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View Full Version : Tips on driving with A/C on?



stratofortress
08-30-2013, 04:39 PM
I know this is a problem with cars with small engines and even worse if you have a standard. It's getting to the point where I'm trying to avoid driving the car when it's excruciatingly hot just because I know I'm destroying my clutch with A/C on - it really is like driving a whole different car for me.

Other than winding out the gears more, shifting faster and getting on the gas quicker, any tips so I can enjoy my car even if it's deathly hot outside? I've searched the internetz for info and only found one thread on a completely different forum.

While on the topic of shifting, what RPM are you usually doing your 1-2 at without A/C?

enginethatcould
08-30-2013, 06:02 PM
I don't drive differently. Reading about it here is the first time I've ever given it even a thought, actually.

I just drive. :)

wilbmeister
08-30-2013, 06:14 PM
I don't drive differently. Reading about it here is the first time I've ever given it even a thought, actually.

I just drive. :)

Same here.

eedwards
08-30-2013, 06:16 PM
Other than winding out the gears more, shifting faster and getting on the gas quicker

Wait...you have an Abarth and this is an unusual driving mode for you? :) I have a Pop - and this is how I drive with the A/C on.

I wouldn't buy a car if I couldn't use the A/C from April until October. I can see how using the car might use up the clutch, but that is a wearable part. Just replace it when it is time. As long as you aren't causing the car to jerk around when you shift, you should be fine. Or are you speaking of the A/C clutch? It is made to turn off and on constantly-that is well within its design. I don't worry about it.

redred
08-30-2013, 06:30 PM
I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Abarth (not sure about the Pop, Sport or Lounge) will shut the A/C off under WOT pulls.

stratofortress
08-30-2013, 06:50 PM
Wait...you have an Abarth and this is an unusual driving mode for you? :) I have a Pop - and this is how I drive with the A/C on.

I wouldn't buy a car if I couldn't use the A/C from April until October. I can see how using the car might use up the clutch, but that is a wearable part. Just replace it when it is time. As long as you aren't causing the car to jerk around when you shift, you should be fine. Or are you speaking of the A/C clutch? It is made to turn off and on constantly-that is well within its design. I don't worry about it.No I'm talking about the clutch pedal.

I think I just need to give her extra gas before I engage the clutch fully to offset the power loss.

DuckDodgers
08-30-2013, 06:54 PM
No difference for us in Texas...same throttle A/C on or off.

JoeB
08-30-2013, 07:00 PM
I have the automatic climate control, which I leave on all the time. In today's high heat I noticed some bogging in normal mode because the A/C was blasting the whole time. Pushing the Sport mode completely over-rode any extra stresses from the A/C compressor.

Seafarer61
08-30-2013, 07:14 PM
Down here in south Florida, I keep the a/c on during expressway runs with sport mode engaged but usually only leave sport mode on if five-lane traffic is heavy. In city driving, I engage sport mode and leave both it and the a/c on. I average 31.7 mpg from week to week. If I have the a/c on but sport mode not engaged in the city, it's a dog off the line unless I get heavy footed. No use doing this when sport mode activates the throttle position sensor which helps to get the car moving. During brutally hot days, I'll engage my Go Pedal and the car just flys off the line, even with a/c on but mileage dips to 30 mpg in the city.

stratofortress
08-30-2013, 08:53 PM
Aha! Like I mentioned in another thread, I keep sport mode off most of the time.

Looks like if I engage sport mode then it essentially negates the power loss from A/C...I'll give that a shot :)

msjulie33
08-30-2013, 08:58 PM
Aha! Like I mentioned in another thread, I keep sport mode off most of the time.

Looks like if I engage sport mode then it essentially negates the power loss from A/C...I'll give that a shot :)

Maybe it's universal; my 500 is more forgiving with the AC on then my 200hp MINI Cooper... that car has no guts down low and the AC feels like a boat anchor. The 500 is no rocket of course, but it seems less boat-anchored with AC on. I do always drive with sport mode and my 500 does not have the benefit of a turbo either :)

Indie500L
08-30-2013, 09:12 PM
Turn off the AC button when you are accelerating then once up to speed turn it back on and keep it in recirculate and don't run the fan at too high a setting so you give the AC a chance to dry the air out more in the car thus making it cooler to you at least. Also close the vents to the parts of the car where no one is sitting or aim them at you. I know in my 500L it doesn't cool anywhere near as well as my friends Scion xB.

enginethatcould
08-30-2013, 09:50 PM
Sounds pretty complicated... for just driving.

stratofortress
08-30-2013, 10:42 PM
Turn off the AC button when you are accelerating then once up to speed turn it back on and keep it in recirculate and don't run the fan at too high a setting so you give the AC a chance to dry the air out more in the car thus making it cooler to you at least. Also close the vents to the parts of the car where no one is sitting or aim them at you. I know in my 500L it doesn't cool anywhere near as well as my friends Scion xB.Hah I was doing that for a while but it's probably better for me to practice in the long run so I'm not distracted with flipping the A/C on and off depending on my speed.

But totally agree with you on the temp. Max cold? More like lukewarm! My Benz would blow ice cubes if it wanted to...

Abarth619
08-30-2013, 10:46 PM
When needed I just put the AC on and drive. If you drive any other way, you're causing yourself unnecessary discomfort and stress. Cars are engineered to drive with the AC on without causing damage.

JoeB
08-30-2013, 11:01 PM
Yeah, these cars don't have much A/C to speak of compared to the last few I've owned; it's the one nod to old Fiats I've been able to find so far. The "automatic climate control" label on my Abarth is a cruel joke. ;)

Abarth619
08-30-2013, 11:08 PM
Yeah, these cars don't have much A/C to speak of compared to the last few I've owned; it's the one nod to old Fiats I've been able to find so far. The "automatic climate control" label on my Abarth is a cruel joke. ;) I've never had a problem with my climate control meeting my expectations. Then again I don't live in California where I'm sure it gets way hotter than Rhode Island.

JoeB
08-30-2013, 11:17 PM
I've never had a problem with my climate control meeting my expectations. Then again I don't live in California where I'm sure it gets way hotter than Rhode Island.

I'm being a bit hyperbolic (it's a thing with me). The A/C's not terrible, but it's weak compared to what I'm used to.

onederer
08-30-2013, 11:20 PM
Turn off the AC button when you are accelerating then once up to speed turn it back on and keep it in recirculate and don't run the fan at too high a setting so you give the AC a chance to dry the air out more in the car thus making it cooler to you at least. Also close the vents to the parts of the car where no one is sitting or aim them at you. I know in my 500L it doesn't cool anywhere near as well as my friends Scion xB.

that's pretty much what I have to do with my WRX. Accel. from a stop with the AC on is like I'm towing a tanker ship...on land...made of clay...on Jupiter.
So, when I know the light is 'bout to go green, I hit the AC button and suddenly I.AM.ROCKETSHIP.

The WRX is gutless down low too. If I am about to come to a stop at a light and it suddenly changes, if my revs are under 3k I can floor the gas and I would get passed by a Smart Car, towing a tanker ship...on land...made of clay...on Jupiter. Until I hit 3500 or so, then it gets peppy again.

RustyPaint
08-30-2013, 11:25 PM
No problems here in the south AZ heat. I guess I just got used to it will all my other cars feeling like they lost a cylinder with the A/C at full blast in 110 deg heat. I do agree that the sport button just about makes the car like in non-sport with the A/C on. I also find that if I let the turbo spool up a bit before I give it the beans (ease off the line then hit it), it makes the power loss more manageable. Out of the three other cars I've owned in AZ (including a super charged MINI cooper S), the Abarth has the least hit from running the A/C. The MINI would get stuck in "no torque land" in 1st gear between spooling up the SC and the A/C, I could get out the car and walk faster.

Indie500L
08-31-2013, 12:27 AM
The other good question is the condenser in front of or behind the intercooler ?

We test drove a black 500 L with the white roof on a 85 degree day and it just did not get cool in the car with the a/c running which is why I got a white one. It helps a little on hot sunny days but there is a lot of glass that is hard to cool.

johnnyquest
08-31-2013, 01:14 AM
No problems here in the south AZ heat. I guess I just got used to it will all my other cars feeling like they lost a cylinder with the A/C at full blast in 110 deg heat. I do agree that the sport button just about makes the car like in non-sport with the A/C on. I also find that if I let the turbo spool up a bit before I give it the beans (ease off the line then hit it), it makes the power loss more manageable. Out of the three other cars I've owned in AZ (including a super charged MINI cooper S), the Abarth has the least hit from running the A/C. The MINI would get stuck in "no torque land" in 1st gear between spooling up the SC and the A/C, I could get out the car and walk faster.

When I test drove an Abarth in Tucson last month it was 108 outside. Had the AC on full blast, I didn't think the car was affected that much. Of course I did have sport mode engaged. But like you said, I think when you live in the desert for a while you get used to the fact that the heat will affect how any car performs when the AC is on. I'm getting mine in November.

JQ

hownowcb
08-31-2013, 11:38 AM
There seems to be a wide range of opinions on the subject of Fiat 500 AC. The multiple Abarths I test drove during the hottest portion of Minnesota summer last year convinced me to get the Auto Climate Control, because in my opinion, the system worked flawlessly. I'd never driven a car that didn't literally stumble when the AC compressor kicked in, but the Abarths' didn't! And I've owned V-8s that choked when the AC kicked in at highway speeds.

Non-residents especially, think Minnesota has only cold to offer, but this past week we just had seven days in a row with 90-99 highs, plus saturation point humidity, so I find it difficult to believe conditions are any worse at or over 100 with low humidity. Even in spite of the glass sunroof, neither my wife nor I has ever felt the AC in our Abarth wasn't up to the task.

What's surprised me the most, though, is almost never actually being able to detect when the compressor kicks on or off. I did NOT expect that from a motor so small, and have never experienced such a smooth transition in any other AC equipped vehicle I've ever owned, no matter which make or motor size.

It's funny, I guess, because in the last few days maybe I have thought there was some more pronounced "turbo lag" when launching from a dead stop. In reality, it was probably the added burden from the AC. Still, it's never approached anything like the "boat anchor" effect I've felt with any other car. And since the heat has the same effective burden on all the other traffic around me, it's rare that I have the urge to use the Sport button to compensate.

Indie500L
08-31-2013, 01:40 PM
Reading the technical information about the AC temperature monitoring it measures the temperature with heat sensors from the module under the rear view mirror to control how much cooling each side of the dual zone system puts out.

Also when slowing down or going down hill you can crank up the fan and lower the temp to increase engine braking and get some free energy back as cool air.

JoeB
08-31-2013, 02:26 PM
There seems to be a wide range of opinions on the subject of Fiat 500 AC. The multiple Abarths I test drove during the hottest portion of Minnesota summer last year convinced me to get the Auto Climate Control, because in my opinion, the system worked flawlessly. I'd never driven a car that didn't literally stumble when the AC compressor kicked in, but the Abarths' didn't! And I've owned V-8s that choked when the AC kicked in at highway speeds.

Non-residents especially, think Minnesota has only cold to offer, but this past week we just had seven days in a row with 90-99 highs, plus saturation point humidity, so I find it difficult to believe conditions are any worse at or over 100 with low humidity. Even in spite of the glass sunroof, neither my wife nor I has ever felt the AC in our Abarth wasn't up to the task.

What's surprised me the most, though, is almost never actually being able to detect when the compressor kicks on or off. I did NOT expect that from a motor so small, and have never experienced such a smooth transition in any other AC equipped vehicle I've ever owned, no matter which make or motor size.

It's funny, I guess, because in the last few days maybe I have thought there was some more pronounced "turbo lag" when launching from a dead stop. In reality, it was probably the added burden from the AC. Still, it's never approached anything like the "boat anchor" effect I've felt with any other car. And since the heat has the same effective burden on all the other traffic around me, it's rare that I have the urge to use the Sport button to compensate.

My recently traded Chevy HHR SS (2 Liter Turbo 4) had amazing A/C with no effect on power, and a completely invisible on/off transition. The car was also crazy fast (250 HP), but unfortunately the engine and its accessories were the only good thing about it. I'll miss the power and excellent A/C (and auto trans in heavy traffic), but the rest of that rattle-bucket slowly shaking itself apart...not so much ;)

cmj912
09-01-2013, 09:11 AM
I feel that for a diminutive 1.4 liter engine shoehorned into a space smaller than an old-school microwave the air conditioning is pretty good. Leaps and bounds above my Fit, which consistently required being on max/recirc in order to cool the car properly. In the summer I fool around with the temperature and air direction (sometimes I want to be cold, other times I just want to NOT be humid) but in the winter I just put it on auto and set it and forget it.

BillE
09-01-2013, 09:54 AM
There seems to be a wide range of opinions on the subject of Fiat 500 AC. The multiple Abarths I test drove during the hottest portion of Minnesota summer last year convinced me to get the Auto Climate Control, because in my opinion, the system worked flawlessly. I'd never driven a car that didn't literally stumble when the AC compressor kicked in, but the Abarths' didn't! And I've owned V-8s that choked when the AC kicked in at highway speeds.

Non-residents especially, think Minnesota has only cold to offer, but this past week we just had seven days in a row with 90-99 highs, plus saturation point humidity, so I find it difficult to believe conditions are any worse at or over 100 with low humidity. Even in spite of the glass sunroof, neither my wife nor I has ever felt the AC in our Abarth wasn't up to the task.

What's surprised me the most, though, is almost never actually being able to detect when the compressor kicks on or off. I did NOT expect that from a motor so small, and have never experienced such a smooth transition in any other AC equipped vehicle I've ever owned, no matter which make or motor size.......

Even living in GA and previously in SW Florida, our experience is similar. We hardly notice when the AC compressor turns on/off regardless of whether the car is in sport or normal mode. (Our AC is manual.) This is in contrast to most of our other previous cars (LOTS of cars!). For example, when the AC came on in the 2010 Mazda MX-5 (Miata Gran Touring, manual transmission and limited-slip), there was a very pronounced (and somewhat annoying) 'kick'. I had thought that the greater the engine displacement, the less noticeable the kick would be. So, with the Miata having been 2 Liter, I am happily surprised that it's virtually unnoticeable with our Abarth.

Fiat500USA
09-01-2013, 10:32 AM
Hi BillE,

Great seeing you again and meeting your wife at FFO! Looking at that list of cars you've owned reminds me of vent windows and "flow through" ventilation that were the big selling points on the cars back then! Now we're talking about how seamless the A/C operates. If that's not progress, I don't know what is!

Indie500L
09-01-2013, 11:57 AM
Something that could be happening here is with the larger displacement engines they put in a much bigger compressor so it becomes more noticeable and with the smaller Fiat's that you guys are driving in the hot climate, it could be that the compressor never turns off so you don't feel it kick in and out. Try stopping the car in a shady area with the wind blowing into the radiator and sit there for a while until the car cools down and then you may notice the compressor kicking off and on. The throttle computer may actually compensate very well for the compressor load so you may not actually feel it.

Fiat500USA
09-01-2013, 01:14 PM
if you leave the car idling long enough you can hear the compressor cycle on and off. It is noticeable standing outside the car but not so much inside. The ECU compensates for engine load and adjusts accordingly, that is one of the reasons why you don't notice the cycling on and off.

b56.1m6
09-01-2013, 01:45 PM
I had my car out today with near 90 temps and humidity near 100% and I never had a problem with my auto climate, in fact I kept turning it up. 75 degrees was great with no power loss really felt. I did notice that off the line power did start to fall off when driving in traffic with start and stops. Once I was back on the road and got the air moving thru the inter cooler it powered back up. I have to agree with others here that this car deals pretty dang well with the A/C and power I only notice the compressor kicking on and off when I am outside the car or when turning on the system in the garage. As far as the clutch I really don't feel much or any difference with A/C on?

BillE
09-02-2013, 02:15 PM
Hi BillE,

Great seeing you again and meeting your wife at FFO! Looking at that list of cars you've owned reminds me of vent windows and "flow through" ventilation that were the big selling points on the cars back then! Now we're talking about how seamless the A/C operates. If that's not progress, I don't know what is!

Yep, progress it is.....one of many :thumbsup:

Thanks, Chris. It was really nice seeing you again too. And thanks for continuing to have the best enthusiast site I know of as well as your own postings with thoughtful, even-keeled, helpful commentary. SpinningSmiley

davidjon_99
09-02-2013, 03:11 PM
I have no problem with the A/C in my nero Abarth. Works a whole lot better than the A/C in my Envoy XL and my wife's white Jetta. Here in Houston I use A/C at least 11 and 3/4 months out of the year. Sometimes just to get the humidity out of the car.

melanzane
09-02-2013, 09:27 PM
Here in Houston I use A/C at least 11 and 3/4 months out of the year.

I think in many parts of US. The AC gets used more than 50% of driving time. I wish car mags would post 0-60 times of all tested cars with AC at full blast and coldest setting.

I bet the power losses would be comical.

Robert Nixon
09-02-2013, 10:28 PM
Finally read this thread, and can't believe we're talking a bout how the car drives with AC!

If it's hot, turn on the AC. If your car loses power getting on the highway, turn AC off until you accelerate. The only car I've had where this was really bad was an 88 Nissan Sentra--it just didn't have much power.

If you're still hot, do the recirculate thing.

What I like about the Abarth is that the interior space to cool is small, so I think it works pretty well.

The one fact I can't change is getting into the car at the end of work, when it's been sitting in a parking lot with no shade all day. Those leather seats retain some heat, so if I'm thinking about it I use a windshield screen or cover the seat with a towel.

Life is too short to drive around worrying about how long the AC unit will last.

Juair
09-02-2013, 10:33 PM
Finally read this thread, and can't believe we're talking a bout how the car drives with AC!
x2

I have bought a 2012 Fiat 500 Sport in 2011 and after 2 years i never have trouble with the AC on with a car that have only 101hp...................many car have less power than the abart (kia,hyundai,ford,etc....) and i never see trouble with the AC ON this car.Now on my new Abarth AC ON or OFF change nothing on the little beast!!!

SLOWAbarth
09-03-2013, 10:08 AM
No I'm talking about the clutch pedal.

I think I just need to give her extra gas before I engage the clutch fully to offset the power loss.

So, your revs are dropping in between shifts? I'm guessing you can feel the "glunk" feeling when you release the clutch after going from one gear to another?

I did a whole track session, full throttle to full brake for 30 mins straight in Texas heat, 105degrees, with the AC on ( I forgot it was on )...

A couple of things that I did that fixed what I think you are feeling, I have the forge actuator cranked up that my turbo spools sooner (I don't need sport mode for city driving anymore), so the car is make boost quicker and the NEUF short shifter helped. I still think there is a disconnection with efficiency in these drivetrains. I drove the MINI Cooper GP all weekend and it doesn't shift like our cars, it can convert the energy quicker.

ashurjames
12-09-2014, 02:45 AM
Sounds pretty complicated... for just driving.