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Is it fine to turn on the car air conditioning in winter when it is cold outside

Air conditioning in the car

Many drivers believe that in the cold season, the air conditioner in the car is needed as well as in summer, because it helps to fight fogging glasses. However, the question is not so clear.

In some vehicles air conditioners work in any temperature, while in others they sometimes refuse to turn on at all. So believe many drivers talking about the advantages and disadvantages of different car brands.

Those who use air conditioning in the cold season, say that cooling the car interior is not the only task of the air conditioner. When passing through the air conditioning system, the air flows become dry, and all excess moisture remains on the filters. Then condenses and drains through the drain pipe excess moisture.

For illustration, you can give a simple example. Bottle with cold water, which was taken out of the refrigerator, begins to fog. Due to the fact that the air conditioner blows dry air, its flows can be directed to the opaque window of the machine, which almost instantly becomes transparent.

So where is the truth?

It would be logical to assume that only vehicle manufacturers can confirm or disprove this opinion. The representatives of the producers were approached by the appraisers of cars, to get a clear answer. Strangely, most factories initially claimed that their climate control systems were versatile and worked equally efficiently in all weather and temperatures. That is why we had to ask you a direct question: at what temperature can the compressor in the air conditioning system stop working? The table displays the responses received.

Brand of the carMinimum temperature
compressor function
BMW+1 °C
Haval-5 °C
Kia+2 °C
MPSA (Mitsubishi-Peugeot-Citroen)+5 °C
Nissan-5…-2 °C
Porsche+2…+3 °C
Renault+4…+5 °C
Skoda+2 °C
Subaru0 °C
Volkswagen+2…+5 °C

As expected, all the answers are quite similar. Compressors in air conditioners stop their work at a temperature of about zero degrees. This confirms that in the cold season the air conditioner cannot dry the air.

Incorrect understanding of the climate system is due to the fact that even when the air conditioner is turned on and the indication on the dashboard is correct, the compressor in the system may not work. If you turn off the cooling (A/C indicator is not on), then the compressor does not work exactly. But the activation of this indicator does not indicate whether the compressor is currently functioning or not. Mode A/C is usually useful for those who do not want to catch cold in summer or want to save on fuel.

A/C button in the car

How air conditioners work in cars

To answer more fully on the question posed in the title of the article: «Is it fine to turn on the car air conditioning in winter when it is cold outside?» the operation of the conditioner should be studied. The principle of its operation is quite simple. Compressed refrigerant goes from liquid to gaseous state. And during this process, the temperature drops. This can only happen to certain temperatures. When the thermometer falls below zero, the refrigerant cannot change due to lack of heat. This process is regulated by special sensors, so in winter the compressor in the air-conditioning system simply shuts down. Or does not turn on.

When it is negative temperature outside, the condensate, which is formed during the operation of the conditioner, will simply freeze. And the evaporator will be covered with ice, so the air will stop flowing into the cabin. To put it simply, in the cold season, the climate control system even in the most modern cars works, as in the cars of the Soviet auto industry, for example, in the VAZ. This means that the air conditioner does not work and the cabin heats up the oven, although in automatic mode.

How we used to drive in winter

When cars did not have a lot of electronics, and the cabin climate control system had not been invented yet, car owners used a more affordable but efficient and simple method. To eliminate the problem of fogging the car, drivers used air mass assimilation. Although this scientific term sounds scary, but it is completely easier, than it sounds like.

If it was not possible to get rid of the moist air, the drivers warmed up the interior of the car with simultaneous ventilation. This ensured constant air circulation, because warm air simply absorbs excess moisture. Due to this method, the glass in the car is not fogged.

However, this method has disadvantages. You should understood that in rainy or foggy weather, the car will not flow enough fresh air, which can assimilate the moist air in the cabin.

Turn on the air conditioner in cold weather!

In winter, many people stop using air conditioning, but in vain. It must be understood that the air conditioner will not work under negative temperature. But in a warm garage or an underground parking lot should turn it on sometimes for at least a couple of minutes.

You do not need it for comfortable temperature in the cabin, mostly for the system does not stagnate. After all, the oil in the conditioner over time can flow down. Because of this, the air conditioner parts dry out, start to hold the pressure bad, and increase the wear of components and assemblies.

Also draw you attention on another very useful article about, why the car windows fog up and how to deal with problem.