When things start hotting up on the road again and the sun begins to beat down on the windscreen, an air-conditioning system is what you really need. But it not only provides cool air in the driver's cab. It is also not to be underestimated when it comes to safety as the scientists at the University of Wuppertal (Germany) proved some time ago. On behalf of the Federal Highway Research Institute, they analysed the relationship between interior temperature and accident risk. The result: even at an interior temperature of 27 degrees, the risk of an accident in a built-up area increases by eleven per cent. At 32 degrees, there is an almost 25 per cent greater risk. The reasons are obvious: you get tired more quickly at higher temperatures and your concentration consequently diminishes.
An air-conditioning system as a bacteria trap
A well-functioning air-conditioning system is therefore important for safety and well-being. The operative word here being "well-functioning". If the air-conditioning system is not properly and regularly maintained, it poses a massive health risk. This is mainly because of the so-called evaporator, an important component in the air-conditioning system. It becomes moist during operation, which then, in combination with the dark and humid environment inside the system, forms the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. These enter the passenger compartment through the air circulation and can cause watery eyes, a dry throat, sneezing and coughing.
How to clean up the air-conditioning system
With regular attention, you can prevent your air-conditioning system from becoming a bacteria incubator. Specialists therefore recommend carrying out an air-conditioning check on commercial vehicles every six months. In addition to a visual inspection, the function and performance are also to be checked. Because if refrigerant escapes through a small leak, the cooling function is restricted - which means that the air-conditioning system is increasingly less able to perform its actual function. You will notice when driving that the cooling capacity is reduced. During the air-conditioning check, the cabin filter is also replaced, the capacity of which is usually exhausted after six months. Furthermore, the evaporator is cleaned and disinfected to remove bacteria and fungal nests. Moreover, anyone who has an air-conditioning service carried out once a year will also, in addition to the refrigerant, have the filter dryer replaced. The latter is a further building block that contributes to ensuring good air conditioning in the vehicle interior.
It's worth it for everyone involved
Unfortunately, air-conditioning inspections are still all too often not taken seriously enough. A comment often heard is that the refrigerator at home, after all, does not need any such service. That is correct and, as regards the basic principle, both pieces of equipment work in the same way. However, while the refrigerant circuit of a floor-standing appliance is extremely compact, in a vehicle it runs over much longer lines, which increases susceptibility to bacterial growth. In addition, the constant vibrations of the engine, the shaking of the vehicle and also the strongly fluctuating outside temperatures all play their part in bringing about a significantly higher probability of malfunctioning.
However, the most important aspect remains that of health. As drivers, this concerns you directly - and one other thing that cannot be forgotten: if a problem occurs, the downtime costs of the truck are significantly higher than those of an air-conditioning check.