Car Air Conditioning Smells? Here's What To Do

Smells coming from a car’s air conditioning is a common problem, but in many cases, it’s one with a simple solution, with regular maintenance helps to ensure that your air con stays fresh all year round.

At ATS Euromaster we provide quick and easy air-con recharges (sometimes called a re-gas) and anti-bacterial cleans to make sure that your air conditioning is working at its peak whatever the weather. Unsure your car will benefit from an air conditioning refresh or clean? Bring your car to us for a free air conditioning temperature check and unbiased, professional advice from our team of expert engineers. 

How Air Conditioning Works

There are a number of components that make your car’s air conditioning work. Freon gas (also known as R134a is compressed and then condensed into a liquid before being released into the air as a vapour. This is similar to the effect of spraying from an aerosol can but on a more complex scale.

Your car features a condenser, compressor, water pump, accumulator and evaporator among other components such as lines and feed systems to warm and pressurise the liquid Freon to the correct state needed to provide your car with cooling air. 

After producing the gas, your air conditioning system’s evaporator recycles it into the system, creating a cycle of consistently cool air.

Causes of Air Conditioning Smells

When dirt and bacteria build up in your car’s air conditioning system, it can cause a musty smell to waft from your car’s vents. If your air conditioning has not been used for a long period of time (over winter, for example), mould and bacteria can form and grow in your air vents, leading to the strong smell when the air con is used for the first time in several months.  This is the most common cause of air-con smell and more often than not can be solved by an anti-bacterial clean of your car’s air conditioning filters at routine intervals. 

Other smells coming from your car’s air conditioning could be as a result of a leak causing unwanted fluids to find their way into the system. In these situations it is recommended to have your car inspected immediately to prevent further damage.

Book an anti-bacterial clean at ATS Euromaster

Signs your air conditioning isn't working properly

In addition to unusual smells coming from your air conditioning, there are a number of different air conditioning faults to look out for. The most obvious symptom to look out for is a lack of cold air blowing through your car’s vents. Often this is a sign that your air-con is in need of a re-gas; while this is recommended once every two years, this time may vary depending on your air conditioning usage and the age and design of the air conditioning unit in your car.

Unusual sounds coming from your air conditioning can often be indicative of an issue with the compressor in your car’s air conditioning unit which will need to be addressed before it is able to work correctly again

As with many of your car’s internal components, the air conditioning is powered by a series of belts and pulleys. Over time these can get worn or loose and may need adjustment or replacing. There are a number of ways this can present itself, either through reduced functionality of the air conditioning unit or from unusual noises coming from the unit while active.  

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How to make your air-con last longer

Keep the windows shut

Air conditioning works similarly to your fridge or freezer at home; it removes heat and moisture and leaves you just with the cool, crisp air that makes long drives on hot days bearable. Just like your fridge, however, you’ll need to seal in the cold air to make sure that the system works correctly, which means making sure that your car’s windows are shut while the air-con is switched on- think of it as being like leaving the fridge door open.

Not only do you lose out on the full effect of the air conditioner’s cooling air with the window open, but you also run the risk of running down your air conditioning’s charge, meaning you’ll need to book your car in for a re-gas sooner as well as getting less efficient fuel consumption as your engine works harder to maintain a consistent temperature.

Use air con regularly

While you may think you’re ‘saving’ your air conditioning gas by not using it so often, leaving it for long periods of time can cause it to go ‘stale’, limiting its effectiveness. Fortunately, your car’s air conditioning can be useful all year round, as air conditioning is more effective for clearing mist from your windscreen than using the fans alone.

Let the fan run
While your air conditioning is running, moisture will build up in the filters, which eventually causes the bacteria which leads to bad smells coming from the vents. To help prevent this, turning off your car’s air-con a few minutes before the end of your journey and running the fans can help remove the excess water that would otherwise be left in your car’s air conditioning filters.

Regular recharges & anti bac cleaning

Air conditioning recharges should be carried out on your car on average once every two years; these recharges help ensure that the gas in your car’s air-con systems is at the correct level and provides the coolest air possible whenever you need it. 
ATS Euromaster provides free air conditioning temperature checks that assess the effectiveness of your car’s air-con if you’re in any doubt at all about its functionality. If your car doesn’t need a refresh or a service, you don’t owe a penny.

Our air-con recharge and anti-bacterial cleaning

At ATS Euromaster we offer both air-con recharges and anti-bacterial cleans to ensure the smooth, unhindered effectiveness of your car’s air conditioning system. To maintain its full effectiveness, your car should have its air conditioning refreshed at least once every two years. Not only can drops in gas pressure prevent cooling air from entering your car, but a struggling system can also put more strain on your car’s engine, which causes you to use more fuel.

Clean filters are also an integral part of keeping your car’s air conditioning working and healthy, with bacteria building up in air con filters over time through regular use. If your air conditioning is blowing out musty smells, an anti-bacterial clean is recommended to help return your air-con to normal, working order (and odour).
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