Look after your car's air conditioning to save fuel

The correct use of a car’s air-conditioning system, including switching the unit off completely when it is not needed, can save fuel, experts at the TUV Nord testing centre in Hanover point out.

When the car interior heats up after the vehicle has been standing in the sun for a long period, it is far more effective to open all the doors and the tailgate first before switching on the air conditioning. This unit will then require less energy to cool down the interior to the required temperature, say the engineers.

When driving off, the unit should be switched on to maximum power with the air-circulation feature activated. This will ensure that the air in the car cools down quickly without putting undue strain on the system.

As soon as the temperature becomes comfortable, air from the outside can be let in again. By regulating the temperature carefully during a journey, the increased fuel consumption associated with air conditioning can be minimised, says the centre. Its experts recommend setting the car interior temperature at five degrees below the prevailing outside air temperature.

In principle, air conditioning should be switched off completely if it is not needed to keep down fuel costs and reduce wear and tear. The systems are apt to lose coolant over time and the main items such as condensing unit coils and the various belts in the system should be checked at least once every two years, says the centre.

Without regular tune-ups, air-conditioning units generally lose about 5% of their efficiency for each year of operation.

According to the German car-testing authority, the air-conditioning units of about half the cars on the roads in Germany are in need of repair or maintenance.—Sapa-dpa

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