Why bad air-con etiquette is as bad as drink-driving

Written by Ellie

When temperatures have been as high as they have been in recent week, air-con is every motorist’s best friend. However, it could be compromising reaction times behind the wheel.

Common air-con mistakes – such as putting the system on full-blast immediately after turning the ignition – could be reducing its effectiveness, resulting in higher interior temperatures and possible dehydration.

According to research by SEAT, a difference of just 10°C inside the cabin – for example, 35°C compared to 25°C – can diminish reaction times by 20 per cent.

That might not sound like much but it is the equivalent to a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 per cent; matching the Scottish limit and close to the maximum of 0.08 per cent for the rest of the UK.

Cars parked in the sun can reach a dizzying 60°C so to help reduce cabin temperatures, the Barcelona-based car maker has highlighted the most common air-con mis-steps.

Whacking the blowers on full as soon as you get in the car

It’s understandable why some think this is an effective tactic, but without opening the windows, you’re just recirculating hot air.

A better tactic is to open the doors, lower the windows for a minute before shutting the doors and then cranking up the A/C.

Pointing the air jets right at you

This is equally tempting as going full-blast, but it’s actually counterproductive because it stops the car from getting an even distribution of airflow.

Pointing the jets upward lets the cool air spread around the car more effectively and allows it to reach all occupants.

Keeping the air recirculation option on

This is a fast-track to foggy windows and reduced visibility. If your car has an ‘auto’ option, activate that instead. This means your air-con will regulate itself, preventing fog while keeping all occupants cool.

No air-con for breakfast

SEAT says it’s a good idea to keep the A/C on – even on cooler mornings – to prevent windows from fogging up when the outside temperature rises.

Not performing regular maintenance

Many motorists neglect their air-con but it needs just as much attention as your car’s oil, tyres or brake fluid.

Failing to change clogged cabin air filters every 10,000 to 15,000 miles can stop your A/C working effectively.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Who knew there were so many air-con faux-pas?”

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Posted on 11th July 2018

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