Car Air Conditioning Tips

Thursday 18th April 2019

why does my car air conditioning smell

Come summer time, we all know the importance of having working car air conditioning. But there are common mistakes you could be making with your air con which could lead to maintenance costs, and the system itself not lasting as long as intended. Learn helpful car air conditioning tips from Formula One Autocentres today to help maximise the effects of your air con all year round.

How does air conditioning work in a car?

Air conditioning ‘conditions’ the air in your car by reducing the moisture and humidity content. The main principles of air conditioning are evaporation and condensation – it takes the heat and moisture out of the air that’s already in the car and leaves behind cooler air.

Car air conditioning mistakes you could be making

Cranking it up to full blast

On a hot day, the first thing we want to do when we get in the car is crank up the air conditioning to cool down. But why is this a mistake? The air conditioning generally takes a lot longer to work effectively if it’s just recirculating hot air – open the windows (and even the doors if you have time) to allow the car temperature to adjust and drop a couple of degrees. Once left for a few minutes, you can then turn up the air conditioning and close the windows, and you should notice an immediate improvement to your car air conditioning quality.


Although its design is to recirculate the air around the vehicle consistently and keep the car cool, turning on the recirculation option can often make the windows fog and reduce visibility. It also sometimes means it takes longer to cool down the car. However, most cars will have an ‘Auto’ option – this allows the car to regulate itself to prevent fog while keeping the car cool.

Air vent direction

Did you know, air conditioning vents are not supposed to be pointed towards passengers? Despite popular belief, and attempts at instantly cooling down, the nozzles of the car air conditioning vents should actually be pointed upwards towards the roof of the car, as opposed to directly towards passengers’ faces or the driver. Having the air pointed in this direction distributes the air flow more evenly and consistently to all passengers and keeps the car cool.

Car air con maintenance tips

Like all other car parts such as oil, brake fluid and tyres, your car air conditioning also requires regular maintenance, too. Air conditioning recharge is a common car air con maintenance procedure where the coolant which is used by the system is refreshed. It’s recommended this service happens every 2 years – as this is not included in a regular car service, and can often be overlooked.

Air filters can also become clogged – so it’s important to ensure that these are working correctly, else your air conditioning may not work effectively during the warmer months when you need it most. It’s recommended to change your air filters every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

All year round air con

With the snow and ice outside, it’s easy to see why people don’t use their car air conditioning in the winter. However, experts advise that you should turn on your air con for at least ten minutes a week in the winter. Some of the reasons why this should be done are:

  • To allow the coolant to move around the system and avoid build-up
  • To avoid moisture build-up on the vent ducts (leading to mould and bacteria in your vehicle)
  • Air conditioning can also help de-mist your windscreen and improve visibility

People could argue that running your air conditioning in the winter too would use more unnecessary fuel – however, by not running it in the winter, you’re likely in incur costs come summer when your air conditioning may not be working as effectively as you’d like.

Need help ensuring your car air conditioning is working as effectively as possible? Browse our air conditioning services for air con re-gas and air con clean services, helping to keep your car cool all year round.

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