Car AC maintenance tips for the summer

Let the master mechanics at Certified Auto Repair SLO inspect your car’s air conditioning system to ensure it’s keeping you cool all summer.

Summer is in full swing here on California’s Central Coast, and depending on where you live, it’s already hot

. Real hot. That means for all you drivers out there that you want your car’s air conditioning to be working in perfect order. Who wants to be driving around in a virtual oven, right? 

So, the master mechanics at Certified Auto Repair in San Luis Obispo have come up with a list of ways to keep your vehicle’s AC system working perfectly and ready to keep your drives cool and comfortable.  

1. Clean or Change Your Cabin Air Filter 

Cabin air filters trap dirt and keep debris from entering the cabin through the air conditioning system. Excessively dirty or clogged filters result in poor air flow to the cabin. If your filter isn’t reusable, replacement cabin air filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Most can be accessed through the glove box, but cabin air filters in older cars may require that you dismantle the dashboard. Check your owner’s manual for more information on your specific cabin air filter. 

2. Maintain Your Engine’s Cooling System 

Engine temperature can affect the efficiency of your vehicle’s AC system. Make sure to flush your radiator periodically. Coolant carries heat from the engine block and is cooled in the radiator. An efficient radiator is key to maintaining optimum engine operating temperatures. 

3. Check Your Fan Belt 

“Fan belt,” “V-belt,” and “serpentine belt” are terms commonly used to refer to the accessory drive belt. Accessories that need power are connected by this belt along with pulleys to the drive shaft. Your AC compressor, for instance, is a key component that relies on the accessory drive belt, which can crack and break over time. A broken fan belt will leave your compressor with no power and an AC system that won’t cool. 

Make sure your accessory drive belt is in working condition, as it’s needed to power your AC compressor. 

4. Turn Off Your AC Before You Turn Off Your Car 

We’ve all been guilty of just turning off the car without turning the AC off once we get to our destination. But keep in mind that turning your AC off first can help prolong your car’s battery life. Otherwise, you could shock and damage the AC system, and your battery will have to work harder to turn the car back on. 

5. Park in the Shade 

Parking in the shade can help in keeping your cabin cool. Your AC system will also cool air at a lower temperature, giving it the opportunity to cool the cabin faster. 

6. Don’t Max It Out 

Keeping your AC on full blast at all times can place a lot of stress on the different components of your AC system (including your AC condenser, AC compressor, blower motor, AC evaporator, and AC receiver drier), and could eventually lead to damage. It could also take power away from the engine, making you compensate with more accelerator inputs, which can lead to lower gas mileage. 

Here’s a more efficient way to cool down a hot cabin: 

Before you start driving, open the windows and turn on the fan. 

After you’ve been driving for a little while, turn the air conditioner on and set it at the lowest temperature. 

Once cool air starts to come out of the vents, roll your front windows up and leave the back windows open. 

Keep adjusting the fan until your desired temperature is reached. 

Close your rear windows once the climate is just right. 

To prevent system damage, start your A/C at the lowest temperature when driving. 

7. Use It Regularly

Your AC refrigerant carries lubricating oils to critical parts of the system and keeps seals from drying up and cracking. If you aren’t using your car, make sure you turn the air conditioning on every now and then, and leave it running for 10 minutes. This will also blast out any mildew buildup in the system. 

8. Perform Regular Maintenance 

A healthy AC system requires periodic maintenance, so getting it checked at least once a year is vital. Refrigerants that circulate in the system need to be topped up, and a good cleaning will help your air conditioner run efficiently. Your mechanic can also identify problem spots in the system and address them before they become detrimental. 

The AC in your car isn’t just used during the summer. It also controls your car’s interior climate in the winter. Remember that this air will be blowing into your face almost all year-round, so maintaining a clean, fully functioning AC system is important. Mold and airborne pathogens can circulate in the system and greatly affect your health. So, when in doubt, let the pros at Certified Auto Repair in San Luis Obispo give your AC system a complete inspection to ensure it’s running properly.