As we head into the warmer months it is the perfect time to service our vehicle’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). With all the recent Covid lockdown restrictions it is fair to say that our vehicles may not have been used as often as normal, as we move down the alert levels it’s the perfect time think about getting your air-condition system serviced in time for summer.
Here are some of the signs that could indicate a visit to an air-con specialist is required sooner than later.
- The front screen or windows are all misted up and you can’t clear it despite having the heater on full blast and the air-con activated.
- You’re not able to cool down the inside of your car, even with the coldest setting and the fan speed set to the max.
- The air-con light doesn’t light up when switched on.
- When you use the air-con there are unusual smells or noises coming from the system, inside or outside the car.
- There is fluid leaking on the floor inside the car from under the glovebox compartment area.
- You feel like your system is no longer cold despite having recently had the gas topped up.
- You’ve previously had a dye added to check for leaks and you’re due a service check-up.
It is considered normal that an older vehicle’s air-con system can lose up to 10% of its refrigerant a year (modern systems are less likely to lose as much). So it’s recommended to have your vehicle air-con checked or serviced every couple of years alongside your regular Cabin Air Filter replacement (if your vehicle has one) in order to keep your system running at its optimum and also to prevent or catch any large problems before they turn into very expensive repairs (a compressor replacement alone can cost a few thousand dollars).
What does a typical air-con service involve?
As part of a service, the static and operating pressures are checked, the quantity of the refrigerant, and operation of all functions is checked. The refrigerant is then recovered (sucked out and stored) and the system is vacuumed to a low pressure to remove any moisture that might be present. A pressure test is carried out to check the system has no leaks, and then it’s recharged with new refrigerant and lubricant.
A component called a receiver drier or filter drier forms part of the air-con system and is a bit like an engine oil filter - as in it has a limited life and so is also recommended to be replaced as part of a service. This is to prevent costly failures due to lack of lubricating oil to the mechanical compressor.
A typical pressure test, add oil and recharge, providing no leaks are located, is approximately $200 - $220 plus G.S.T. This can vary due to the different quantities of refrigerant charge each vehicles requires. A more comprehensive service can range between $450 and $700, depending on whether the car has a standalone receiver drier or a bag inside the condenser.
Generally the cost to remove and fit replacement Cabin Air Filters is approximately $50 - $80 plus G.S.T, some European vehicles can be over $100 plus G.S.T. As part of the AA Auto Centre AA Gold Service™ your technician will check the Cabin Air Filter.
Even in the middle of winter it is recommended to switch the air-con on for at least 10 minutes once a week. This will prevent the hoses and seals going hard and failing. Turn the system to its coldest setting and the fan to its highest speed to clean out moisture and prevent mildew build-up inside the vents.
Keep the nasties and smells away
If not maintained, the HVAC system can become a habitat for bugs, fungus, or other nasty bacteria, which can make those even without allergies cringe.
While there are some DIY system cleaners or deodorisers on the market, a specialist will be able carry out a more thorough clean using treatments to restore the interior air quality and effectively treat the micro-organism contamination whilst eliminating offensive odours.
AA Motoring also have a variety of Fresheners that have been designed using specially selected scents. They provide long lasting, refreshing scent to any vehicle. These can be found online at shop.aa.co.nz.
How the AA can help
Vehicle experts you can trust