How Does a Car Air Conditioning System Work?

Due to the climate change, summers are getting hotter and hotter. Sometimes, the heat can reach a point where driving your car can be unbearable. Thankfully, modern vehicles and even used Japanese car specs have reliable air conditioning that will keep the journey cool and comfortable. Amidst the scorching heat of the sun, you’d definitely be thankful that Packard introduced this technology in 1939. Keeping a properly functioning air conditioning unit is definitely one of the most important ways to ensure a comfortable drive under the sun.

What are the Functions of a Car Air Conditioning System?

Air conditioning systems in cars serve two main purposes:

  • Cooling the air which enters the passenger compartment.
  • Removing the moisture from the air, making it feel more comfortable inside the vehicle.
  • In various units, the air conditioning starts to automatically cycle when you choose the defrost setting. What it does is take get rid of the humidity coming from the windshield, consequently improving visibility. Usually, when the defrost setting is selected, the system does not need cold air. This is also the reason why you should know even when you choose the heat settings on the controls, the air conditioning is still functioning.

How Car Air Conditioning Units Work

In general, air conditioning systems operate in the same way. Here are the common components you will find in most makes:

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Evaporator
  • Expansion valve or orifice tube
  • Receiver drier or accumulator

The refrigerant is a type of gas that keeps the air conditioning system pressurized. The amount of refrigerant used to fill the system depends on the type of vehicle. In most passenger vehicles, about three or four pounds of refrigerant is used.

The compressor does what its name denotes. The refrigerant is compressed from a gaseous state into a fluid with the help of this component. The fluid is then cycled inside a refrigerant line. This point is commonly referred to as the high side because the fluid is subjected to high pressure.

That procedure is then followed by the process that takes place inside the condenser. The refrigerant goes through a radiator-like grid. The condenser then lets air pass through it, removing the heat from the refrigerant. After that, the refrigerant moves to the orifice tube or expansion valve. A restriction or valve in the tube lowers the line’s pressure, allowing the refrigerant to return to a gaseous state.

However, the refrigerant’s journey does not end there. It will then enter the accumulator or receiver drier. This is where a desiccant removes the moisture that was carried in with the refrigerant in a gaseous state.

Still in its gaseous form, the drier refrigerant passes into the evaporator, which is the only part of the air conditioning system that can be seen in the passenger component. The air blows through the evaporator core while the heat is removed from the air. It will be transferred into the refrigerant, allowing cooler air to pass through the evaporator. The refrigerant cycles to the compressor once more, continuing the process repeatedly.

Air Con On or Windows Down?

Should you keep the air conditioning system running or should you roll down your windows? Well, if you’re not certain which to choose from the two, you should how important fuel economy is to you. It is true that air conditioning will ensure your comfort when driving on a hot day. Some used Japanese car specs even have controls for the blowers and temperature.

On the other hand, when you keep your windows down, you won’t be able to control the wind strength. It can also be blustery and loud in the cabin and the faster you drive, the worse they get. It is also worth noting that when you’re driving at faster speeds, having the windows down makes your vehicle less aerodynamic. This ‘dragging’ effect uses more of your fuel than the usual.

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