Why Giving your Car AirCon a Blast in Winter is not as Crazy as it Sounds

Author: Rob Mobberley

A blast of cold air may be the last thing on your mind at the moment, but keeping your air conditioning permanently off during winter could be storing up trouble for when the sun eventually does come out. 

New research for Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive repair company, has revealed that 56% of motorists keep their air-con switched off during the winter months.  And for the 43% of drivers who say they turn off their air-con off to save money, this could be a false economy.

Air-conditioning systems are most effective if they are used regularly, and keeping them switched off for long periods will actually reduce their efficiency in the hot weather, when they are needed most. 

And if you have ever had the misfortune to get a whiff of  a “smelly sock” odour, emanating from your cars ventilation, this is as a result of a build up of bacteria in the system over a period of not being used. And I can say from experience of my first ever car with aircon – it is not very pleasant at all. But it was a lesson I quickly learnt about keeping the aircon system regularly in use and serviced.

From the research conducted by Kwik Fit it would appear almost a third (29%) of drivers who leave their air-con off in the winter prefer to open a window or sun roof.   However, driving with a window open can be less fuel efficient than using air-con, as it creates more drag and reduces the aerodynamic properties of your car.

Ian Fraser, chief executive of Kwik Fit is quoted as saying: “Using air-con frequently helps keep it efficient, but even so, systems naturally lose gas over time and should be recharged every two years.”

Whilst Kwik Fit is currently doing a winter special offer on an air-con system recharge and lubrication and a system de-bug, which will help remove any bacteria and unpleasant odours, it is now possible to clean and de-odorize your system on your drive or in your garage with an Car Aircon Odour Eliminator.

The research mentioned above was carried out amongst 2000 UK adults, for Kwik Fit by ICM.


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  • I agree that air conditioning systems have to be used regularly in order to be fully effective.