Does Outside Temperature Affect Car Air Conditioner?

Car air conditioners are essential for comfort while taking a ride. If you live in an area with changing weather conditions and you're wondering if this affects your car AC, you are in the right place. We have done very comprehensive research to come up with the best reply to your inquiries. 

The temperature outside your car does affect your car's air conditioner. As the temperature changes, there is a contraction and relaxation of the internal wiring of your AC. Auto-technicians have also reported an increase in car AC repairs during higher temperatures.

To learn more about how outside temperature affects your car AC, hang on and keep reading as we would tackle this topic in-depth. 

Woman hand on air conditioner ventilation grille in car. Climate control panel - Does Outside Temperature Affect Car Air Conditioner

How Does Heat Affect Your Car Air Conditioner?

fans in a modern sports car

The air conditioning unit of your car is susceptible to change by weather, just like other physical structures. Research shows that when temperatures are high, the temperature in a car is twice as hot. 

High temperature affects many parts of the air conditioning system. But usually, it is the compressor that is most affected. The coolants would be leaked by the air conditioning system and when it is low, the compressor would not be activated. 

What Affects Car AC Performance? 

The performance of the air conditioning unit of your car depends on the overall state of its components and the temperature or relative humidity of the environment. Other factors that affect your car's AC performance are as follows. 

Quality Components

Your car air conditioner is primarily made up of an outside compressor, an inside compressor, a condenser, a fan, copper pipes, and controls. The air conditioner would also be incomplete without the addition of freon. 

Each of these components must be present and working adequately for the AC to function optimally. If your AC is not working properly, it may be that any of the following components have issues. 

Temperature or Humidity of The Environment

The air conditioning system of your car does not just release cold air to your passenger compartment; it also removes heat. The AC of your car, through its evaporator coils, transmits heat from the compartment of passengers to the condenser, where the heat is contained and transformed into vapor and taken back to the evaporator coils. 

Thus, the performance of the air conditioning system of your car may be affected if the temperature in the environment is high as the AC directs its effort towards removing excess heat from your car. 

Will Car AC Work If It's Cold Outside? 

As mentioned previously, your car's AC works to remove heat from your car compartment, and that increase in temperature means your car's AC has to work more to remove excess heat. You may be wondering if cold outside affects the functioning of the air conditioning unit of your car. 

Your car's air conditioner working when it is cold outside usually depends on the car's model. The air conditioning systems of certain vehicles are designed not to function when the temperature in the environment is below certain levels. Nonetheless, most air conditioning units of most cars continue to function even when it is cold outside. 

Why Does My Car AC Stop Cooling After Some Time? 

Girl driver being hot during heat wave in car, suffering from hot weather, has problem with a non-working air conditioner, wipes sweat from her forehead with tissue. Summer, heat concept.

High or low temperatures can affect the way the air conditioning system of your car functions, stopping it from cooling after a while. Your car's air conditioning system struggles to cool the passenger compartment when the temperature increases. So, it appears that the AC stops cooling after a while. 

On the other hand, extremely cold temperatures may freeze some components of the air conditioning unit of your car, preventing the air conditioning system from cooling your car. 

How Can I Get My Car AC to Cool Better? 

man hand turning on car air conditioning system

There are several effects that the temperature has on the air conditioning system of a car. In a situation where your car's air conditioning system has been affected, and it no longer cools properly, here are certain important tips to keep get your car AC back on track on cooling better:

Using The Shades

Parking under a shade can give your car's AC a break from the heat. An overhead shade may do the job, but windshields and sunshades are perfect. 

Wind Down The Windows of The Car

During hot weather, the air inside your car is usually hotter than the air outside. This is why you need to wind down your windows just before you switch on your air conditioning system so that the fresh air comes into the car and the AC can reach cool temperatures in no time. 

Turn on The AC to The Highest Point

After letting out the hot air, it is important that you switch on your AC to the highest point to maximize its effect. Although, this can lead to higher fuel consumption in some cars. 

Change The Cabin Filter

The cabin air filter prevents the passage of dirt, debris, dust, and other pollutants through the AC into your car. It is susceptible to blockage or dirt. Your car AC might not function optimally due to your cabin air filter being dirty or blocked.

To solve this, you would need to change the cabin air filter. You could do this through a do-it-yourself guide or consult a professional, depending on your car's model. 

Refill Your Refrigerants

Refrigerants are essential to the cooling functions of your car's AC. To keep your passenger compartment cool, your AC expends refrigerants. Your AC may not provide the cool condition required because the refrigerants are low.

Thus, you should examine the levels of your refrigerants. You can do this yourself with the use of a thermometer or an A/C gauge. 

Why Is My Car's AC Weak? 

Woman hand on air conditioner ventilation grille in car. Climate control panel

If the air conditioning system of your car is not producing cold air as it should or is simply producing hot air, it is important that you get it checked, and or require the assistance of a professional. There are several reasons why your car AC may be weak. Here are a few reasons: 

The Charge is Low

The air conditioning system of your car is different from other air conditioning systems in that it needs to be recharged frequently. You can do this with the help of a professional or simply take it to a service center. 

Your AC Actuator is Faulty

An AC actuator regulates the opening and closure of airflow as it receives signals from the thermostat. If your AC actuator becomes faulty, there will be a mixture of the hot air from outside and cold air inside your car.

Your AC Compressor is Failing

An AC compressor pressures the refrigerant before pumping it to the condenser. When your AC compressor is faulty, air would be following through the vent, but the passenger compartment would not be cold. If this is the case, you would need to change the failing compressor. You should visit a professional mechanic to get this done. 

Your Cabin Filter is Damaged

A cabin filter removes dust, debris, dirt, and other pollutants from your car. The pollutants being filtered by your cabin filter may damage it. When this happens, pollutants can then get to your motor fan and condenser and impair them, causing malfunctioning of the entire air conditioning unit.

Your Engine is Overheated

An overheated engine causes a lot of problems to a car's AC. It damages the condenser of the car's air conditioning system and affects the efficiency of the overall unit.

Your Blower Motor or Resistor is Faulty

The blower motor releases air through the ducts of the air conditioning system, while the blower resistor regulates the volume of air passing through the ducts of the air conditioner. The air conditioning unit would become weak if either or both essential components develop a fault.  

Your AC Refrigerant is Leaking

A refrigerant maintains the cabin in cool temperatures. Your car's AC being weak signifies that your AC refrigerant is leaking. There are several reasons why this may occur, but the most common reason is damage to the AC unit due to an accident. You can examine your refrigerant to see if it needs repair. 

How Often Does Car AC Need to be Recharged? 

Color detail with the air conditioning button inside a car, shot with very shallow depth of field

How often you need to recharge the air conditioning system of your car depends on use, the regular temperature, and the model of the car.

You would need to examine your air conditioning unit from time to time to measure its health.  However, it is generally recommended to recharge the air conditioning unit of your car every one or two years

To Wrap Up

We have provided you with the necessary information about the effect of temperature on the air conditioning system of your vehicle. With this, you can take the appropriate measures to make sure your AC functions at its best capacity. 

To learn more about ACs, we recommend you read these related articles:

Why Does My Car Air Conditioner Only Work on High?  

Car Air Conditioner Turns Off and On - What Could be Wrong? 

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