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Auto A/C Facts and Maintenance Tips

Did you know?

  • A company in New York City in the United States first offered installation of air conditioning for cars in 1933. Most of their customers operated limousines and luxury cars.
  • In 1939, Packard became the first automobile manufacturer to offer an air conditioning unit in its cars.[2] These bulky units were manufactured by Bishop and Babcock (B&B), of Cleveland, Ohio and ordered on approximately 2,000 cars.
  • Walter Chrysler had seen to the invention of Airtemp air conditioning in the 1930s for the Chrysler Building, and had offered it on cars in 1941-42, and again in 1951-52.
  • Pontiac was the first auto manufacturer to fit all the refrigeration components under the hood which became the standard layout of modern auto ac units.
  • Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile added air conditioning as an option on some of their models in the 1953 model year.
  • In 1954, the Nash Ambassador was the first American automobile to have a front-end, fully integrated heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system.
  • Combining heating, cooling, and ventilating, the new air conditioning system for the Nash cars was called the “All-Weather Eye”. The system had cold air for passengers enter through dash-mounted vents.[15] Nash’s exclusive “remarkable advance” was not only the “sophisticated” unified system, but also its $345 price that beat all other systems.[16]
  • In the early 1960’s, GM’s Cadillac division introduced the 1st front-mounted air-conditioning system with integrated automatic climate control…the ac dial. Cadillac called it ‘Comfort Control,’ which made use of sensors to determine fan speed, temperature, and when to use fresh or recirculated air. Cadillac moved on to become the 1st automaker to sell 500,000 cars with A/C.
  • By 1960 about 20% of all cars in the U.S. had air-conditioning, with the percentage increasing to 80% in the warm areas of the Southwest.
  • Prior to 1996, car manufacturers used Freon R-12 as the refrigerant of automobile A/C units. This was later deemed harmful to the upper atmosphere due to its chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), which depletes the ozone layer. 
  • In a modern automobile, the A/C system will use around 4 horsepower (3 kW) of the engine’s power, thus increasing fuel consumption of the vehicle.

Car A/C Facts:

  • The recirculation mode will either reuse air inside or bring in fresh outside air. Recirculating air inside is a good way to quickly cool down the car left under the scorching sun (in some cases warming up the cabin). It recycles the air inside to get cooler/warmer temperatures.
  • Leaving the recirculating mode off for too long may pose risks to your health as it degrades the air quality over time.
  • Turning the recirculating mode on will refresh oxygen supply from the outside.
  • Your car’s air-conditioning system comes equipped with a filter designed to keep pollen and other particulates from entering the vehicle. Over time, this filter can become clogged. In addition to reducing airflow, a clogged filter can lead to unpleasant odors entering the vehicle. A clogged filter is a breeding ground for bacteria that can eventually lead to “sick car syndrome.”
  • The air-conditioning unit in a vehicle has three parts. It has a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator. In order for the unit to function smoothly, each of these parts must be regularly serviced and maintained.
  • Your vehicle’s air conditioning system runs whenever you turn on the Defrost mode. It is designed to engage and act as a dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air entering your vehicle to aid in removing moisture (fogging) from your windows. 
  • Vehicles with working air conditioning that the side and back windows are always clear. Vehicles without air conditioning or needing A/C repairs will have steamed up side and back windows which continually need wiping to clear.

Tips for Maintaining your car's A/C

  • Allow the air-conditioning system to run for at least a few minutes every single week regardless of what the outside temperature may be. This way, all of the hoses, valves, and pumps in the system will stay well lubricated. During the winter months, the automobile’s air-conditioning can be used to remove humidity from the car and to remove moisture from windows.
  • Every two years, recharge your vehicle’s air-conditioning system with fresh gas and lubricant.
  • Proper air-conditioning maintenance, including replacing refrigerant, changing filters and cleaning the coils periodically is a must for the unit to function properly.
  • Remember, when you turn on the Defrost Mode, the compressor is engaged. With a low refrigerant charge over the winter months, you’re not getting the refrigerant oil back to the compressor which is damaging it all winter season that will lead to costly repairs in the spring time.
  • The older vehicles used to have systems that held upwards of 36 ounces of refrigerant. Today’s vehicles have much smaller systems that require as little as 15 ounces of refrigerant. The need to recharge your air conditioning has become much more important with these reduced capacities or system damage will occur.