Air Conditioning Servicing Advice

A blast of cool air may be the last thing on motorists' minds in this winter, but drivers are warned that keeping their air conditioning permanently off during cooler months risks storing up trouble for later in the year.

New research for Kwik Fit, the UK's largest automotive repair company, has revealed that 56% of motorists keep their air-con switched off during the winter months. And for the 43% of drivers who say they turn off their air-con off to save money, this could be a false economy.

Kwik Fit advises that air-conditioning systems are most effective if they are used regularly, and leaving them switched off for whole seasons will reduce their efficiency when hot weather returns. Being unused for months can also lead to a build up of bacteria in the system, as well as the possibility of the seals drying out, leading to a risk of leaks or corrosion.

However, drivers should not only consider winter use of air-con as a way to keep the system in tune for the summer. Effective air-con will help demist windscreens more quickly in winter, as it creates dry warm air rather than the moist air from outside the car.

Almost a third (29%) of drivers who leave their air-con off in the winter say they prefer to open a window or sun roof. However, driving with a window open can be less fuel efficient than using air-con, as it creates more drag and reduces the aerodynamic properties of the car.

Ian Fraser, chief executive of Kwik Fit says: "It may seem odd to be advising motorists about air-con in the middle of a severe winter, but we shouldn't think of it as a summer only option. Effective air-con can help clear windscreens quickly and is important to driver visibility and safety.

"Using air-con frequently helps keep it efficient, but even so, systems naturally lose gas over time and should be recharged every two years. We offer a guarantee to improve a car's air-con performance by 10% or the service is free."

Kwik Fit is currently offering an air-con system recharge and lubrication for a special winter price of just £29 (available until the end of February 2011). A system de-bug, which will help remove any bacteria and unpleasant odours, costs an additional £20. Appointments are usually available on a drive in basis at over 650 centres in the UK.

3 February 2011 Staff

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