2008 Toyota Prius Seaside Pearl
Peter Neilson's picture

Quick Tip To Help Get Your Toyota Prius A/C Max Cold

Summer is here there is no doubt about it. If the A/C in your Prius does not feel as cold as it could, here is a tip to help you feel chilly all summer long.
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Summer heat is brutal on humans, and getting into a hot car only makes matters worse. Last I checked, no one wants a vehicle that does not cool properly.

With threats of heat waves all across the nation, our air conditioning needs to perform. So I thought of a quick tip anyone can do to help maximize your A/C output and hopefully keep it nice and cool.

First, you need a lesson in heat exchangers. Unfortunately, I do not directly connect with Engineering Explained's (which I would like) Jason Fenske. Therefore, I will have to do my best to help those reading how your A/C works.

How Your Car A/C Works
The Toyota Prius (and just about every other car A/C system I have ever encountered) works straightforwardly. Through a series of pumps, heat exchangers, and valves, we can achieve cold air.

A heat exchanger is a radiator in your Prius. The condenser, which is part of your A/C system, is a different kind of radiator. When the "freon" or refrigerant is channeled inside it, air moves through the fins, and because of thermodynamics, heat is extracted.

If you want to know more on the subject, let me know but to save a lot of time, just know some science is going on. The condenser is only one part of the A/C, though. The other parts, the compressor, evaporator, and some other parts, all work in conjunction to take the refrigerant around through the system and make cold air.

There is one crucial thing that I want to point out. We need to focus on the condenser, and knowing where it is placed can help you keep your A/C cooler.

Why Is The Condenser So Important?
The condenser is an essential part of A/C system health. If air cannot pass through the condenser, heat cannot be removed from the refrigerant passing through it. If that cannot happen, the cooling in your cabin will not be very effective.

The condenser is vulnerable, though, because of where it is placed. It is stationed in front of the car, typically in front of the radiator. So, over time as the car gets driven and all sorts of garbage see its way into the vehicle's front, the condenser has a more challenging time passing air through it.

A/C condenser Prius

So what does that mean? Remember how low airflow cannot remove as much heat? So, bingo, your A/C cannot cool as well.

What To Do About It
There are a few things you can do to help your condenser flow better. First, if you have plenty of money, you can get a new one. Second, if you have plenty of time, you can take off the front bumper cover and dig out all the dirt, bugs, and other debris.

Cleaning out the fans by backwashing the condenser will also help them cool better. Remember, we want to maximize airflow.

Conclusion
If you feel your Prius A/C lacks just a bit, I would start with your condenser. CLeaning it is free but takes some time. Have a professional also test your system out. Sometimes lack of refrigerant can also be a factor in warmer than usual air too.

Be sure to have all your systems dialed in before taking off on a road trip. No one wants to sweat out a long drive, and no one needs to if your car is working correctly.

Thanks, everyone, for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the following article. Remember, Today's Adventure is Tomorrow's Story.

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporter.


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