The Hidden Dangers of Air Conditioning in Your Car

DGT Recommendations For Safe Driving In The Heat

Car air conditioning. Credit: Monika Wisniewska/

Are you turning off your car’s air conditioning before shutting down the engine? If not, you might be causing more harm than you realise.

During the sweltering summer months, the use of air conditioning in cars is highly recommended by the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) and the Real Automóvil Club de España (RACE), reports OK Diario.

The Dangerous Effects Of Heat When Driving

They stress that driving in temperatures above 35 degrees can cause drivers to miss up to 20 per cent of traffic signs, and recommend maintaining an internal temperature of 21 to 23 degrees for the well-being of all occupants.

‘Excessive heat takes its toll on the driver: it increases fatigue and reduces reflexes, so it takes longer to react and more mistakes are made. According to some studies, with high temperatures, the risk of an accident increases up to 20 per cent,’ warns the DGT.

Look After Your Car

However, it’s crucial to turn off the air conditioning before stopping the car. The air conditioning compressor requires a significant amount of energy, and leaving it on can excessively strain the battery, shortening its lifespan.

Additionally, failure to turn off the air conditioning can lead to the accumulation of humidity in the ventilation ducts. This can cause costly breakdowns, as condensation produced during compressor operation may accumulate in the pipes, leading to deterioration over time.

The best practice is to turn off the air conditioning a few minutes before reaching your destination. This allows the battery to recover properly and the humidity to dissipate.

The DGT also offers four recommendations for safe summer driving. Firstly, properly prepare the vehicle, paying attention to the tyres and fluid levels. Secondly, plan to avoid driving during the hottest part of the day. Thirdly, take breaks every two hours. Lastly, wear good sunglasses to avoid glare.

While air conditioning is essential for comfortable and safe driving in hot weather, it’s equally vital to remember to turn it off before stopping the car. This simple action can prevent potential damage to your vehicle and ensure a safer driving experience.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.