how your auto air conditioning system works. While it’s commonly assumed that the AC generates cool air, that’s not quite the case. Actually, it blows hot air, with all the heat removed through a peculiarly complex, multi-step process. In a nutshell, your auto air conditioning works by condensing the refrigerant (Freon), which in turn raises its temperature. This passes through a dryer, where contaminants and moisture are removed, then into an accumulator where it’s slowed down further, leading to a loss of both pressure and temperature. The evaporator then cools down that air further still before the ventilation system pushes it out—and you experience it as a blast of chilly air!
An AC recharge is only needed, strictly speaking, when you notice that your air isn’t as cool as it used to be. With that said, routine inspections to your auto air conditioning can keep your unit from developing bigger problems, so it’s not a bad idea to ask for auto AC service when you go to get your oil changed and your tires rotated.
If you ever find that your auto air conditioning isn’t working as it’s supposed to—that is, that your auto air conditioning no longer provides nice, cool air—that’s the #1 sign that it’s time for an AC check. With that said, there’s merit to getting AC service done as regular, preventative maintenance—perhaps when you have your tires rotated or your oil changed. This allows you to stay on top of your AC help, and address any potential issues before they spiral out of control.
If nothing else, you need a routine auto AC service call to make sure you have sufficient refrigerant; remember that this is a necessary ingredient in keeping your vehicle cool, and that you use somewhere around 15 percent of it every year. More generally, an auto AC check is needed because you use that system every day, and it takes a lot of wear and tear. Naturally, the AC isn’t going to last forever—so give it the attention it needs.
The question is, when is it time to get an AC check? For starters, you should get one any time you notice that your auto air conditioning isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. If there’s no cool air coming out, that obviously spells trouble. Moreover, it’s prudent to get an AC check as part of regular preventative maintenance—say, at the same time you have an oil change or tire rotation. This will help you spot any small problems before they turn into big ones.
Certainly, you should be getting an AC check as part of your regular vehicle maintenance. This helps you to stay on top of any potential issues, and address small problems before they become big ones. Getting an AC check once or twice a year, perhaps when you get your oil changed or tires rotated, can be a great way to invest in the lifespan of your car.
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