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the air con is not reliant on the ambeint temperature outside the vehicle - and it should be used both in the winter and the summer, the compressor fitted works equally well when heating up the interior as well as cooling it down. The worst thing to do is leave it switched off throughout the year and only use in the summer - as Ian S says it is a great demister......the refrigerant used in the system also carries a lubricant for the air con system so to keep it all effective it shoud be used as ofen as poss.....
 

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Agreed Ronnie- it is the lubricant within the gas that keeps all the seals in good condition - should you ever run out of gas - get the system pressure tested before you go for the re-gas - otherwise the refridgerant will slowly evaporate.... your air con should blow ice cold within 2 mins max - if it does'nt then do not leave it running in the hope that it may 'kick in' if it is out of gas then you will burn out the compressor.

To check if the clutch on the compressor is engaging you should notice (at idle) a slight drop in revs as the engine takes up the load when the air con is switched on. On some cars you can actually hear an audible 'click'. this is useful if the system is charged fully (is fully gassed) but air con not working.
 
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