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A Cool History on A/C in Automobiles

first automobile with ac

When you get into your car that has been baking in the summer heat of a supermarket parking lot for the past two hours, the first thing you do is crank up the air conditioning and try not to burn yourself on the seatbelt as you buckle up. You probably don't stop to consider what you would have done if your car was not air conditioned, or how it came to be that way. The history of A/C in automobiles, though, is quite an interesting one.

The first automobile manufacturing company to have air conditioning was Packard in 1939. However, for a number of reasons, it did not do well on the market, especially considering it was an expensive, flawed option in cars that most post-Great Depression American consumers did not want to invest in. It was therefore discontinued in 1941. Cadillac experimented with air conditioning in 1941, which was also rather unsuccessful.

Then, the Chrysler Airtemp was introduced in 1953. This system was more successful than Packard's or Cadillac's previous models because it was most effective and activated with a switch on the dashboard with three levels of power, closer to today's A/C systems in cars.

A year later, the Nash integrated system became the first heating, air conditioning, and ventilating system. Where most systems used a separate heating system, the Nash integrated system was unique in its dual nature and found success because of it.

Car coolers with evaporative cooling were popular up until the 1960s. They were the most successful in drier parts of the United States because they relied on low humidity, but until interior air conditioning systems were improved upon, car coolers were a sufficient way to cool a vehicle.

From there, air conditioning in cars continued to evolve into what we have today. Modern air conditioning units in cars run on power consumption, using horsepower from the engine to cool the vehicle. Although most days, we do not think much of our car air conditioning unless it is not functioning properly, modern car air conditioning was derived from various types of air conditioning systems over the years before it came to where it is today.

Did you know there is a proper procedure for the installation of O-Ring A/C fittings?

The first thing to do is to inspect fittings to be used to ensure they’re free of contaminants and/or damage. This is very important to ensure not only a leak-free seal but to prevent from contaminating newly installed or cleaned components.

Even the most minor dirt or contamination on o-ring seats can prevent a fitting from sealing once tightened. Imperfections in the o-ring seat such as this can prevent a fitting from sealing or cause an o-ring to split once tightened.

Next, lubricate the o-ring by rubbing a drop or two of oil on the surface until there is a light oil film over the entire o-ring. Install the o-ring to the o-ring bump and connect the fittings.

This is where many people unknowingly get into trouble. Contrary to popular believe, o-ring fittings don’t require significant tightening. Over-tightening can cause many problems, but the most common issues that arise from over-tightening an o-ring connection is splitting an o-ring. This can happen right away, or sometimes later on down the road.

The general rule for properly tightening an o-ring fitting is hand-tight, plus a quarter turn.

Connect the fittings and tighten by hand. Once completed, use two wrenches, positioning them ¼ turn apart [show starting position of 12 o'clock]. With both wrenches held at the 12 o’clock position, hold one in place and tightening to the 3 o’clock position with the other wrench.

Keep in mind that because “hand-tightening” can vary from person to person, it’s essential to do a thorough leak-check once the initial system charge is added to the system, and once again after fully charged. A minor adjustment to fitting tightness may be necessary.