Air conditioning quiz: will you keep your cool?

Turn up the air con to max for our cunning quiz (Picture iStock/Bernie-Photo)

We take air conditioning for granted now that it’s fitted in even the cheapest cars. But how much do you actually know about it? And will some of our questions about what keeps you cool make you all hot and bothered? Take our air conditioning quiz to find out.


You’re a pretty cool customer. And you know a fair bit about car air con too. Well done!

Don’t get all hot under the collar! This was a tricky quiz and you didn’t quite make the grade. Better luck next time.

#1. About how much gas does even a healthy car air conditioning system lose every year?

Even though air conditioning systems are sealed units, they still lose around 10% of their gas every year. This seeps out through seals and other joins in the pipework.

#2. When was air conditioning for cars first offered?

American company Packard first offered air conditioning as an option on its cars in 1939. But it was expensive, adding $274 to the car’s price tag when the average annual income in the US was $1,368.

#3. What part of a car’s air conditioning cools warm air?

It’s the evaporator. This vital component lives behind the dashboard in most cars and is like a small car radiator. As air passes through it, heat is drawn from it. The cooled air is then pumped back into the car’s cabin.

#4. You should only use air conditioning in the summer

That’s a resounding ‘false’. Air conditioning is very handy in the winter. Conditioned air is dry air and as such it helps clear condensation quickly. In addition, turning air-con off in the winter can mean parts such as seals dry out causing the system to leak when it’s turned back on.

#5. What does the top illuminated button in the picture do?

It’s designed to recirculate air around the cockpit. This is particularly useful if you’re following a smoky vehicle, in a polluted city centre or want to warm up or cool down a car’s interior quickly.

#6. How frequently do garages suggest car owners re-gas their air con?

Car makers and garages encourage people to have their air con re-gassed about every other year. The longer you leave it to have the job done beyond this time, the less efficient your air con will be.

#7. Does air conditioning use less fuel than having the windows open?

Neither having air con on or the windows open is brilliant for a car’s economy. But a study by the Society of Automotive Engineers found that below 45mph it was more fuel efficient to have your windows open. Above that speed, drag (the car’s wind resistance) increases making air con more efficient.

#8. If you see liquid dripping from your car’s air con system you should...

It’s perfectly normal. The liquid is water that the evaporator has pulled out of the air that passes through it.

#9. Why do garages suggest cleaning your air conditioning system?

Air conditioning is the perfect environment for bacteria: warm and damp. As a result bacteria grows over time and can cause a bit of a pong. When garages service the air con, they should use a disinfectant to kill this bacteria.

#10. The AMC Ambassador was the first car to have air con as standard. What year was it?

Most air conditioning milestones are from US car manufacturers. In this instance, American Motors Corporation (AMC) was ahead of the game, offering its 1968 Ambassador with air con as standard, ahead of luxury brands such as Cadillac and Lincoln which only gave it as an optional extra. At the time the move was regarded as game changing.


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