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Take the Heat: How to Maintain Your Carís Cooling System
ou might think that setting the
air conditioning or heating system would be a simple procedure,
but you'd be amazed at how many cars are taken in for repairs,
just because the car owners didn't have the A/C system set
properly. Obviously, one of the first places to look for this
information is in your owner's manual. However, there are a few
tips you should be aware of that will help you get the most out of
your car's A/C system.
Adjusting the System for Optimum Performance
First, remember that warm air rises and cold air sinks. That
means in most cases you'll want to use the floor vents for the
heat. In the warm weather you should use the panel vents for the
A/C, and you should adjust them to aim slightly upward. That way
the air will circulate better and cool the passenger compartment
Once the temperature in the passenger compartment becomes
comfortable, donít shut the system off because you'll only have
to turn it back in a few minutes. Instead, adjust the temperature
slightly and lower the fan speed. Thatíll keep it comfortable
To defrost or defog your windows in the winter, the defroster
is a good choice. Consider that windows can become fogged on damp
summer days, too. On those days, switch to the A/C, set to normal.
The A/C system dries the air coming in, it and will circulate it
better than the defroster.
Don't switch to the maximum setting on the A/C to defog your
windows. That setting
re-circulates the air in the passenger compartment so cool, dry
air may not reach all the way to the windows. The normal setting
works better. On really hot days, you may want to use the max A/C
setting, On most cars max A/C shuts off any coolant flow through
the heater core and recycles the air in the passenger compartment
instead of trying to cool and dehumidify the outside air. However,
don't leave it on max too long. Eventually, the air inside will
become stuffy and can affect your concentration. Once the system
has taken the edge off the heat, switch to normal.
Air Conditioning System Maintenance
Your car's air conditioning is the one system that probably
doesn't require a lot of regular maintenance. In general, if the
system's working, itís OK. If not, it needs to be checked and
Below are a few simple checks you can perform to keep the A/C
working properly, or determine whether it needs to be serviced:
Check the Condenser ó That's the
large heat exchanger in the front a your car, just forward of the
radiator. Look at it and make sure thereís no dirt or debris
blocking air flow through it. Remove any litter that's attached
itself to the condenser and use a garden hose to wash away any
dirt or bugs.
Check the Belt ó With the engine
off, check the compressor belt for wear and make sure itís
tight. If it's too loose or damaged, have it tightened or replaced
before the summer gets into full swing.
Check the Operation ó Start the engine
and try the A/C on the first warm day.
ē Do you hear any strange noises?
ē If your car has an electric cooling
fan, does it start when you turn on the A/C? (It should on most
ē Is cold air coming out of the vents?
ē Try the controls: Does the air come
out of the correct vents?
If everything seems OK, your air conditioning probably will work
fine or the season. But if you notice a problem during any of these
checks, take your car in to have the system checked and repaired.
Finally, check the air filter. Some of today's cars have an air
filter to filter the air coming into the passenger compartment. It
may be called a pollen filter, a particulate filter or a micron
filter. Whatever it's called, if your car has one, you should check
it and replace it if it's dirty. If you re not sure if your car has
an A/C system air filter, check your owner's manual. It'll tell you
whether it has one, where to find it and how to check it. Donít
wait until summer to get youíre A/C fixedÖdo it now while itís
still cool enough!
Car's Mechanical Condition
Battery Facts -everything you ever wanted to know about
your car battery.
vs. Automatic Transmission:Which is Better? -tips for
deciding on the type of transmission
Easy Steps to Make Your Clutch Last Longer -some of these
may surprise you.
is a Differential? -During a turn, the outer wheels drive
farther than the inner wheels, and this is an important function of
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