If You Use Your Car's Air Conditioning in This State, Turn It Off!

If You Use Your Car's Air Conditioning in This State, Turn It Off!

The heat of summer is just around the corner, and most us will be using air conditioning in our cars, but you need to be careful when turning it on for the first time.

Temperatures could easily soar in the coming weeks, you will no doubt be reaching for the air conditioning to make your drive's more comfortable. Before you do, there could be something deadly waiting for you.

If you haven't used your A/C for a while you might be exposed to a bad smell, or worse when you turn it on for the first time. It is recommended to give your air conditioner a thorough clean, otherwise it is best not to use it, as it could be dangerous for your health. 

So why should you clean the air conditioner? In one word: bacteria. The air conditioner's heat exchanger condenses moisture as it cools. While some of this water drains out through pipes beneath the car, a portion remains on the heat exchanger and evaporates when the air conditioning is turned off. This creates a moist environment within the ventilation system, the perfect environment for bacteria. When you next use the air conditioning, this bacteria is blown into your car along with the cool air.

If there is a musty smell when you turn on the air conditioner, it's a clear sign that the system needs cleaning.

  • Disinfecting your car's ventilation system at least once a year is crucial. Remember to replace the pollen filter, as a clogged filter can obstruct air flow and allow dirty air to enter.
  • Service centers often use a spray with a long tube attached to the nozzle, which they insert into the vents and spray while pulling it out. This effectively cleans and disinfects the system.
  • Disinfectant sprays kill bacteria, viruses and any odors. These should be used with the engine running, air conditioning on full, and the ventilation system set to recirculate.
  • Neglecting air conditioner cleaning can lead to significant dirt buildup on the heat exchanger, forming a moss-like mold layer that can only be removed by disassembling the ventilation system and removing the heat exchanger.

A contaminated air conditioning system can cause "air conditioning lung," characterized by fever, shortness of breath, and cough. This condition is a hypersensitivity pneumonia resulting from an allergic reaction to fungi growing in the stagnant water of the air conditioning system.

The most severe risk is Legionnaires' disease, caused by the Legionella pneumophila bacteria. However, it's reassuring for drivers that these diseases can only be contracted from regular air conditioning systems in buildings, according to pulmonologist-allergist Dr. Sándor Egerszegi.