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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.
Your auto air conditioning system takes a lot of wear, day in and day out, so it’s only a matter of time before individual components can fall into disrepair. Routine air conditioning service helps you prevent this. Additionally, a regular AC recharge ensures that you don’t run out of refrigerant—which is vital for the regular functioning of your auto air conditioning.
The good news is that most vehicle owners don’t have very frequent auto air conditioning problems—and you can minimize the risk further still by investing in a routine AC check. Having an AC recharge every year or so is likely enough.
A lot of drivers have the auto air conditioning system all wrong. They assume it’s pretty straightforward, creating and then disseminating cool air. Actually, it’s quite a bit more complicated than that. In a multi-step process that begins at the compressor and ends at your air vents, the auto air conditioning actually creates warm air, then strips out all the moisture and contaminants—cooling and depressurizing it all the while. Obviously, this requires a lot of work, so it stands to reason that the auto air conditioning system might need to be inspected and repaired from time to time.
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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