3 Cool Things You Need to Know About Auto Air Conditioning (and One You Don’t)

Too Hot in the Car


For many car owners, air conditioning boils down to 3 things:

1. I’m too hot.

2. I press a button.

3. I’m not hot anymore.


Simple, right? Wrong.

Your vehicle’s air conditioning is a complex system that you and your passengers depend on for comfort. And considering the average Canadian spends over an hour a day in their vehicle just getting to and from work (plus all the time spent running errands and shuttling the kids around), comfort is a big deal.

As with anything, the more you know about your air conditioning system, the better off you’ll be. Here are a few key (and not-so-key) things you should know:


The first auto air conditioning system was installed in 1933

But…the cooling coils took up half of the trunk space, it was really inefficient and it didn’t have an on/off switch. So if it got a little too chilly, the driver had to stop the engine, pop the hood and disconnect a compressor belt. How convenient.

Today, more than 99% of new vehicles come with air conditioning (not to mention handy dashboard controls)!

Now on to the more important things…


Your A/C system is tied into your defrost system

The next time you’re waiting for your windshield to de-fog on a gross, rainy winter morning, stop fiddling with the dials and trying to find that perfect combination of hot and cold air. All that switching around is hard on the fingers, and it’s probably unnecessary.

You see, your car’s air conditioning system is so effective at removing moisture that most car manufacturers employ the A/C any time the “Defrost” mode is selected. This combination dries the windshield much faster than heat alone.

If your car is not of the modern variety, these two systems might not be tied together. In that case, you can manually turn on the A/C to get rid of foggy windows.


That funny smell might be bacterial buildup

Are you greeted with a lovely musty odour every time you turn on your air conditioning? It’s probably good old-fashioned mildew.

Your car’s air conditioner does more than just keep the air cool and comfortable. It also acts as a dehumidifier. So, that nasty odour you smell is bacteria and mold growing in the moist evaporator core. And the more humidity there is, the worse it smells.

It’s kind of a gross problem, but you don’t have to live with the stench. It might help to turn off the A/C for 5 minutes and run the fan on high to dry the system out. But if it’s a particularly bad situation, you may need to call a professional to disinfect and deodorize your air conditioner.

Even if you don’t mind the smell of old socks, you still need to get your A/C system checked out. Where there’s odour there’s mold, and breathing it in can be damaging to your health. Plus, it never hurts to make sure the smell isn’t a sign of a much bigger problem.


Just because you don’t use it that often doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever

Do you only use your car’s air conditioner in the summer? Or, as mentioned before, when you need to de-fog your windows?

Many drivers think they’ll prolong their air conditioner’s life if they don’t use it that often, but that’s really not the case. Your air conditioner is filled with parts that are meant to move and you need to give them regular exercise and attention. So, press that A/C button all year round!

It’s smart to run your air conditioner for at least a few minutes every week, and always be on the lookout for possible problems. But most importantly, have the system inspected and serviced by a professional every year before the hot weather hits.


You can give us a call at (250) 475-2000 to schedule an appointment or get in touch with us online. We’re experienced in all makes and models and will have your air conditioning system performing at its best!



Image courtesy of Carol Von Canon.

1 comment

Gregory Willard said:

May 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm

My wife’s car has always had problems with the air conditioning. I never knew that if the air smells weird that it might be bacteria in the car. I have never really noticed it, but I do smell must whenever we turn it on. I will have to check that out. Thanks.

Write a Comment

Fields with * are required