It’s summer and it’s hot, which means your car’s air-conditioning system is going to be working overtime. But there’s an art to cooling your car correctly. These 5 tips will help you cool your car more efficiently.
Your car air conditioning works much better when you’re actually driving, because the faster the engine turns, the faster the A/C compressor runs, which lets the system cool more effectively. Don’t waste time and fuel by letting your car run before you go.
If the interior is really hot, crank up the fan when you start driving, and open just the rear windows for 10 to 20 seconds. This forces all the hot air out of the cabin. Don’t open the front windows—that only moves the heat out of the front of the car, and it will leave the air in the back of the cabin hot and stagnant.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but it makes perfect sense.
When an automotive A/C is set to “max,” it takes air from inside the car’s passenger compartment, cools it, and blows it back into the car.
The problem with this is that the air inside your car is still hotter than the air outside. If it’s 25 degrees outside, it might be 46 degrees inside your car before you start the cooling process. So if your target temperature is 16 degrees, an A/C set on “max” would have to cool the air down by 30 degrees.
If you turn the A/C on but not to “max,” it pulls air from outside the car instead. So instead of cooling the air down by 30 degrees, it only has to cool it by 9 degrees (from 25 to 16). In other words, it’s going to produce much cooler air much more quickly.
Once the car interior starts to get cooler than the outside air (and after you’ve rolled up the windows), that’s when you should set the air conditioner to “max” and recirculate that cooler air through the A/C system.
If you have passengers in the back seat, turn off the recirculation mode. This takes air from the front of the cabin and pulls it back through the system, so even though everyone up front stays cool, the air in the back can get stale and hot.
If you’ve got a newer car that has an auto start/stop system, turn it off. This feature saves fuel, but it can also keep the car air conditioning compressor from running when it shuts the engine off. In very hot weather, you can begin to notice the lack of cool air very quickly, especially if you’re stuck at a lengthy stoplight, or in stop-and-go traffic that’s barely moving.
Next time you get the chance, check your cabin air filter to make sure it’s clean. A dirty filter prevents optimal airflow. In newer cars, these filters are relatively easy to check on; if you see a lot of dirt accumulated on it, it’s time to change it. You can save money if you can replace the filter yourself—in many modern cars the filter is accessible behind the glove compartment.
If you have automatic climate control, lowering the temp doesn’t make the car cool off faster. Most systems will do all the fan and temp adjustments automatically, so you can just set it and forget it.
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