Air-conditioning and cabin filters are generally considered summer or warm weather items, however they can be more useful in the winter in cold, damp conditions than driver realise. A cabin filter in good condition is essential during the winter months. A good, clean cabin filter and working air-con will help to quickly clear misted-up windows, therefore increasing road safety during cold, damp conditions and reducing journey times.
While most workshops will focus on the “Usual Suspects” of battery condition and strength of antifreeze during a winter inspection, most will overlook checking the condition of the cabin filter and the air-conditioning system. The cabin filter is important as it maintains the air circulation inside the cabin, which can affect the function of the heater and air-conditioning. The checking and regular replacement of the cabin filter is an essential maintenance step for workshops especially as part of a winter inspections.
Replace: Cabin Filters
This is where the advice given by the workshop to the customer can play an important part. Although more drivers are aware that cabin filters are able to protect against pollen, dust, and in the case of activated charcoal cabin filters, also against some toxins and odours, most of them are unaware that they can also prove invaluable during the cold, damp months. The volume of external air that is passing through the cabin filter can be up to 150 litres every second, therefore a heavily soiled cabin filter could reduce quality of the air circulation, which is vital in the quick de-misting of windows.
Most drivers when confronted with misted-up windows would turn up the heater and put on the air conditioning (as this helps removes moisture from the air), to speed up getting a clear view. An unsoiled cabin filter also supplies the heater and air conditioning system with clean air, which can help enhance their performance and service life. By advising the replacement of the cabin filter during a winter inspection, workshops not only provide comfort and safety for the winter months, but also into spring and summer as well.
Recharge: Aircon Gas
Most drivers think that summer is the time to check their air-conditioning system is operating well, but given the way the weather has been this year some people may have forgotten to get it checked. Like all things on a vehicle, regular checks will make sure that it the air-conditioning is working at an optimum level when needed most. It is advised that the air-conditioning system is recharged about every 2-3 years to keep it operating correctly. This is because the gas escapes from the system over time.
The rate of loss can increase by not using the air-con due to the seals in the system shrinking leading to a drop in pressure which could result in a loss of efficiency. While this drop in efficiency may go unnoticed during a typical British summer, once the cold and damp weather arrives, drivers will notice that de-misting is taking longer. So again this is where the recommendation given by the workshop to the customer is important, as air-con checks are not part of most services.
Air-conditioning systems, like cabin filters, can offer workshops a great additional revenue stream, but to do the job fully requires investment in equipment and training. However there is a way that workshops unsure of putting the investment need in can offer a basic service to their customers. Through low-cost air-con ‘Recharge’ aerosols, any workshop can offer an re-gassing service with a small initial outlay. Ultimately the service a workshop can offer with a ‘Recharge’ aerosol is limited, but it does offer a route in to air-conditioning servicing, a “Try before you buy” option if you like.
Refresh: Aircon System
There is one last item which ties in nicely with the cabin filter and air-conditioning on a vehicle and it is a great little profit opportunity as well. Refreshing the air vents with an air-con system cleaner. These aerosols can help effectively eliminate bacteria, fungi, moulds and viruses from the air-conditioning system, which cause unpleasant odours and other allergic reactions. During the winter months the damp and warm conditions inside a car could be a perfect breeding ground for these ‘little nasties’.
These air-con cleaners can eliminate those elements as well as deodorising the upholstery and carpets to give back that new car smell. To carry out the refreshing of the vehicle with one of these aerosols normally takes about 10 minutes and the customer should notice a difference when they get back inside their car.
Altogether these three things can make big difference the your customers driving experience during cold, damp times ahead, and these are probably more beneficial on an everyday basis than some of the normal items checked during a winter inspection. So when putting together a winter checklist remember the three R’s: Replace, Recharge and Refresh!