AKRON (Aug. 28, 2006) — Cleaning a vehicle's air conditioner evaporator is a valuable, practical service for tire dealers and service shop operators to offer year-round.
What's more, improved cleaning equipment may help technicians do the job better.
The air conditioner's evaporator is a finned heat exchanger inside or under the dashboard. The evaporator removes heat from the cabin air as the fan pulls that air across the fins. Plus, moisture in the air condenses on those fins and airborne dirt sticks to them.
Although most of the moisture drains out of the evaporator case, the evaporator remains damp or wet much of the summer—especially in more humid climates. Eventually, the airborne dirt accumulates on the fins, restricting air flow and reducing air conditioning performance. Worse yet, leaves, evergreen needles, etc., get into the fins and decompose there. The result can be a moldy or swampy odor that permeates the vehicle.
The risk of evaporator odor is greater in higher-humidity climates, but this smell can persist year-round because the air conditioner often operates in colder weather, too. (In de-frost mode, the air conditioner may dry the cabin air before the heater warms it and the fan blows it at the windshield.) In some cases, this witch's brew of damp, decaying material physically sickens some motorists or else aggravates existing conditions such as allergies or respiratory ailments.
Experience shows that spraying deodorizers or household disinfectants into the dashboard air outlets is only marginally effective. Typically, the best approach is to access the evaporator case and spray a professional-grade cleaner directly into it.
Traditionally, the typical evaporator cleaner/deodorizer/disinfectant has come in an aerosol can with a long, flexible spraying nozzle of some kind. The aerosol can technique may beat the odor once and for all. But sometimes a diminished odor remains or returns within several weeks.
Specialty tool and equipment maker Vacula Automotive Products takes a more aggressive approach to the problem with its Deo Wash cleaner. I saw this product demonstrated at an automotive trade show and then tried it on several vehicles this summer.
First of all, the product doesn't tie you to potentially costly aerosol cans. Instead, it has a refillable reservoir. Compressed air siphons the cleaner from the reservoir and then propels it through a spraying tool into the evaporator case. The tool features a long hose fitted with a nozzle that sprays the cleaner straight forward as well as around it.
In my estimation, this tool design surpasses the aerosols by supplying volume, volume and more volume of cleaner. According to Vacula's literature, the product en-dures because when it's used properly, it actually coats the evaporator fins.
Granted, my experience was only a few vehicles. But in each instance the Deo Wash nixed the odor and the smell hasn't returned. Several technicians who worked with it said they like the product's relatively neutral, slightly citrus-like odor.
They argued that the less noticeable the product's odor, the less risk of complaints that the treatment is too perfume-like for the motorist's liking.
Check it out and let me know the results because the Deo Wash approach may signal the future for efficient and effective deodorizing services.