Keep Calm and Drive On

If the summer heat drives you to distraction, the last thing you need is a malfunctioning air conditioning (A/C) system when you’re on the road. Checking your vehicle’s A/C annually will help you keep your cool when temperatures soar, says the Car Care Council.

“Getting stuck in traffic is stressful enough, but getting stuck in traffic during the heat of summer without a functioning A/C is the pits,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It is important to always have the A/C system properly maintained to keep it in tip-top shape and avoid costly repairs down the road.”

A vehicle’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system (HVAC) keeps the interior cabin comfortable in any season by providing the right temperature and humidity level. A thorough inspection should be performed annually and a typical A/C service consists of the following steps:

  •  A service technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.
  • If the system is found to be low on refrigerant, a leak test is performed to find the source of the leak. Keep in mind that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, it is damaging the ozone layer.
  • Refrigerant may be added if necessary to “top off” the system, although some states do not allow “topping off.”
  • A technician may also check for evidence of refrigerant cross-contamination, which is the mixing of refrigerants.
  • A/C service should also include a check of the compressor’s drive belt and tension.

“Checking the A/C once a year is key to making sure your cooling system is running efficiently all year long,” White said. “A properly running HVAC system will help improve your gas mileage, is more environmentally-friendly and will keep you calm as you drive on.”

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