Air con - Big Cat
The lady wants a decent second-hand car and has decided she wants air con. We are looking at something about two or three years old, either Ford, Rover, VW or Japanese. We've had all these different makes in the past and have been pleased with them. However we have never had a car with air con. Have had a good look at the excellent website but I wanted to know which air con systems are the most reliable and least prohibitive to fix when they need repair.
Are there any reliability comparisons for air con available?Which system would an air con engineer choose for their car?
Air con - apm
The climate control in my Seat Ibiza has given me no problems in the last 2 years. I guess it'll be same as in VW's.

Beware though- heard about some guy with a Jag, had a mossie bite on his leg, long journey, so blasted all of the cold air at his feet. Got frostbite! May be apocryphal, but made I laugh.
Air con - frostbite
Never touched him!
Air con - DavidHM
You're not considering buying a used car without air con and then retrofitting it are you?

If so, save yourself the hassle and put the four figure extra cost to finding one with it.
Air con - Alfafan {P}
Had a Celica for 5 years, current one for 9 months. Never a glitch, no servicing, blows out the cold air within about 30 seconds. Go Toyota
Air con - Ian (Cape Town)
Britain's heatwave, which has claimed dozens of sunburn and heat exhaustion victims, has now produced its first case of frostbite.

A motorist was diagnosed with the condition after driving with his toes too close to the air conditioning vent on the 400km journey from London to Manchester.

One of his toes started to turn black and another went blue.

"It was incredibly hot," Mike Ball, 46, told the Guardian newspaper. "I slipped off my shoe and sock because my car is an automatic and I don't need to use my left foot.

"I didn't realise anything was wrong until the next day when my foot was extremely painful."

Ball went to his doctor and was prescribed a cure for mild frostbite. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Ok, it was in the Grauniad...
Air con - Big Cat
David HM

No, not thinking of retro-fitting. Just wanted to know what cars have the most reliable air con fitted. I know a bloke who had air con retro fitted to his BMW and had endless problems with it.
Air con - Aprilia
My guess would be that, as usual, the Japanese make reliable air-con systems.
Air con - KB.
I did read that Toyota air/con has the best fault record. Can't remember where I read it - might even have been here somewhere.
Air con - Hugo {P}
I wouldn't choose a car soley on the reliability of it's air conditioning.

Suggest you look into which cars are a good buy generally, then look at the air con option for those cars, or look at the trim level that has it as standard.

When I looked at buying a Freelander, the base model would have attracted an extra £850 to have air con retro fitted by the dealer. The next model up, which had air con, alloy wheels and some other stuff as standard was about an extra £1200 or so, which would have protected its value better, so if we had decided on the air con we would have bought the next model up.

If you're buying a used car, you would need to bear this in mind for two reasons

1 - to protect your investment

2 - to avoid retro fitted air con (if you choose to) - you simply do your homework on whether A/C would have been a standard item on that car.

Air con - waterboy
The air conditioning on my former 1985 Celica Supra is still doing its duty without being messed with.

Just one piece of anecdotal evidence, but a few may mount up.

Tomo as was!
Air con - Martin Wall
A friend has a Carina E of '96 vintage the a/c of which is still working fine with no servicing. Go Japanese would be my recommendation.
Air con - THe Growler
I only had one problem with a Japanese car air-con in 27 years of driving Japanese all over the world in demanding climates and that was a hose which had chafed against something due to vibration. Now and then I'd take 'em get the gas checked, it might or might not need a bit of freon, mostly not and that was it.

Interestly the ' 84 Mercedes I had in between some of these had an aircon which was feeble in output compared with the Japs, was smelly and leaked freon continually.

The aircons I have in my house (well it's the tropics) are all Japanese or Korean brands assembled in the Philippines and used 365/24. Hose out the air filters now and then, that's all that's needed. I did have a problem with the thermostat on one last year, that's it.

I have always thought the Europeans have never really got their heads round air-con, it still seems a phenomenon or an optional extra and they still don't know how to do it right. YOu wouldn't do too well exporting Jap cars to the Middle East if they didn't have serious air-con, so they had to learn how to do their knitting if they wanted to sell cars. I remember the Renaults and Range Rovers which came into Bahrain in the 80's. They were a joke in this regard and no one would touch them.

Air con - Blue {P}
My gran had a T reg Corolla, and I was never that impressed with the A/C system, it seemed a bit gutless in my opinion, but again, that's just anecdotal evidence.

Air con - Ian (Cape Town)
Blue, that's probably because it was a Corolla! Work on simple maths - an aircon uses engine power, and at a rough guestimate, would 'suck' 8HP or so. Maybe the corolla had such a feeble engine that they had to scale the aircon down, in case it robbed too much power! (I know a colleague's 1.3 Corolla feels like it has been filled with bricks when you turn the airco on!)
I know on my Astra the airco makes very little noticable difference in performance/economy.
Air con - apm
This is all interesting. In the recent unseasonally hot spell, I've noticed that my Seat Ibiza Cupra (1.8 20vt)is definitely not quite as quick as usual. I assume it's because the a/c is on full, and leeching some of the power. Would the lack of an intercooler on the turbo also affect this, what with the ingoing air being really hot?


Air con - THe Growler
Your a/c compressor is a quite demanding unit. In hot countries when the a/c runs full blast all the time this is very noticeable, especially if you have the a/c sent on "recirc". If you set it to the "fresh" air setting that may dominish the effect but of course then you are breathing traffic fumes, delivered nicely cooled.
Air con - Chad.R
Your a/c compressor is a quite demanding unit. ... when the a/c runs full blast all the time this is very noticeable, especially if you have the a/c sent on "recirc".

Why does it need more power when on recirculate mode, isn't the air going to be cooler to start with?

Air con - THe Growler
>>>>Why does it need more power when on recirculate mode, isn't the air going to be cooler to start with?

Because it's working almost all the time (or practically) to keep that air cool.

On fresh setting you can usually hear/feel the compressor cut in and out more often and you may even feel the effect of it doing so on the "feel" of the car, and the air will not be as cool, because it's a mix of "imported" air and what's already inside.

A big hefty V-8 you won't really notice it, but as posters are finding out, on small to mid-size engines you will.

You will also notice much stronger dripping of condensation from the drip pipe when you park up, especially in a humid climate.

Apologies if this explanation is not as coherent as it might be. I think any ex-Middle Easterners around here will corroborate this.
Air con - Dave N
The physics of outside air versus inside air is very straight forward.

If outside air is higher than interior temperature, then it will use more power pulling in and cooling outside air. If interior air is higher than outside, then using interior air will consume more energy. And don't understimate the effects of humidity, as it takes extra energy to remove the moisture from outside air, whereas recirc air is already partly dehumidified.

But in reality, cars are so poorly insulted, and certainly aren't air tight, then it probably makes little difference. Most modern cars actually allow about 25% outside air even when on recirc anyway.
Air con - THe Growler
More thought on this while still in mind.

I just retrieved a case of beer (!) where they're stored from the narrow passageway beside my kitchen and in so doing passed the externally mounted split unit aircon for the kitchen area which is on full blast. It's a 1.5 tonne Koppel so is a fairly powerful unit. Ambient temp tonight out here is 34 C, while kitchen of about 35 sq m (it's big) is freezing, while the maid is glued to the soaps on the TV in there with a blanket over her.

The blast of heat from the aircon unit was quite withering. Get my point? large transfer of heat from inside to outside. Power required to do same. I think that thing runs about 2,000w.

OK OK wake up at the back there, this explains why your car aircon takes power off your engine to do its job. It also explains why my elec bill is so big and why I maybe need to fire the maid.....

Air con - Dave N
Growlers home a/c unit runs to about 2KW, whereas a car compressor runs to about 12KW. That's why it dulls the performance a bit.
Air con - DavidHM
Are you sure all car units take 12 kW? That's about 16 bhp - a massive difference on a 60 bhp Ford Ka, for instance.
Air con - Dave N
Are you sure all car units take 12 kW? That's
about 16 bhp - a massive difference on a 60 bhp
Ford Ka, for instance.

Well, the specific output is about 45,000 btu. I don't know how efficient the compressors are, but Sandens site says they consume about 8HP at 3000rpm. From an post last year, someone worked it out to be about 12KW. I know my small generator has a 5hp engine, and produces 3KW of electricity.

And you are correct, for a small engined car it's a fair old wallop, especially at tickover, as a 60hp engine produces much less than that at low revs. That's why most manufacturers have gone over to variable displacement compressors, so the load is spread a bit more evenly than conventional 'all or nothing' compressors.
Air con - Ian (Cape Town)
But in reality, cars are so poorly insulted ...

I dunno, I insult BMWs, Ladas and Skodas at every opportunity!
Air con - THe Growler
My post on aircon which contained a "how-to" seems to have been deleted or did I not post it right? I though it might have been helpful.

One of the things I would never give up aircon for and what has not been mentioned here is the peace and quiet you get in the cabin.

Another is when it's really freezing out there the aircon and the heater combined together are terrific.
Air con - Dynamic Dave
My post on aircon which contained a "how-to" seems to have
been deleted...

Or even moved to Tech Matters maybe.
Air con - Altea Ego
Given that hot air is less dense and therefore less condusive to aiding combustion, and your aircon is working its guts out like never before, a few horses will have temporarily escaped the stable.


Value my car