air recirculation button in car

The purpose of the air-recirculation button in your vehicle

Air recirculation logo

When the weather heats up and it’s time to turn on your vehicle air-conditioning there’s one button you may not know how to use. Have you seen the button in your car that shows an arrow going in a circle? That’s the air-recirculation button. Although some drivers know what it’s called many don’t know what it’s for! If you’ve ever wondered why it’s there and what it does – read on, you’ll be glad you did!

What does the air-recirculation button do?

The air recirculation button effectively cuts off the outside air to the inside of the car ‘recirculating’ air inside your vehicle.

What the air-recirculation button is used for:

• Boosting your AC to help your cabin get as cold as possible as quickly as possible
• Stopping pollution & exhaust fumes ie. in a city center traffic jam, entering your cabin
• Reducing pollen when driving if you suffer from hayfever
• Stopping strong outdoor odours entering your car such as sileage

Some new cars do not have an air-recirculation button. This is because modern vehicles are often equipped with sensors that monitor the cabin air and moisture levels, adjusting the “air-circulation” automatically.

The benefits of the air-recirculation button

  • The air-recirculation function ensures your AC works to the optimum level, allowing your vehicle to get as cold as possible as quickly as possible.
  • It helps stop pollution, smells and pollen from entering your cabin
  • It helps keep your air-filter cleaner for longer
  • It reduces strain on your AC system
  • It helps reduce fuel consumption by assisting the AC system
lady driving in summer

When to use the air-recirculation button

  • When using AC
  • In summer & hot weather
  • In dense traffic to stop pollution entering the cabin

If you’re driving in a heatwave you should turn on your AC & your air-recirculation ON to ensure your air-con gets as cold as possible as quickly as possible.

If you don’t switch the air-recirculation button on then your air-con will be constantly cooling warm air from outside your vehicle and will have to work much harder, putting more stress on the blower & air compressor.

It works by recirculating the cool air you get from your A/C when you first turn it on. The longer it’s on for, the cooler your vehicle will get! If you don’t use it, the car will use the air from the outside that is a lot warmer, and your A/C will work harder and continuously to cool the hot air.

If your AC has to work harder, you’ll increase fuel consumption and your cabin won’t reach its optimum level of coldness from the air-con system. You will also be putting undue wear-and-tear on your A/C compressor.

When not to use air-recirculation

In winter and cold weather.

As a general rule, when it’s cold outside make sure the recirculation button is switched off!

The air-recirculation button is best to use alongside your AC during warm weather. During cooler weather it doesn’t have many benefits and can even be detrimental.

Some drivers think it makes sense to not have “all that cold air coming in” if they are using heaters in winter. However, in reality it’s best to keep it switched off. The standard “fresh air” mode forces the outside air through your heater core so it’s nice and toasty before it reaches you, and your windows will de-fog a lot quicker and stay that way while you drive.

foggy windscreen
driving car in winter

Disadvantages of the air-recirculation button

The main downside of the air-recirculation button is that it traps humidity inside the car, which results in misted windscreens, especially when the air is cold outside and in wet weather.

  • It can cause your windscreen to mist up
  • It can trap humidity in the cabin
  • If your vehicle is fully loaded with passengers, it can cause it to be stuffy and may make you drowsy

If you need any advice on getting your air-conditioning working to full please contact your local branch or call the team on 0345 2997 955

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