Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Martin Aguilar, Fritz Catalan | posted April 06, 2015 17:00
Beat the summer heat by keeping your car airconditioning system in tip-top shape
As the summer season bears down on us, our car's air conditioner will once again be put to the ultimate test. During this time of the year, it is essential to make sure that our cars' air conditioning system can keep up with the tropical heat.
One of the best ways to prepare your car to beat the summer heat is to have its air conditioning system checked and cleaned on a regular basis either by a car dealer or a reputable and authorized service center. This time we opted to try out the air conditioning service of Coolmate Corporation, the authorized Denso parts distributor and service center in the Philippines.
In a nutshell, a regular car air conditioner service intends to ensure a comfortable drive, especially with our intense summer heat The air conditioning system is designed to cool the temperature inside the vehicle's cabin with the help of a number of components such as the evaporator, condenser and compressor.
Coolmate Corporation offers two kinds of air conditioner service: basic or general. In the basic service, your car's evaporator will be cleaned and the o-rings are to be replaced. On the other hand, the general service involves a more intensive cleaning process because all of the air conditioner components such as the compressor, condenser and evaporator will be taken out from the car.
During our visit to the company's shop in Makati, the guys at Coolmate showed us how they do their general automotive air conditioning service.
General Service Cleaning Process
Before anything else, the general cleaning process starts by diagnosing your car's air conditioning system so that Coolmate's technicians can gauge whether it is still in serviceable state.
After diagnosis, the technicians will remove the compressor, condenser and evaporator; the three primary components of an automotive air conditioning system. These are all inspected, thoroughly cleaned and prepared for reassembly.
Other A/C parts such as the drier, expansion valve, O-rings and compressor oil are all to be replaced. According to Coolmate, they prefer to replace the said air conditioner parts because these are all critical components. The drier is the one that eliminates moisture while the expansion valve is in charge of removing pressure from the refrigerant as it transforms from liquid into vapor.
On the other hand, the O-rings tend to get brittle with time because it is exposed to extreme temperatures. Worn out O-rings may cause leaks that would affect your air conditioner's performance.
Lastly, the oil which lubricates all the moving components of the compressor is to be refilled with a fresh batch because, as with motor oil, the quality deteriorates with use. Like any parts essential to keeping a machine going, these components are prone to wear and tear that's why it is essential to replace them as needed.
After the said components are replaced, cleaned and prepared, the Denso technicians are ready to re-install them as per factory specifications. After installation, the air conditioner will be hooked up to a vacuum device to extract the excess air inside the system. The final step is the attachment of a refrigerant bottle so that a fresh supply of R134a can be re-introduced into the air conditioning system.
Tips on how to keep your A/C clean
After showing us the step-by-step process of their general air conditioner service, we were able to chat with Coolmate Corporation President Vincent Tagle on how to keep our cars' air conditioning systems cool and clean for longer periods of time.
1. Avoid oil-based air fresheners
For most of us, we want our car's interior to smell good that's why we buy air fresheners. Coolmate recommends that we avoid using oil-based fresheners because the oil accumulates dirt as it evaporates, dirt that . As a result, this will make your air conditioner more prone into getting dirty.
2. A clean cabin means cleaner air conditioning
Find time to regularly vacuum the floor section of the passenger side because this is where the air conditioner generally draws air from. In addition, you might consider using an ionizer such as Denso's Plasmacluster which is an air-purifying product that absorbs airborne dirt and smoke.
3. Don't park on an incline
Choose your parking spot wisely. Avoid parking on an uphill incline because the accumulated water and moisture in the evaporator housing wouldn't be able to drain outside of the vehicle; instead the water can drip onto the passenger side carpet. With this added moisture, organisms such as mold or bacteria can grow and generate a rather foul smell. If you have no other choice but to park in an incline road, make sure that your car is facing downhill so the water can drain properly.
4. Maintain a gap in traffic to let the condenser breathe
Do not tailgate in heavy traffic because closely tailing the vehicle ahead places your radiator and condenser in the direct path of the exhaust from vehicle ahead. Allocate a certain distance to the vehicle in front so that fresh air can reach your radiator and condenser; half a car length (or about 2-3 meters) at least. By doing this the condenser will work better and last longer it is exposed to less heat and exhaust.
5. Replace the cabin filter regularly
If your car is equipped with a cabin filter, it is essential to replace it every year. In this way, your air conditioner will be cleaner and be less prone to dirt build up.
6. Fake parts break hearts
Buy original parts. Use original air conditioner products and avoid installing fake components. Yes, you may argue that original products costs a little more but it will surely give you better performance and lasts longer compared to the fake stuff.
7. Run the engine and A/C regularly
When you’re not using your car for long periods of time, Coolmate recommendeds that you start the engine as well as the A/C daily for about 5 minutes. This is done so that the compressor oil can lubricate your cooling unit.
8. Pets in the back please
For pet lovers, Coolmate recommends that pets be put in the backseat and not in front. The reason is that when pets shed, the hair could be easily sucked in by the air conditioning system. More hair in the system means more maintenance is required.
9. Use an ionizer
Use an Ionizer such as Denso's Plasmacluster which is an air-purifying product that absorbs smoke and other airborne viruses
10. Fix it, even if it ain't broke
Make A/C cleaning a habit. Getting your car's air conditioning system serviced regularly is the best option to maintain its ability to cool down the cabin. According to Coolmate, you should let your car’s air conditioner be serviced every 2-3 years. For old cars, the company suggests that you do it annually because these certain models are typically not equipped with cabin filters.
You can visit Coolmate Corporation at 3005 Pablo Ocampo St., Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Makati City. The company's contact numbers are 895-9540 / 895-6587.