Counting the cost of keeping cool

Posted on September 4th, 2012 by Rob Marshall

Counting the cost of keeping coolAlthough the summertime weather has been somewhat variable so far this year, at least we have been treated to a few hot days. Even so, most drivers have thumbed for the little A/C button on their cars’ fascia at some point over the past few months.

Unfortunately, for many people who do not use the system regularly, it is possible that button depressing would have been met with zero response. According to Warranty Direct, under-use is the most common reason for air conditioning systems to break down, leaving owners with an average repair bill of £426.00. In total, the warranty company has calculated that British motorists spend a combined £102 million annually on having their cars’ air conditioning systems repaired.

With owner neglect being the most common reason, it would be unfair to blame the individual car manufacturers entirely for faulty systems. However, Warranty Direct’s own study, which involved 50,000 of its own policies for cars aged between three and seven years-old, revealed that the SEAT Alhambra (from 1996) is the most prolific model that experiences air conditioning failure, followed closely by the Porsche Boxster (2004-2012 models) and the Volvo C70 (from 2006).

Although air conditioning failure tends not to result in a roadside breakdown, it can be expensive to repair. Replacing an air conditioning condenser and pipe on my own vehicle recently cost £220.00 in parts alone, excluding labour and refrigerant recharge fees. Yet Warranty Direct claims that costs can be as high as £2,300 and has detailed the costs it has paid out for the most popular manufacturers below:


Make Largest air-con claim   (£)
1 Porsche 1,325.32
2 Seat 435.32
3 Chrysler 1,013.10
4 Saab 1,476.80
5 Jaguar 988.05
6 Mercedes 2,968.52
7 Renault 921.60
8 Skoda 637.94
9 Ford 511.91
10 Vauxhall 1,641.93

To help owners and drivers understand the benefits of using air conditioning regularly and how to keep it in peak condition, view the latest in our series of technical articles.