If I don't use AC, will there be no AC maintenance?

My first couple vehicles were driven for years, and they did not have air conditioning. During Summers, I parked in the garage at home and then parked at work in a covered parking structure. When I parked at a store, I used a window reflective shade. I never felt the need for AC. I live in an area with comfortable summers; only a dry heat. The window down with the dashboard fan is fine for me.

I recently bought a new car which has AC. I don’t plan on using it. Do I still have to get the AC serviced? i.e. Will it need fresh refrigerant so it doesn’t go putrid or clog the system?


No, you won’t need to have the AC serviced or have fresh refrigerant. However, you should turn the AC on for a short time every so often throughout the year. This will help keep the system working properly. The compressor seals can dry out and crack if you never use it.

Eventually enough refrigerant will leak out (its impossible to seal the system perfectly at the factory) that the AC will stop working due to low pressure and you will need a recharge. This typically happens after the car is 10+ years old.

Also be aware that when you select “defog” to direct vent air onto the windshield, most cars automatically turn on the AC to help remove moisture from the windshield. So even if you don’t turn the AC on directly, the car will most likely use the AC on the “defog” setting.

You’re using the A/C whether you know it or not. Whenever you turn on the defroster or heat/defrost mix, the air conditioner is running. So it’s been on all winter already.

Going on a different topic here, but why wouldn’t you use it? It’s there and it doesn’t cost anything.

+1 for asemaster. I’ve been telling people about this for years.

Honda Guy, since you have purchased a vehicle how about asking Carolyn to close your related car search threads?

I hope you’re aware that in many cars putting the window down at highways speeds leads to worse fuel economy than running the air conditioner, due to the aerodynamic disturbance.

What sort of service are you asking about? I’ve never seen a car that required replacing refrigerant as part of scheduled maintenance.

As others have said, it’ll be running part of the time anyway, and is great to have in the winter and when windows fog. No $ saved by not using it, you’ll need to service it when it stops cooling.

Here’s a related question, from someone who also feels no need for AC in a car. It used to be the case you could save $$$ in a big way by not buying AC, but now you have to buy AC even if you don’t want it.

So here’s the question: If OP truly doesn’t want to use the AC, would it make sense to remove the AC compressor from the drive belt routing? It seems like it would reduce the engine load, albeit slightly. And the OP could sell the new OEM compressor and pocket some cash. Might make sense to remove the evaporator too, make the radiator more efficient in cooling the engine. And sell the evaporator too In my way of thinking, OP could reduce the weight of the car, improve the mpg and longevity of the engine, and come out of this deal with several hundred dollars in his pocket!

I don’t use my AC either. I have nothing against AC, I just prefer fresh air.

The reason you have to buy AC even if you don’t want it is that manufacturers figured out that it’s actually cheaper to just install it in every vehicle as a part of a standardized manufacturing process than to try to not put it in the small percentage of vehicles that they’d have to make without it. Many years ago manufacturers began to build the ductwork and electrical harnesses AC-capable for those that wanted it… but eventually almost everyone wanted it, and they realized it made no economic sense to only put it in the cars of those that specifically ordered it.

George, I assume this is a feeble attempt at humour , what you suggest will void the warranty, and reduce the value of the vehicle and if the owner ever has to go through Death Valley to reach a vacation site they will wonder why did I do that.

And who would buy an AC compressor that an owner removed from his car? Not me! I’d wonder whose car it was actually from and if they’d discovered it missing and filed a police report yet!

It seems wasteful to lug around a heavy compressor and have the evaporator blocking the free flow of cooling air in the engine compartment, if you simply don’t want to use the AC function.

Volvo … I’ve driven through Death Valley and between Las Vegas and LA many times without AC.

Edit: MTB, good point. But if I offered up the AC compressor to my trusted mechanic and he had a customer who wanted it, since the mechanic trusts me I didn’t steal it, or maybe he removed it himself from my car at my insistence, why wouldn’t he use it for his customer who needed a replacement unit? The alternative would be a very expensive OEM unit, or risk a cheap rebuilt unit from China. To me, the choice would be clear.

And one other advantage of removing the AC compressor and evaporator. Easier to service the engine for the rest of the life of the car. Might save a lot of time for the owner-diy’er.

That might work for someone like me who keeps a car until the life has been sucked out of it, but for most, I suspect it would reduce the resale value of the vehicle more than the value of the compressor.

But perhaps the important part of the suggestion is to realize that it wouldn’t hurt the car and would reduce load on the crankshaft. Doing so is a totally personal decision.

Years ago I was riding with a friend in his 1963 Mercury Meteor. We ran into a heavy rain and the windows fogged up. This was in the mid 1960s,when air conditioning wasn’t common in my part of the country but this Mercury did have it. I suggested to my friend that he turn on the air conditioning. The windows cleared up immediately. My friend had the defroster on, but in those days it didn’t turn on the compressor. I now regard the air conditioning as a safety device as well as a comfort device.
Since cars are no longer equipped with vent windows, air conditioning is almost a necessity. The first car I owned without vent windows was a,1968 AMC Javelin and it didn’t have air conditioning. It was very uncomfortable in hot weather. Even in the 60s cars were designed to have air conditioning.

If I was looking at a used car, and saw that the owner removed the AC compressor,evaporator, condenser, hoses, etc. . . .

I would look at the guy and say “Are you kidding me?”

I wouldn’t make any kind of offer on the vehicle

Not even an outrageous low ball offer

I would walk away, and would mention that car on this website


Removing A/C components would be insanity. Do that, put the car up for sale about June 1st, and see how many people walk off or hang up the phone when told this.

Even on a new car and with the A/C never in use the point could be made that A/C maintenance is going to be necessary at some point.
A home central unit will not lose refrigerant or refrigerant oil unless there’s a bad solder joint with a pinhole in it.

An automotive unit is going to lose a little from the start due to rubber seals and non-soldered connections. Losses would go from not detectable and meaningless at first to where did the cold air go half a dozen years later… :smile:

You will need that AC in your new car. Cars aren’t made the same as they used to be. Older cars that did not have AC had large vents that let a lot of fresh air into the car and they had a heater control valve in the hot water line before the heater coil. You could drive comfortably in 80+ weather with just the vents open.

Now the heater core always has hot coolant in it and the outside vents are much smaller. Even with the blend doors closed, there is quite a bit if radiant heat inside the cabin from the heater core and the little outside air coming in is not enough to overcome it.

You will find that you need the AC on even at temps as low as 65F if you are driving in the sun.

Even if you’re the most die-hard sun worshiper that isn’t fazed by 100+ degree temps, you can’t tell me that there is never a time you would use the A/C. Such as when you’re not feeling well, are stuck idling in traffic on a blazing summer day with no airflow, or are on your way to a job/interview/formal dress occasion where you don’t want to show up dripping with sweat. Or how about if you’re driving with PASSENGERS that might not be as tolerant of the heat?

The last time I visited Texas it was 103. The only vehicles I saw with the windows rolled up were ones where the A/C was obviously broken, and the drivers looked pretty dispirited.

Agreed . . .

Don’t make your passengers suffer in sweltering heat, just because you want to be a cheapskate

They might not want to ride with you again. They might want to stop being your friend