Best A/C for hot climates

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All I can say is, I remember the days of my old man's early 80s GM boats with R-12. Traveling on summer trips, it was like riding in a meat locker!

A/C just isn't what it used to be.
Originally Posted By: edwardh1
Do people who live in hot climates say like Texas or Palm Springs find that some car brands have better A/C?

Get a Town Car,Grand Marquis or Crown Victoria.
Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
All I can say is, I remember the days of my old man's early 80s GM boats with R-12. Traveling on summer trips, it was like riding in a meat locker!

A/C just isn't what it used to be.

It was cold but the engines were boiling over. Catch-22. At least mine was.
Most cars nowadays have larger window areas. On top of that, those window areas are more angled thus allowing more direct sun in. This makes is all the more difficult to cool the cabin. Window tinting helps a bit. Also, stay away from black cars. :)

A lot of cars seem to struggle with cooling if you're not moving much (like when stuck in city traffic). It's usually not a problem on the hwy at steady speed.
Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda and Nissan products tend to have the best reputation for the most efficient air conditioning at this end. Since Mercedes started using Japanese sourced compressors, they've been right up there too.

GM products had a brilliant reputation once, before the switch to R134a. Ford products seem to use Korean sourced compressors, which are pretty good as well. But Fords don't really seem to cool down as nicely when the temperature is upwards of 118 F. Don't know if it was the compressor or the condenser fan motor, but even when the vehicle's in motion it doesn't make much difference.

Having said that, the best way to make the most out of your air conditioning is to roll down all the windows and set the AC to the lowest fan speed for a minute or two. Hot air rises, so once most of it leaves the inside of the vehicle, the AC tends to be more efficient when turned up. Automatic temperature control is only useful once the interior has cooled down a bit, otherwise it doesn't do anything.
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
A lot of cars seem to struggle with cooling if you're not moving much (like when stuck in city traffic). It's usually not a problem on the hwy at steady speed.

That would be the condenser fan motor. If the vehicle isn't moving and the AC blows hot air, give it some gas for a minute or so. If it then starts blowing cooler air, that is your problem. Very common issue here actually. In fact, it's a part that gets replaced on a yearly basis, and it's nice when your vehicle's under warranty.
Like the above post said--town car, or crown vic. Or anything with R12. Town cars have a stun setting, I swear.
Hondas have the weakest AC in my opinion. American cars have the best, due to refregerant volume and compressor size. American SUVs are also blow very cold, but have more solar heat coming in and more interior area to cool, but once cooled down get the job done.
Just about any regular cab pickup with tinted windows is an instant freezer.
Even better if it still has a well maintained R-12 system.
My aunt used to have a 97 or 98 Nissan Quest that was cold enough to turn the condensation on the vents into ice crystals. This happened at night though.

My dad's 00 Quest still blows really cold air and it hasn't ever had the refrigerant recharged.

In hot areas like FL, you really need tint though. My mom's Camry blows cold air but it doesn't have tint so there's still a lot of heat coming in, especially in the back seats. Doesn't help that the car is a dark red.
On my recent road trip to Tennessee, my dark grey car with tinted windows handled 78-85 degree heat with high humidity nicely. I use a front sunshade (and put one in the back window, too!) to keep the direct sunlight down while the car is parked, and aim to park in shade whenever I can.

When I start the car, I drive for a minute or two with the windows down, then I close 'em and click the temp control down to its lowest setting, 60, on recirculate. As I cool off, I bump it up to the high 60s. A couple of times on the trip, I was chilly in a short-sleeved shirt, and that was with sunlight coming in.

As for other marques, I thought my '84 and '86 Benzes really had to work hard to cool me off. The '97 C230 was fine, though. The little 1.6L Ford Escort was decent. Only the '94 Olds Cutlass seem to have underpowered A/C, but that was in the early days of R134 units, and it worked fine out in Colorado where the humidity was extremely low.
Having finally converted all my cars to R134A I can only remember what it was like to take your ride down to the A/C & Radiator shop in mid-August and have them "service" the R12 system :evacuate, check for leaks, add a couple lbs. of FREON (GASP!) for $29.95 + $10-15 per lb. for FREON (GASP!)...

Best AC I ever had was a '73 Ford Country Sedan Wagon. On max cool, it could blow out white smoke, like from a deep freezer. Icy cold all the way to the tail gate on the hottest days and it never leaked. But with the tailgate window and all door windows down, you had "5/60" air and rarely needed ac anyway. Next best was a '90 Chrysler. Notably, both were R-12 systems. I also recall a few mid-'70s GM and Chrysler/York systems being pretty good. The GMs had low dash vents shooting down on the front vinyl seats, and on the hottest days, you sure did need them.

All the R134 systems we've had have been acceptable, but nothing like the best R-12 systems of the old days. Best of the newer systems we had was a '00 Chrysler LH sedan, which had good, strong volume.
The absolute best car AC I ever experienced was the first-gen Chrysler LH car (1993 Eagle Vision TSi) that was my wife's car for 15+ years. I think they erred on the side of oversizing the system because it was the first year of R-134a, and also the first year for the "cab forward" Chryslers with huge glass area. The compressor was a Denso with the mid-swash plate design and 7 dual-acting pistons. The radiator/condensor had dual electric fans that had two speeds, and high would practically suck rocks up off the pavement. The cabin fan high speed would create a small hurricane inside, too. The total system power was comparable to a 5-ton home AC system. It did have some early problems reliability-wise (corrosion through the evaporator- a known issue on those cars, which resulted in a slow loss of oil and a seized compressor) but after fixing those problems, it gave another 10 years of compeletely trouble-free service.

Historically, I'd have to give the "best AC" award to 60s-70s Fords that used the indestructible York twin-cylinder compressor. Those would shrivel you up *any* day of the year. Historic worst had to be the early Japanese imports. GM was hit-and-miss. They worked when they worked, but the small oil reservoir on the old Frigidaire A6 just didn't make for longevity. Pre- 1980 Chryslers with their coroporate V2 were also great, but they tended to use EPR valves for evaporator temperature regulation. Those are inherently slow to respond, so initial cool-down after being parked in a hot parking lot could be slow. I modified two of those in my vintage Mopars to cycle the clutch based on evap temp, and removed the EPR valve. After that, they cool as well or better than the old York/Fords.

I rent about 6-12 cars a year on business trips, and honestly I see much less variation in brands these days. The ACs are all pretty good, but not in the same "freeze your nads" league as first-gen LH Chryslers or old Fords. If there's any trend at all, it seems to me that American makes tend to have a bit more excess AC capacity than Japanese or European, but the differences usually are small.
My 07 Honda Accord on a 95 degrre day with dew points in the mid to upper 50s will blow 38 degress out the center vent.... By far the best A/C I have had in a car....
How about my Dad's 1964 Bel-Air Wagon with the 4-70 AC system...
For you younger guys that's all 4 windows down at 70mph....
Originally Posted By: D189379
I don't know about ac, but Fords have some of the best heaters I've ever come across.

I'd have to say my SAABs had really great heaters. Guess it's that Scandanavian thing.

Regarding the OP, you better believe it! Some people, in my experience, do consider the a/c when buying a car down here. The worst a/c I ever had was in my 94 Ford Probe. At full blast, I was still a pool of sweat anytime after the middle of May.

I can remember my late FIL veto-ing my MIL's wanting a Lexus and/or Infiniti b/c he wasn't impressed with the a/c.

That being said, The fan on my CR-V's a/c must rotate up near 197000 rpms on its highest setting. I gather it was designed that way since there are no rear vents.
Best AC I've ever seen is the electric AC system on the Toyota/Lex hybrids. These systems are totally electric, and draw power only from the traction battery -- unlike most gasoline/diesel cars, there's no belt (or any other contraption) bleeding energy from the engine itself.

The Toyota hybrid AC is a credit to Toyota engineering. You can be sitting in the sun, on a scortching day, and even at a traffic light, with the gas engine OFF, the AC will still deliver a massive flow of ice cold freezing air.

Electric air has to be the wave of the futute.
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