We all love getting into a cool car on a hot day.  However, our pleasure can be tainted with guilt about global warming.

Catherine Tocker from CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre says there are two things you need to know about how your car’s air conditioning is affecting the environment.  Firstly, it’s true that refrigerant is bad for the environment when used irresponsibly.  Secondly, car owners need to make sure their air conditioning systems are maintained properly and regularly to keep refrigerant inside the system where it belongs.

“In the early 1990s the refrigerant being used at the time, R12, was phased out because it was discovered it was contributing to the hole in the ozone layer,” says Catherine. The refrigerant it was replaced with however has another bad property.  It’s a potent global warming substance.

“You might think the amount of refrigerant in a car is not a big deal because it’s a small volume,” she says.  “It may be only 500g.  But it’s 500g of something that’s got a global warming potential of 1400.

“That means that if you released the refrigerant from that car twice, which happens if it develops a leak and loses the refrigerant it came out of the factory with, then someone re-gasses it without addressing the reason that it lost its refrigerant in the first place, you’ve released a kilo of refrigerant.  That’s equivalent to releasing 1400 kilos of CO­2. And that is a big deal.”

Catherine says modern air conditioning systems are less likely to leak as manufacturers become more aware of the need to manage the environmental impact.

However, she says many people make the mistake of thinking their air-con problem can be fixed with a “re-gas”.

“If anyone re-gasses a car for you without addressing the fact that refrigerant should be there, if they tell you it’s normal for it to be low on refrigerant, that’s misleading,” says Catherine.

“It’s better for the environment, for your fuel economy and for the air conditioning system’s wear and tear, to get small leaks fixed promptly.”

If you’re concerned about your car’s air conditioning system or would like to find out more about what you could be doing to save money, fuel and the environment, call CoolCar Air-Conditioning on 0508 266 5227 or call in and see them at any of their five Auckland sites, or in Hamilton.  See the website www.coolcar.co.nz for more information.