The cost of cover depends upon the car and the items you want to include, but it can certainly provide peace of mind and protect your bank balance if things go wrong. If you want the air conditioning system included in your warranty, make sure you choose suitable cover - and ensure your vehicle’s air con is serviced by a specialist and recharged with the correct coolant.
We’re conditioned to expect air conditioning
We’ve all probably come to expect air conditioning in our cars – even in the UK, where let’s face it, the weather’s not always the warmest. Not only does it cool the inside of the vehicle in hot weather, but in winter it will quickly clear your windscreen of frost and ice. In many ways, air conditioning is no longer seen as a luxury, but is increasingly thought of as an essential part of our driving comfort.
How it works
Your car’s air conditioning system is made up of three main parts – the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator, all working together to keep you and your passengers comfortable.
Air is brought into the vehicle from outside and is drawn in over the condenser, passing over the refrigerant gas which causes it to liquefy. Impurities are removed and the air dried before coming to a thermal expansion valve – this allows you to control the temperature in the car by limiting the liquid flow. As the liquid travels through the evaporation coils, it turns into vapour and is finally circulated around the cabin as cool air.
Just like the car itself, air conditioning needs regular maintenance to be fully efficient, but this is generally not included in your standard service and is certainly not part of the MOT, as it is not a standard safety feature. You can, of course, still drive your car safely if the air conditioning isn’t working.
Many of us fail to keep our air-con system refreshed even though it does not need to be expensive nor particularly difficult for a mechanic to look at. Over the years, some of the gas escapes from the system, reducing efficiency. It is therefore recommended that the system is recharged with gas and lubricant every two years.
If, when you turn on your air conditioning, you feel the air being blown from the vents is not as cool as it used to be, or the system is not blowing out cold air at all, then it probably needs regassing. If you can’t remember when you last had the system regassed, it is worth getting a specialist to check it out. Not regassing the system will be damaging in the long run; potentially leading to cracked pipes and the seizing up of parts if it isn’t used.
Regular servicing will save fuel. The engine drives the compressor, which drives the air conditioning system. An inefficient system works the engine harder, using more fuel.
Can I do it myself?
You can do this yourself and regassing kits are readily available, though they’re almost as expensive as hiring a specialist to do the job. Unless you’re a skilled mechanic, it’s easy to make a mistake, potentially leaving you with an expensive repair bill.
What does regassing air conditioning involve?
A technician will check your air conditioning system, top up or replace the refrigerant gas and check the system’s lubricant level. A vacuum test is then performed to check for any cracks or leaks that could cause future problems.