Air-con re-gassing is not all hot air

Although the gas in your vehicle’s air-con, or climate control system, has a notional life expectancy (due to leakages) of around two years, motoring journalist Iain Robertson recommends replenishing it annually, for added safety and health.

There was a time, in the long history of motorised transport, when air-conditioning meant cracking open a window, or getting out for a breather. Nowadays, even the most rudimentary of cars and most vans and other vehicles feature standard air-con at the very least, with some of them even featuring electronically-managed climate control.

Of course, we all have reason to be grateful for these systems, as they help to remove condensation from the inside of the vehicle’s glass, to help occupants to see out more clearly all year round. It also ensures that we do not need to inhale toxic traffic, or city fumes, let alone some of the less welcome odours emanating from our countryside. However, air-con regulates, removes humidity and ensures constant interior temperatures, in the process helping the driver to maintain concentration, whether in the heat of summer, or the external chill of winter.

As with most regulators, a pump needs to be turned either electrically, or mechanically by the vehicle’s engine. As such, maintenance becomes an issue, more on which in a moment. However, not to service your car’s air-con could leave you open to all manner of diseases, from breathing in the bugs and airborne spores that an unserviced system can introduce from a blocked filter, the evaporator and even the car’s air-vents. In the worst reported cases, high traces of Legionnaire’s Disease have also been recorded in-car.

Consequently, replenishing any lost gas that operates the system but does escape naturally in small quantities, while also affecting its overall efficiency at cooling and dehumidifying the air within the cabin, as well as changing the pollen filter, is actually beneficial to your health. Most vehicle manufacturers urge their customers to have the air-con serviced every 18-24 months, as that is believed to be the safe maximum period without intervention. Personally, I request that my car’s air-con is serviced once a year, as I believe that no price can be placed on good health.

Should you visit a Mr Clutch Autocentre, you can ask the Receptionist for more details, which are also available on the company website, and have the job carried out while-you-wait. It is a task that, by law, must be carried out by professional service providers, due to a need to dispense with the old contents of the system in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Fortunately, Mr Clutch offers two stages of recharging, or regassing, of your car’s air-con. The less costly service is £39.95, which involves regassing only, using the special equipment necessary for both health and safety reasons. The alternative service, priced at £64.95, involves a more extensive health check and cleaning the ‘lungs’ of the ventilation system, to ensure that it works super-efficiently. The cabin, or pollen filter, costs an extra £10.00.

For total peace of mind and a significantly reduced risk of catching something, remember that regassing your car’s air-con at a Mr Clutch Autocentre is not just an essential aspect of vehicle servicing but one that needs to be scheduled regularly. Remember also that, while the air-con compressor can affect your vehicle’s fuel consumption negatively (by around 3-5mpg), it is still important to use it periodically throughout the year, for enhanced safety reasons and to check that it is still working effectively, does not seize up and reduces incidental gas loss.