Maintaining car airconditioners
WITH SUMMERS just around the corner this would be a good time to have your cars cooling system and the air conditioning be given a quick check and some preventative maintenance to have a fail safe hot days ahead.
The car air-conditioner is a relatively sophisticated piece of equipment and it is better to know a few things on how you can look after the car A/C and get the best service from it. Remember these tips always for the optimum performance from your car's air-con system.
* If you have an air-conditioned car that is more than a year old, then the first thing you ought to do is to have the front end of the car thoroughly pressure washed which means take off the front grill exposing the A/C condenser and the radiator and have it subject to a heavy pressure of water you will be amazed at the amount of muck, grime, flying insects and other flying objects that comes out! Once this is done, then more than half the job is done. Simply put the front grill back on, top up the air-conditioner gas and you are ready to roll. Do this at least twice every hot and dusty season, for best efficiency of the air-conditioner, you may not have to top up the a/c gas every time though you will notice a marked difference in your car air-con's cooling capability and the overload on the engine reduced as well.
* Before moving off after a long halt in the sun, roll down the glasses put the A/C on full blast, put your air circulation switch to "fresh air'' and drive away for 500 metres or so and then roll up the windows. By doing this the hot air inside the car blows out and the cooling process is hastened and it will become comfortable quicker.
* Make sure that your car has tinted glasses or else have a light tinted film put on them _ however make sure that whatever tint film you use complies with the law. At present, the law dictates that 70 per cent transparency is maintained.
* Carry some stick on shades _ the ones you get on traffic crossings these days and stick them on the window glass so that direct sunlight does not fall on the passengers inside the car.
* Try and park your car in the shade as far as possible in extreme heat conditions or else try and cover the front windscreen from inside with a thick cardboard/opaque paper to protect the dash board and the steering from getting hot. This not only makes them hot but will take the airconditioner longer to get to the required cooling efficiency and it is bad for plastic.
* Once the car air-conditioning system is more than two years old, have it thoroughly serviced from inside as well by a competent air-conditioning specialist shop. Make sure that the evaporator or cooling coil is thoroughly cleaned and the pipes and hoses checked for leakages. Especially prone to leakages are rubber seals known as "O''-rings. Have these thoroughly checked along with the thermostat and the compressor. Refill gas after all this is done but make sure that you have put in the right kind of gas. Newer systems use R-134A refrigerant (an eco-friendly gas) while older systems use R-12. Look under the car hood for details before topping up A/C gas, although according to safety norms the filler inlets are different and there are less chances of goof ups. These days one need not waste money to refill fresh gas as the old gas can be filtered and recycled and used again.
* In absolutely hot conditions it would be worth splashing the condenser and radiator with water before driving off to get that immediate cooling effect from the A/C. and on the other hand it helps start off with a cooler engine
* All this is applicable in case your car is already air-conditioned. But if you want to air-condition a car without an existing A/C system, be careful of what you put in. The compressor size as well as other components such as the condenser and evaporator have to be compatible with various parameters likes the size of the engine and the like. Sometimes people have put in heavy compressors on smaller cars with disastrous results. Today, many kits are available from companies directly like Sanden Vikas and Subros. Make sure you pick the right one for your car.
Some air-conditioning specialists have developed innovative ideas such as the use of two condensers for that extra punch in cooling. Other novel ideas for small engines that drive cars such as Maruti, is mounting the condenser at the rear and using electric fans on it, thereby ensuring that airflow to the radiator is not blocked, and the engine stays cooler. A lot of research and development work by car companies has ensured that not only air-conditioners have become more effective but different temperature zones can be maintained for individual passengers. These however are complex systems found only on ultra expensive cars like the Mercedes-Benz. In-car climate control has indeed come a long way from the ice box days of yore. Go get a good airconditioner for your car and have a comfortable ride.
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