Your air conditioning system can, over the course of a year, lose around 15-20% of its’ refrigerant gas. This occurs due to the movement and vibration of your engine and its effect on the numerous O-ring joints in the system, which compensate for this movement. These joints can allow small amounts of gas and lubricant oil to escape as they flex, expand and contract.
Low levels of refrigerant and lubricant oil will cause your system to work harder to cool your car and increase your fuel consumption. As levels drop further, there is the risk of compressor failure due to insufficient lubrication. The typical cost to replace a compressor is £200-£300 plus labour for installation, and then the cost of recharging the system with gas, and oil.
Your air conditioning is not part of your vehicle's service schedule. To greatly reduce the risk of problems with your air conditioning system, it is advisable to have it serviced on a regular basis, just as you do with your engine. You can also further reduce the risk by ensuring you use the system regularly, whatever the weather; this helps to stop the O-ring joints drying out and corrosion developing in the system. Regular use will also reduce the likelihood of bad smells.
Have you noticed when using the air conditioning that there is an unpleasant smell? This may be particularly noticeable after a prolonged period of inactivity of the system. This is caused by bacterial build up on the evaporator inside the car. The evaporator is cool, dark and moist. A perfect place for bugs to grow! As well as being smelly, this can also lead to flu-like symptoms for any passengers in the vehicle as the bugs are blown around the vehicle by the air vents.
TIP: Did you know that your vehicle's air conditioning not only keeps you cool in the summer, but also keeps your windows de-misted in the winter?