With sweltering summer temperatures just around the corner, now is a great time to get your poorly performing air conditioning system repaired before you depend on it to survive even the quickest drives across town. But even if your A/C system seems to be chugging along just fine, it's still important to schedule regular maintenance—and for your heating system as well.
You probably don't plan on cranking up the heater for several months, but believe it or not, your car's heating system is responsible for cooling your car's engine on hot days, and the A/C system plays a vital role during the colder months as well. Ignoring performance issues can lead to expensive repairs down the line.
It might sound strange, but your car's engine cooling system is directly related to the heating system. Engine friction and combustion produce heat during operation, and while most of it is expelled through the exhaust system, the remaining heat must be dissipated. A mixture of water and antifreeze circulating through the engine block and radiator releases the excess heat into the atmosphere, and on cold days, that heat can also be redirected into the car to provide warmth for you and your passengers. Without a properly functioning heating system, your engine could overheat on a hot summer's day and—in a worst-case scenario—break down completely.
On chilly winter mornings, when you can see your breath but not through your windshield because of a pesky layer of frost, your air conditioning system is hard at work behind the scenes. By pulling humidity out of the air, the air conditioning system helps defrost and defog the windshield, so if you notice defogging issues on cooler “June gloom” mornings, it might be time to recharge the A/C system or have a mechanic check for leaks and damage.
Unlike the furnace in your house, a car's heating system does not involve a central heating unit that can be simply replaced. The system is actually a combination of components including the blower fan, thermostat, and heater core, which is usually located in a difficult to reach area under the dashboard and can take days to repair if minor issues are not immediately addressed. Regular maintenance includes checking hoses and belts, and ensuring the antifreeze is clean and filled to proper levels; it will help keep the whole system in good working order.
The compressor is the most important component of your car's air conditioning system, so it's no surprise that it's also the most expensive part to repair or replace. Regular maintenance ensures proper refrigerant and lubrication levels, which reduces the risk of premature compressor failure. Also, the most common air conditioning system problems involve minor issues like blockages or leaks, which are much easier to deal with if caught early during regular maintenance. And as an added bonus, regular A/C maintenance can also improve your car's fuel efficiency, leaving more money in your wallet for summer fun.
As part of any regular maintenance routine for your car's heating and air conditioning systems, mechanics will check your cabin air filter and replace it if needed. Cabin air filters trap pollen, bacteria, dust, and exhaust fumes before the air reaches your dashboard vents and pollutes the air you and your passengers breathe. Dirty or clogged filters can cause a variety of problems, from musty odours to headaches, allergic reactions, or breathing problems from the fumes, so it's crucial to replace the filter before it gets that bad.