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  Air conditioning maintenance

Does you air conditioning smell like sweaty gym socks? Maybe it's not blowing cold? Here's some basic maintenance advice to keep you cool.

If your car is fitted with air conditioning, the last thing you’ll want is it packing up on one of those rare hot summer days! Air conditioning maintenance is easily overlooked as it doesn’t tend to affect the roadworthiness of the car. However, neglecting it can lead to expensive problems further down the line.

Basic upkeep is easy and will help ensure it’s working when you need it. One of the simplest ways you can keep your air conditioning in good order is to use it all year round. Try using it at least once every two weeks.

TOP TIP: In winter, use your air conditioning to demist the windscreen. It’s an easy way to make sure you use it all year round and is very good at clearing the screen.

What happens if I don’t use the air conditioning very often?

When used infrequently, moisture can start to build up in the pipes and vents which breeds fungus, bacteria and mould. This can make the car smell like old socks or worse, gives you a sore throat and headache.

You can prevent and cure this yourself by using an air conditioning cleaner. Other maintenance will need to be done by a professional, for instance, changing the air filters which get blocked with dust and pollen.

The refrigerant gas that the system runs on will need refilling every two to three years as it escapes gradually over time and leaves you with air-conditioning that no longer blows cold. A lack of use increases the rate at which the gas escapes as the rubber joints in the system dry out and no longer form a good seal.

Air con maintenance products

Air conditioning cleaner is a cheap and effective way to clean the system yourself. You can either buy it as an aerosol can which is sprayed directly into the air vents, or the type that is left to discharge inside the car with the air conditioning running. You’ll find it on sale in most motor spares stores.

Comma air conditioning cleaner



If you’ve been driving the car with the air conditioning running, you may find small puddles on the ground under the car after it’s been parked. This will usually be where a drain tube is fitted to the system that allows condensation to escape. However, if you notice it regularly, check your coolant level to make sure you don’t have a leak, especially if you haven’t been using the air conditioning.


If your windscreen mists up excessively or the carpets seem damp it could mean the condensation drain pipe is blocked. If you have this problem it’s an easy thing to have fixed. (And definitely worth it to stop any bacteria and mould growing.)

Strange noises?

Strange noises that start when you run the air conditioning should get immediate attention. The system pump called the ‘compressor’ could be the cause and is often a sign of it failing. It might not be cheap to fix but will be significantly cheaper than letting the entire system breakdown.


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