The sun’s scorching hot outside and your car’s A/C is blasting, but still, you feel warm. At what temp should air be coming out of car vents? How do you know if your car’s air conditioning needs service? This guide will help you learn about the ideal auto air conditioner temperature and adjust your car’s air conditioning accordingly.
How cold should the A/C in your car be?
Updated car models come with standard air conditioner units rather than just a car heater. Previously, vehicle makers relied on the car's engine to provide power to the A/C, but nowadays, more vehicles come with electric-powered A/C. This type of A/C avoids draining power on the engine.
A car’s air conditioning system should work efficiently, and this means to cool you down when it gets warm. As a rule, the warmer the ambient temps outdoors, the warmer the air moving in the cabin of the vehicle coming from the A/C. An A/C’s thermal efficiency falls as the air that enters the system increases.
To check out if your A/C is warm or cold enough, you need a special thermometer attached to a long probe that can be placed in the center air ventilation system located on the car’s dashboard. You can purchase this kind of thermometer from automotive parts stores. This kind of thermometer is also used by automotive technicians to evaluate the efficiency of car air conditioning units.
Test your car’s A/C using the long probe thermometer
- Move your car to an outdoor area where there is no direct sunlight.
- Take the temperature from outside your car.
- Sit in your car and close all windows and the air vents. Leave the center vent open; this is located on the car’s dashboard.
- Start the car’s engine and turn up the A/C to the coolest setting while the fan is operating at the slowest possible speed.
- Place the long probe thermometer inside the central air vent. Wait a few seconds, and then check your reading.
Take note: if the outside temperature is at 90 Fahrenheit or 32 Celsius, the thermometer reading in the car should be from 40 to 50 Fahrenheit or 5 to 10 Celsius.
What temp should air be coming out of car vents? Anything higher than these temperatures is a sign that your car's air conditioning system needs to be serviced by a certified auto air conditioning technician.
Your A/C cold enough?
If the temperature taken is higher, then your car’s A/C may not be efficient to cool your vehicle. If you have a new vehicle, or a car that’s just a year old, failing A/Cs need to be inspected by a professional or an accredited air conditioning specialist by your car dealership.
If your car is older, then there could be several reasons why your car’s A/C is not cold enough.
- Loss of refrigerant
The refrigerant is a compound in a gaseous or fluid state. It absorbs heat from the surrounding environment and provides air conditioning and refrigeration when it's pumped into evaporators or compressors. Because it's very important in an A/C's function, loss due to leaks can lead to poor function of the A/C.
If there is a hose or seal failure, then the refrigerant may leak. Also, the oil that lubricates the seals in the cooling system may dry out, and this may let the refrigerant escape from the system.
- Clogged refrigerant hose
The air conditioning system of your car is made up of a network of hoses and tubes, including an expansion tube or a charging hose for the refrigerant. Anything that clogs the system may affect the flow of refrigerant and eventually affect the way your A/C cools your vehicle.
- Failing compressor or compressor clutch
A poorly performing compressor or compressor clutch will also affect your air conditioner's efficiency. This can be determined by a car A/C technician.
- Failing motor blower
The A/C’s blower moves with the use of a motor. If this motor fails, then cold air won’t be efficiently distributed out of the unit to cool your vehicle.
- Vacuum leaks
Any leaks in the system or any failed fuses can lead to a poorly-functioning air conditioner. You can easily replace fuses, so this is very easy to fix. Take note that you should find leaks in your car’s cooling system early. Moisture can travel through the opening, and if this is overlooked, your system can become heavily damaged.
How to get the proper auto A/C vents temperature?
Now that you know the cause of poorly-functioning ACs let’s find out how to get colder AC in car. A new car will have an efficient AC. It can take two to three years before a car air conditioner may need servicing, but if you use your car less, it may take longer.
So the first rule is to have your car A/C maintained by a certified car air condition specialist. A professional will help you clean your car A/C and inspect all the components to ensure proper functioning. A specialist will also find early signs of A/C wear and repair these right away.
Don’t pre-cool your car’s AC. This system works better if you’re driving because the faster your car’s engine turns, the faster the compressor works. If it’s too hot inside your car, start the fan when you start to drive. Open the rear windows for about 10 to 25 seconds. Doing this will force the hot and humid air out.
Use the lowest temperature setting and just adjust the fan. Turn off your AC’s recirculation mode if you have back passengers. Always make sure that the AC’s filter is clean because a dirty one can block airflow.
Now that you know what temperature should air be coming out of the car vents, you may detect early any signs of A/C problems. For any problems with your A/C, contact a reputable professional car A/C technician.
James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.