How safe is the air conditioning in your car?

As a mini heatwave’s expected to hit the UK, drivers are being urged to make checks

 

A mini heatwave is expected to hit the UK sometime this week, with temperatures set to reach 21 degrees in many parts of the country.

A spell of nice weather will be a welcome break from dull days, drizzle and heavy downpours and as the mini heatwave approaches, drivers in the UK are being urged to check the air conditioning in their car as it could cause serious health problems if it’s not working as it should be.

We rely on our air conditioning to keep us cool as we drive when the temperatures are high but these systems can be dangerous to our health, so how do they actually work?

As a mini heatwave's expected to hit the UK, drivers are being urged to make checks

As a mini heatwave approaches, drivers are being urged to check their car’s air conditioning system

 

How the system works is explained on the Kwik Fit website but here’s a quick look at the information they provide.

Air conditioning systems contain a compressor which contains a refrigerant – a gas and when the system is switched on, the gas travels to a condenser and mixes with fresh air coming from outside of your vehicle. This causes the temperature of the gas to drop quickly and liquifies the refrigerant.

A drier then removes the impurities before reaching a thermal expansion valve – this allows the driver to console the temperature inside the car by limiting the liquid flow. Afterwards, the liquid is turned into vapour which travels through evaporation coins and then blows into the car as cool air.

However, if your air conditioner starts to emit a strange or unpleasant smell you should stop using it and have it looked at. It could mean that your car’s air conditioner requires debugging.

The smell can be caused by moisture and heat in the air conditioners evaporator which can be the perfect environment for the build-up of mould and bacteria.

The smell is basically spores from the build-up of bacteria which are blown into the car and could be harmful to your health and lead to illness.

“Dirt and bacteria can build up in your car’s air con system and can cause that distinctive unpleasant odour,” said Martin Baber, Halfords Autocentres expert.

The issue can be easily solved if you take your car in to have an antibacterial air conditioning clean. This ‘deep clean’ removes 99% of bacteria build-up from the air conditioning system and vents.

 

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