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AC and Keeping Cool in the Car this Summer

Crikey, we’re having a hot summer, for sure.  The heat outside can be unbearable some days.  Thanks to Willis Carrier, a 25-year-old engineer from New York, who in 1902 invented the first modern air-conditioning system we now have an invention developed further into what we now have for cooling our buildings and automobiles.  Willis’s system sent air through water-cooled coils, and was designed to control humidity in the printing plant where he worked.  People in Iran, Australia, Egypt and the Middle East know all about the benefits of having water held around dwellings so that any breeze passing over the water will be cooled thus providing a very pleasant space for people on the downwind side of the water source.  This cooled space is delightful on a very hot day.

The concept of pushing hot air over cool water and cooled refrigerant has also been developed in cars, and thus we have what is known as the air-conditioning unit, used in many of the cars that we drive.  More fancy cars use a climate control system which can automatically adjust the system to keep the cabin at a pre-set temperature.

It makes sense to keep your vehicle’s air-conditioning unit in good shape, so make it a habit to get it checked over every couple of years prior to summer kicking in – particularly when you sense that the air-conditioning system is running a little below par.  In Australia, where it is common for the temperatures to soar well into the high 30’s, and beyond, having a car with a properly functioning air-conditioning system is a must.  It becomes a safety issue, really!

The main reasons your air-con won’t be working are: a blocked condenser, the compressor no longer works properly, there is no more gas in the air-conditioning system, there could be a refrigerant leak, a relay problem or any other electrical issue.  Automotive air conditioning professionals can diagnose why your car’s A/C system isn’t working and fix or replace the required components.  Using the system more frequently helps it to keep ticking over for longer.

It’s also good to travel with plenty of water handy for hydration, and there are also some other simple and practical ways that will help you to stay cool in your car this summer.  Did you know that tinting your car’s windows makes travelling on hot sunny days more comfortable?  Window film cuts UV by 98% to protect your car and its occupants.

Sunshades are also very effective at keeping the sun and heat out of your car.  They can be placed on the front and/or rear inside windows and keep the direct sunlight out of your car.  Sunshades that attach to your side windows are also available from car accessory stores, nationwide.

Buying a car with reasonable engine performance and torque also ensures that the air-conditioning will run freely without taking too much away from the car’s overall performance and responsiveness.  Every time you activate the air-conditioning it draws power from the engine.

The performance impact may only be small, but it is there – and over time it adds up.  There are quite a few smaller, compact cars on the roads these days, and it’s worthwhile knowing that the effect of AC on engine performance is greater in these smaller vehicles than in those with larger engines – V6’s, diesels and V8s, for example.

Just so you know…

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