When car air-conditioning goes wrong

Modern cars are amazing in that they provide you with clean and safe environments in which to drive. They also include plenty of gadgets and facilities that make them a world away from what cars were like, even 10 years ago. In fact, one of the most advanced elements of a car is it’s air-conditioning. The car air conditioning unit and structure within your car is a sophisticated instrument, but when it goes wrong, some people are still unaware of how to spot the signs that tell them that a repair is needed.


As your car ages, there may be a situation where smells come through the air conditioning unit. This may also be the case when you don’t use your car air-conditioning much. Some people don’t, and after a while they notice some odd aromas coming from just behind the dashboard. The smells are not very pleasant at all, and they are due to something that some people refer to as ‘sick car syndrome’.

Sick car syndrome happens when bacteria, mould and fungi begin to grow just behind the dash panel and as part of the air conditioning unit. This is why the smells that come out from the car are so unpleasant. Some people suffer flu like symptoms when this particular smell emanates from the dashboard. So it could actually affect your health too.

A way around this is to use an antibacterial treatment that gets rid of any growth behind your dashboard. You can buy these from any good car parts or car service outlet.

When your car just isn’t cool enough

No, we’re not talking about your street cred. Instead, when you fire up your car air-conditioning system, your car may not feel as cool as it used to. In fact, it may feel downright warm. A good way to see if there’s a problem here is to compare your car to a friend’s car.

If your car doesn’t feel as cold as your friend’s car when the air conditioning units are on, then there could well be a problem. The only answer here is to arrange for a servicing.

Your cars air-conditioning system is serviced by refrigerant gas. This gas depletes over time. With most cars, this could mean a loss of up to 15% air-conditioning effectiveness per year. The main reason for this is that a car’s air conditioning system is not used during the winter.

This is why it is always worthwhile having a service. A good service provider will check for leaks in the system, and then provide a refill of your car air-conditioning refrigerant. If your car does not feel as cold as it used to, this could well be a symptom that your air conditioning system needs to be serviced.

A lack of activity

If you don’t run your air-conditioning all year then there could be a problem. During the winter, whenever there is a chance to do so, as in it’s not too cold, run the system to make sure that it is well lubricated and protected from leaks. This keeps the seals and the hoses moist. If the seals and the hoses are kept moist, this will stop them from drying out and consequently cracking, which leads to leaks. Leaks lead to a warmer car, and the general deterioration of the system overall.


So there are three clear symptoms that show you that your car air conditioning unit needs to be checked and serviced as soon as is possible. Don’t ignore the symptoms, because air conditioning can be expensive if it’s not dealt with effectively and professionally.

Simon Parker

Director & Partner of Cool Car Limited. Owners of CoolCarAirCon.co.uk and AutoAirConParts.co.uk.