News and FAQ

5 tips to stop your car windows from fogging up on winter mornings, from the experts at your local CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre.





You’re running late for work, grab a quick breakfast to-go, rush out to the car, start it up, put your seatbelt on, look up and your windscreen is completely fogged up.

So what do you do?

You can’t start driving when you can’t see where you’re going. Most people furiously wipe the mist away only for it to return within a few seconds.

Others might wind down their windows and get blasted by the cool morning air. Some might turn their air-conditioning on full and wait for the fog to disappear.

Catherine Tocker from CoolCar in Hamilton says this problem can be a daily battle for people over winter.

“That’s why we wanted to share some tips for how to help reduce condensation in your vehicle, and the best ways to deal with it.”

What causes foggy windscreens?

Windows fog up on the inside when warm, moist air in the car – usually caused by your breath – meets colder glass surfaces, causing condensation.

Not breathing is not a viable option, so CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre has come up with 5 ways to stop your car windows from fogging up on winter mornings.

  1. Make sure your vehicle’s air-conditioning is running correctly. This is by far the most important factor in preventing foggy windows. If your air-conditioning is working as it should, then it will deal to condensation quickly. You can get your air-conditioning tested and repaired at your local CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre.
  2. Reduce moisture build-up inside your vehicle. There are all sorts of creative ways people do this, from installing car dehumidifiers to putting socks full of cat litter on the dashboard. The most simple way is to regularly air your vehicle out on fine days.
  3. Wind your windows right down. If you get enough cold air into your car to dilute your warm breath then, yes, your condensation will fade. However, it also means you’ll be cold and uncomfortable on your drive to work.
  4. Apply anti-fog spray to your windscreen. You can buy various anti-fog products from automotive stores. While some people say this work well, others say it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
  5. Get your seals checked. Ask your mechanic to check door and window seals in your vehicle. Damaged seals may be letting moisture into your vehicle, contributing to your condensation problem.

So there you have it. Five simple ways to help stop foggy windows.

If you want to get your car air-conditioning checked and repaired before you start running into this problem on a daily basis, give your local CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre a call.

CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres have expert staff, quality service and the right equipment to get the job done.

There are centres in Hamilton, Central Auckland, East Auckland, Onehunga, Manukau and North Shore.

Contact CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Hamilton

Address: 399 Te Rapa Road, Hamilton

Postal Address: PO Box 27-145, Garnett Avenue, Hamilton, 3257

Phone: (09) 849 6906

Fax: (09) 849 6460



Contact MediaPA:

Phone: 0274 587 724







Winter is coming. But you can keep cosy on your morning commute thanks to the car heating experts at your local CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre.




In the summer months when you’re using your car air-conditioning unit on overdrive, issues with the heating system can go undetected.

And when winter arrives, you can be caught out on the drive to work on those frosty mornings by a faulty or broken heater.

Therefore, it’s recommended that you get any issues with your car heater checked and fixed by the friendly staff at your local CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre before the winter weather sets in.

“You can avoid the discomfort that comes with a dodgy car heating system by getting it diagnosed and repaired before winter hits,” says Catherine Tocker from CoolCar on Te Rapa Road in Hamilton.

“No one needs to be driving to work in an ice-box. All it takes is a quick visit to your local CoolCar centre.”

CoolCar staff are highly-trained in all things heating related and have the tools and specialised equipment on site to diagnose and repair any car heating problem.

Common issues with your car heater include electrical problems, engine cooling problems, and resistor burn out.

“We’ve seen almost every car heater problem under the sun and always manage to find a timely and cost-effective solution,” Catherine says.

CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres are the experts in diagnosis and repair of air conditioning and heating systems in every type of vehicle, including cars, agricultural vehicles, tractors, buses, aircraft and heavy equipment.

If you’re having problems with your car heating, call the trusted CoolCar air-conditioning centre closest to you. There are centres in Central Auckland, East Auckland, Onehunga, Manukau, North Shore, and Hamilton.

“The winter weather already seems to be upon us, so if you’re in need of some reliable advice or quality repairs, give us a call today.”




The experienced, award-winning director of the CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre in Auckland’s North Shore is the highly-trusted Dave Harwood.









Dave started the CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre, located at 99 Wairau Road, in 1996 and has grown it into a reputable and reliable business.

Dave got his start in the automotive trade while working as a mechanic in the New Zealand Army during the 1960s.

He started specialising in air-conditioning in Australia in the 1970s and hasn’t looked back since.

Dave says he enjoys the challenge of the industry and providing customers with expert advice that they wouldn’t get at a typical automotive workshop.

He says the benefits of choosing a company like the North Shore CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre were “expertise and equipment”.

“We have got the right equipment to do the job,” Dave says.

“We’ve got the latest leak detection methods, we’ve got the latest scan tools for getting into the electronics, and we can do everything here.”

His professional tip for people who have air-conditioning issues with their vehicle is: “Re-gassing is not the be all and end all.”

He says the friendly, reliable team at the North Shore CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre can diagnose the heart of the problem, often saving customers hundreds of dollars.

“We are part of a very highly trained group of workshops and people coming to us will get the necessary skill levels to diagnose and fix the problems properly.”

Dave and his team at CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre are selected repairers for major warranty companies.

He’s also a member of the MTA executive for the northern region and is often consulted as an advisor for the industry.

Dave was recognised for his talents with an international award for industry excellence from VASA, a network representing the automotive air-conditioning, electrical and cooling technicians of Australasia, in 2015.

Over the years, Dave has worked on a wide range of vehicles but says highlights include a Lamborghini Espada and the occasional V-type Jaguar.

Outside of work, Dave enjoys fishing and spending quality time with his grandchildren.



CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres are Light Truck and Van Refrigeration Specialists

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPAdownload (4)

CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres specialise in diagnosis, repair, service and installation of vehicle air conditioning and heating systems in any vehicle, whether it’s a private car, commercial vehicle, campervan, bus or heavy machinery.

Light truck and van refrigeration services are offered at three branches of CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres, Manukau, East Tamaki and Hamilton.

Existing customers who have used the light truck and van refrigeration services include chilled produce vendors, milk and baked goods vendors.

“Some of our customers transport delicate produce, such as berries and lettuces, which must be kept cool at all times.  It’s very important for us to make sure their vehicle’s refrigeration is well maintained and in good working order,” says Catherine Tocker of CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres.

“If you suspect your truck or van has an issue with the refrigeration, the best thing to do is to immediately make a booking with a CoolCar Air Conditioning Centre in Manukau, East Tamaki or Hamilton, where our refrigeration experts can diagnose the fault,” says Catherine.   Phone 0508 266 5227

CoolCar Air Conditioning Centres can offer the following services for your refrigerated light truck or van:

  • Maintenance
  • Diagnosis and repairs
  • Filter-drier replacement
  • Evaporator and condenser coil cleaning
  • Belt adjustment and replacement
  • Cooling fan replacement and repairs
  • Rebuilt and new compressors
  • Hose repair and replacement
  • Electrical repairs, including 240V over-nighter repairs
  • Refrigerant conversions
  • Installations
  • Fitting of new refrigeration systems

CoolCar Air Conditioning Centres in Manukau, East Tamaki and Hamilton are members of the Motor Trade Association (MTA) and VASA Automotive Air Conditioning, Electrical and Cooling Specialists of Australasia.


CoolCar Air Conditioning Centres Care for the Environment

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPAdownload

The Ministry for the Environment says you should always use a qualified auto air conditioning specialist to assess and repair problems with your vehicle’s air conditioning, as a specialist will have the right tools to recover refrigerants for re-use or recycling.

In a statement released on their website, the Ministry for the Environment says, “the refrigerant gases used in vehicle air conditioners harm the world’s atmosphere if allowed to escape”.  [Approved] vehicle air-conditioning refrigerants are potent global warming or ozone depleting substances.”

Catherine Tocker from multi-award-winning CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres say they are committed to protecting the environment and the loss of refrigerant to the environment should always be prevented.  Not only is it best practice to recover refrigerant and find and fix leaks, but The Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 and Climate Change Response Act 2002 make the release of refrigerants used in automotive air-conditioning an offence when working on and using the equipment in New Zealand.

“When an air-conditioning system breaks down, most people think it just needs re-gassing and there’s certainly a lot of places to get a quick and cheap top up with refrigerant.  However, unless you find the leak that caused it to run out of refrigerant in the first place, you will be contributing to gases, harmful to the environment, being released to the atmosphere and often more, expensive damage being done to the system as it runs low on refrigerant for another time,” says Catherine.

“At CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres, we take this issue very seriously and take all care to ensure refrigerant does not escape into the atmosphere during servicing.”

CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres are leading providers of air-conditioning and heating services for all types of vehicles including cars, trucks, agricultural vehicles, tractors, buses and heavy equipment.



CoolCar Air Conditioning Centres Introduce Tools of the Trade

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPAdownload-14

Every good workman needs a good set of tools and air conditioning specialists are no exception.

CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres are the experts in diagnosis and repair of air conditioning and heating systems in every type of vehicle, like cars, including classic cars, agricultural vehicles, tractors, buses, aircraft and heavy equipment.

Here are four tools – and four good reasons – to take your vehicle to the team at your nearest CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre:

  1. Our trained and experienced technicians

Catherine Tocker, of CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres, says a trained and experienced technician will know what they’re looking for during a vehicle inspection.  If a system presents with low refrigerant, a good tech will be looking for the site of the loss.  Oil and debris can be a sign of the whereabouts of the leak and simple performance tests can help identify why your system isn’t working properly because low refrigerant isn’t always the problem. That in itself is an important reason to bring your car’s air conditioning problems to the professionals as a lot of people can only sell you a re-gas because that is where their expertise ends.   Catherine Tocker says their business in Hamilton diagnoses over 700 vehicles in a summer season and that gives them a lot of experience in what they do.

  1. Electronic leak detection

Sensitive electronic leak detectors detect refrigerant leaks down to 7g/annum.   The presence of refrigerant completes an electrical circuit and sounds an alert.  Used to detect leaks smaller than those that present a visible leak it is far more sensitive than a nitrogen or refrigerant pressure drop test (ie looking or listening, with naked ears for a pressure drop). A failure to use leak detection of this type of sensitivity means significant leaks are missed.   But, not all leaks can be found by this method.

  1. Loktrace leak detection technology

This German made hydrogen-nitrogen leak detector uses dual sensor technology to detect leaks and is more sensitive than leak detection using refrigerant.  In the hands of the skilled professionals at CoolCar, this is a valuable tool to detect leaks that are small and/or hard to access and is currently available at CoolCar Hamilton and North Shore.  These centres are ready for leak detection in new style HFO1234yf systems with this technology.

  1. Refrigerant identifier

With the practice of re-gassing leaking air conditioning systems with contaminated refrigerant now rife in New Zealand, being able to identify the composition of the refrigerant in a system is vital.  It helps with diagnosis of unusual system performance, and prevents us contaminating our refrigerant with chemicals that have no place in automotive systems like R22, propane and iso-butane, air and other unidentified components which we see following re-gassing by some.

In New Zealand it is an offence to release refrigerant into the atmosphere when that release is preventable (Climate Change Response Act 2002 and Ozone Protection Act 1996) so Cool Car Air-Conditioning Centres take this regulation very seriously.

Cool Car Air-Conditioning Centres have six stores throughout Auckland and the Waikato, with mobile specialists in their Manuakau and Hamilton stores.

Contact CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres Ltd:

399 Te Rapa Road, Te Rapa, Hamilton, 3200

PO Box 27145, Garnett Ave, Hamilton, 3257

Phone: 0508 266 5227




Contact MediaPA:

Phone: 0274 587 724










CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Offers Tips on Spring A/C Maintenance for Your Vehicle

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPAimages

Summer’s coming.  How is your car’s air conditioning holding up?  If you want to be cruising the streets in comfort this summer, now is the time to take your vehicle into your nearest CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre for a spring check-up.

Getting your air conditioning sorted this spring will pay off in comfort and fuel economy, as well as prolong the life of your air conditioning system.

“A car’s air-conditioning system is made up of a number of components including a compressor, evaporator, fan and condenser,” says Catherine Tocker from CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres.  Any one of those components may experience wear and tear so it pays to have the whole system checked regularly.”

Here are Catherine’s five tips for keeping your air-conditioning system healthy this spring and summer:

Keep the Air Con Running:

Keep your A/C system turned on throughout the year to keep the seals and hoses supple.

Put Your Windows Up:

If your A/C is working properly there should be no need to open the windows, other than to dump the worst of the heat if your car has been parked in the sun.  Once you’re going, keeping the windows closed will ensure a constant, cool temperature as well as save your fuel.

Get Regular Services:

CoolCar Air Conditioning Centres have all the equipment and expertise to give your system a thorough evaluation and service, checking all parts for wear and tear and making small repairs before they turn into large ones.  Modern A/C systems need belts and pollen filters changed, even when there are no other faults.

Use a Professional:

“Always take your vehicle to someone with plenty of experience and the right tools,” says Catherine.  “Vehicle Air Conditioning is a specialised industry and if you don’t know what you’re doing you won’t get the right results and you can end up spending more money than you need to.”

CoolCar Air Conditioning Centres service A/C systems all year round, including winter.

“Now would be the perfect time to bring your vehicle to us,” says Catherine, “before the summer rush starts in December and January, when the weather gets hot and people suddenly can’t tolerate their system not working.”

“Be one of the wise people,” says Catherine, “who get their air con system checked out before the summer heat sets in.”



CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Hamilton – telling you the real story. 

One of the recent jobs at CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre  in Hamilton was a 2005 Suzuki Liana with low kms and a noisy compressor.1

The owner only had the car for a couple of months.  The vehicle’s  air conditioning was not working when she bought it but she had been told it would just need re-gassing to get going and that this wouldn’t cost much.  The advice from CoolCar Air-Conditioning is to be very wary if a car seller or repairer tells you that as you may be buying a power load of trouble.

Not completely satisfied with the timeliness or completeness of two evaluations carried by other local repairers, the customer brought her vehicle into our workshop and it’s just as well she did because we were able to tell her the real story.

We learned that the vehicle had low refrigerant, UV dye in the system and a noisy compressor.

Straight away, we are looking for the leak responsible.  A lack of oil and refrigerant returning to the compressor causes overheating and excessive wear leading to noise while the refrigerant is pumped out of the system.  No leaks could be found in the engine bay, so there’s only one suspect left and that’s the evaporator under the dash.

At no cost to the owner, we removed the vehicle’s evaporator to inspect for leaks and found as suspected, it was leaking.  We priced up repairs for her consideration with a choice of new and second hand repair options.  Rather than under-cutting the other repairers to ‘get the job’, our advice was that she would need to spend more to have the actual cause of the compressor failure addressed, as well as the remedial work needed to the compressor the others described.  The customer took us up on our offer and her car was repaired in our workshop.

The customer was impressed with the cleanliness and professional appearance of all workshops she took her car to, but she was really pleased that CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre in Hamilton took the effort to find out and tell her the full story of what was wrong with her car.  She was really impressed it didn’t cost her anything to find out (unlike the other two evaluations, although the diagnostic charge wasn’t collected in one instance) and disappointed neither of the other recommendations involved fixing the leak that caused the compressor to fail in the first place. Although the possibility of leak repairs was mentioned no scope or pricing was given. This is a big deal when the original repair costs mentioned are more than $1000.  She’s still waiting for the written quote from one repairer.









The heater box is out of the car to replace the leaking evaporator









Internal damage to the compressor wobble plate can be seen proving a lack of oil caused the compressor to become noisy.  If the compressor had been replaced without fixing the leak, this will all have recurred over time as refrigerant leaked out again to the atmosphere, contributing unnecessarily to global warming.

At CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre in Hamilton, evaluations are typically free of charge to find out what’s wrong with your car air conditioning, what we want to do about it and how much it will cost to proceed.  Our free assessment typically excludes comprehensive diagnosis and pricing of electrical faults and extensive dismantling and reassembly to establish a price (but this is not required for most cars) but luckily for our customer it was a quiet day so we undertook to pull the evaporator to check it at no charge to confirm our suspicions of where the leak was situated.

The owner commented that our workshop was conveniently located and she was offered the use of a loan car while we had her vehicle which was great.  She said she won’t always go for the cheapest repair option but would go for the best value and in this case it was the one that fixed the problem and the cause.

CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres are individually owned and operated and the evaluation policies will vary slightly between businesses, so contact the centre nearest you to find out about an air conditioning evaluation on your vehicle.


CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Sees You With Your Windows Down

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPA


Are you one of those people who drive around with your windows down to keep air flowing through your vehicle?  A lot of people like it like that around town but it’s not much fun on the open road.  If your air conditioning isn’t working there are not a lot of options.


“I see people driving around with their windows down,” says Miles Crellin from CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Onehunga, “and I wonder how many have had their vehicle air conditioning re-gassed and when that doesn’t fix the problem, or for longer than a jiffy, think that that’s the end of that.”


Miles says it’s a commonly but incorrectly held view that when your air conditioning stops working properly, you get it re-gassed and sadly, there’s a lot of people out there selling just that.


“The trouble with re-gassing, is that in 40 percent of vehicles, low refrigerant is not even the reason for poor air conditioning performance.  And in our experience, re-gas merchants will sell you a re-gas anyway even if it does nothing.  We get referrals following re-gassing because it didn’t fix the fault, and the customer is advised they’d better take it to a specialist.    We don’t think these repairers are helping you.  They’re helping themselves to your money by selling you a product or service that’s not fit for purpose.


“In the other 60 percent of vehicles, low refrigerant may be responsible but unless the reason for low refrigerant is addressed, then that re-gas will just drift off into the atmosphere like the last lot and that’s no good for the planet or the air-conditioning system.


“A guy in a van or workshop with a set of air-con gauges and a jug of refrigerant is not necessarily an air-con specialist,” says Miles.  “Many lack the necessary skills, inclination and equipment to correctly diagnose systems leaks and other faults.  That’s expensive test equipment like refrigerant identifiers, electronic scan tools and sensitive leak detection equipment.  Simply doing a vacuum test followed by a re-gas and ‘seeing how she goes’ is not an acceptable approach for addressing low refrigerant.  Customers are advised in these cases, we hear that if the system loses its refrigerant again following re-gassing, they might be dealing with a leak.  Our customers tell us some of these operators aren’t even able to deal with leak repairs. We see plenty of cars still fully charged with refrigerant – enough to know that cars don’t lose their gas unless they’re broken or the refrigerant has been removed for some reason”.


A small number of cars need re-gassing following some repair but this is usually identifiable from vehicle history and in New Zealand it is an offence to release refrigerant to the atmosphere when that release is preventable (Climate Change Response Act 2002 and Ozone Protection Act 1996).  When engine work is required and the air-conditioning is in the way, the system needs to be professionally de-gassed and the refrigerant recovered for reuse or destruction.  Alternatively, if the system loses its refrigerant during normal operation the site of that loss of refrigerant needs to be identified and repaired before the gas is put back.


“Now that leak may be small, small enough that a re-gas will reinstate operation temporarily, but that doesn’t mean it’s an acceptable practice without repairs and it’s illegal under these Acts,” says Miles.


“If you really want to know what’s going on within your air conditioning system, you need to take it to an air conditioning specialist,” says Miles.  “You’ll be able to recognize one because re-gassing won’t be their primary offering.  Initially they’ll identify whether your vehicle is low on refrigerant or not and then they’ll diagnose your car from there.  If it is low, they’ll spend some time looking for the leak and if one isn’t found they’ll propose a rigorous leak detection programme for you and likely repair costs will be discussed with you before going down that path.  If you’re not in the market place for a $1000 repair on your BMW when it’s low on refrigerant and there are no leaks to be found in the engine bay, you probably don’t need to go any further as a diagnostic UV dye re-gas with proper follow up is twice as likely to uncover a leaking evaporator under the dash than the general incidence of leaking evaporators in cars that are leaking, our findings show.  Evaporator replacement in European models and a few Japanese models can be expensive as often the whole dashboard has to come out to replace the faulty component.    Some air conditioning leaks can be repaired simply with new o-rings but other repairs may require component replacement – whatever is responsible for the leak has a huge bearing on repair costs.


“A re-gas is absolutely no help to you if your vehicle is not working because of a control problem or blocked cabin filter or other non-refrigerant related problem.  So our advice is, don’t go there”.


“Some car owner’s don’t care and are willing to take a punt on a re-gas being effective even if it’s short term, and will get a car re-gassed even following a professional diagnosis that identifies leaking components, but the correct use of refrigeration for our comfort and well-being should be part of everyone’s responsibility.  The most commonly used refrigerant in car air conditioning systems has a global warming potential of 1400.  That means when you get your Toyota re-gassed three times in three years, because you can, you’re tipping the equivalent of tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere.  And that’s not fair.”


“Second hand car dealers really perpetuate the myth that car air conditioning systems ‘just need a re-gas’.  Be very wary if a car seller gives you that advice as you may be buying a power load of trouble down the track.  Needless to say, CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres don’t have a lot of used car dealer clients as few want to know the real story”.


Miles recommends drivers have their vehicle’s air conditioning system fixed properly after bringing the vehicle to their nearest CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre for a diagnosis of the problem.  Then, when the problem has been fixed, bring the vehicle back once a year to be checked and maintained to keep it running smoothly.


“But in most cases when repaired in accordance with our recommendations, systems don’t break down again and we confidently back our 12 months warranty on our parts and labour,” says Miles with a smile.


Miles recommends keeping the windows of your vehicle closed and the air conditioning on all year, incorporating the heater in winter, to keep the system running well.


CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre workshops are independently owned and operated.  Find the centre nearest you by visiting their website.


NZ Automotive AC Field Survey (survey of 677 vehicles conducted by CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Hamilton, summer 2014-2015).  Published VASA Sightglass News Issue 3 September 2015.



Cooling the Classics with CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPA


CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres, with six branches throughout Auckland and the Waikato, are leading providers of air-conditioning and heating services for all types of vehicles, including classics.


Classic car owners are coming out in force as summer approaches, polishing their cars and getting ready for the plethora of classic vehicle shows lined up for the summer months around New Zealand, such as the Aroha Cruise In, a celebration of classic cars and hot rods held annually in the Waikato by the Te Aroha Business Association.


Many more classic car runs and celebrations are set to go off around Auckland and the Waikato during the summer months, leading towards autumn with favourites like the Auckland Classic Brit & Euro Car show, set to take place on Sunday 5 March at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Auckland.


If there’s one thing that’s going to make a classic car owner stand out among his or her peers, it’s the cool breeze of a properly functioning air-conditioning system.


Central Auckland’s and Hamilton’s CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres are rarities among air-conditioning businesses in New Zealand.  These two centres have the expertise to build vehicle air-conditioning and heating systems from scratch that will stand the test of time.


These businesses custom build air-conditioning systems for cars, classic cars, heavy machinery, agricultural vehicles, trains, boats and aircraft.


“While specialist design and build expertise is located at two CoolCar centres, all centres have the expertise to look after your existing air-conditioning system or reinstate air-conditioning when certain components are broken or missing.


“And we’re not just limited to working on the classics.  Our centres also service other specialty vehicle air-conditioning, like limousines, ambulances and prison transport,” says Quim Silva of CoolCar Air Conditioning Centre Auckland.  “Among our highly experienced staff, we have air-conditioning and heating experts, auto-electricians and mechanics and can take care of the full range of issues encountered like leak diagnosis and repair, electrical issues, system servicing and deodorization.”



The Future of Automotive Air Conditioning is Here

picRepresentatives from CoolCar Air-Conditioning’s six centres in Auckland and Hamilton attended the auto-AC future:gas roadshow, on 10 August 2016, to learn about developments in automotive air conditioning refrigerants.

VASA, an industry body that represents automotive air conditioning, electrical and cooling technician members in Australasia, teamed up with Refrigerant Reclaim Australia, Refrigerants Australia and the Australian Refrigeration Council to take the roadshow around Australia and to Auckland.

The seminar was well attended by people from the automotive air conditioning and refrigeration sectors, suppliers, government and regulators.

The NZ event, held at Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Mount Wellington, Auckland, had a token entry fee as the organisers were keen their message was easily accessible to all.

Attendees heard about the new vehicle refrigerants HFO1234y and R744.


In the quest for a refrigerant which meets strict new low global warming and ozone depletion performance criteria, a novel chemical, 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene has been adopted by the majority of new vehicle manufacturers following extensive testing.  This refrigerant is mildly flammable. In the past, automotive refrigerants have been strictly non-flammable.

The lower and upper flammability limits for the refrigerant, how it disperses when released and how that compares to other, more highly flammable substances which might be used as refrigerants were discussed, and why HFO1234yf was selected.

High end Mercedes models are expected to come equipped with carbon dioxide (R744) as refrigerant in the near future.  These systems will have much higher operating pressures than existing systems.

Specialised engineering of components is required to cater for the flammability in the first instance and high pressure in the second instance.  In all instances, proper expertise in the diagnosis, service and repair will be required to keep repairers and car owners safe.

Spokesperson for CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres, Peter Roper from Manukau said, “as members of VASA, a lot of what we heard at future:gas was a refresher, but it’s good to know our understanding is on the right track”.

Peter Roper said, “cars with HFO1234yf have been around for several years presenting headaches whenever service is required and some of these vehicles have been past our Centres.  The problem is, the new refrigerant cannot currently be purchased for use in these systems when it is required”.

Relief is at hand as John McCormack from Chemours announced the manufacturer of HFO1234yf, Honeywell has recently applied to the NZ Environmental Protection Agency to have HFO1234yf treated as a permitted substance in NZ under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.

“This is pleasing news”, said Peter Roper.  “Hopefully, the application will be successful in time for the upcoming air-conditioning season which kicks off in October as we’ll see more of these vehicles in need of attention by our skilled team”.

“We’ve received training in the operation of HFO1234yf systems in Australia and seen the refrigerant perform in our own workshops and have a good appreciation of how like, and unalike the current refrigerant R134a, it is”.

“R134a has high global warming effects but it’ll be around in motor vehicles for many years to come”, he says.  “New Zealand has yet to announce any phasedown plans for the importation of refrigerant R134a.”

The event was a great opportunity to reconnect with others in the industry and was very well received by attendees.  Hopes are high that the team will be back with more updates next year.




Should anyone propose using a ‘green’ or environmentally-friendly refrigerant instead of the approved refrigerant for your car, which will be Freon R12, R134a or R1234yf – be very concerned. You may be told it’s a hydrocarbon, it’s better for the environment, that it’s more efficient than the proper stuff or just that the refrigerant is cheaper or the change may be made without it being discussed with you.

Your system is not designed for hydrocarbons, such as a blend of iso-butane and propane and there is evidence from the growing use of hydrocarbon that it is not the effective ‘drop in’ replacement claimed and causes system damage.

Of greater concern, hydrocarbons mixed with air are highly flammable or explosive. If released into the cabin there is a very high risk of ignition and injury or even death.

Proponents of hydrocarbon use in motor vehicle AC claim the refrigerant is safe and as there are other flammable substances in motor vehicles like petrol and LPG, its flammability is not a concern. However the flammability of petrol and LPG is essential as a fuel. It is not a desired property of refrigerant to ignite, just that it transfer heat. The existing system lacks the necessary engineering controls required to mitigate the risks that retrofit to hydrocarbon bring to vehicle owners, technicians carrying out the work, other people working on the vehicle and members of the public.

From the Australian experience there are numerous anecdotal cases of fire and injury caused by hydrocarbon retrofit in vehicle AC. These cases are often not reported when it becomes clear that the action of adding hydrocarbon has endangered worker safety and insurance claims may be void because the vehicle was modified in a way that caused the loss.

In April 2014 however, two workers were injured in Western Australia when hydrocarbon in the vehicle they were driving escaped from the AC into the cabin following component failure. The refrigerant ignited as it came out the vents burning hands and faces. It has been formally investigated and recommended that hydrocarbon use in this setting be stopped, pending proof that re-engineering the system means it can be used safety. When cost plays a significant part in the decision to use a hydrocarbon in lieu of the recommended refrigerant it is unlikely this will take place for existing makes and models.

Just like in Australia, hydrocarbon use may increase as some attempt to avoid licensing and handling requirements and seek alternatives.  Factors coming into play in NZ  are:

  • the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme means the main refrigerant, R134a becomes more expensive as new bulk refrigerant imports are subject to carbon trading requirements.
  • a Commerce Commission sanctioned restrictive sale practice on approved refrigerants by the majority of refrigerant importers/wholesalers limits sales to suitably qualified persons from 1 January 2015. Refrigerant from these wholesalers is slightly more expensive as a levy applies to help run the scheme. Levies also apply for recovery and destruction schemes.
  • Since the Tamahere Cool Store Fire (again following retrofit with a hydrocarbon) there has been a growing awareness of the legal requirement for people handling compressed gases to have an Approved Fillers Certificate which adds expense to running your business. Approved Fillers Certification is the requirement to purchase refrigerant from participating wholesalers.
  • it is an offence to knowingly recharge a leaking AC system with R12 (1996) or R134a (2013) but there is no restriction on hydrocarbons as not covered by the same laws. We trust you’ll agree it sounds very unwise to charge a leaking system with hydrocarbon but it does happen. When refrigerant is low and no leaks are found the leak is commonly behind the dash and could result in refrigerant leaking into the cabin if not properly diagnosed and repaired.

Please check that the company you are dealing with has appropriately qualified staff who have an Approved Fillers Certificate for compressed gases under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. This is a good indicator of whether the party you are dealing with is up with the play.

New team join CoolCar

Always looking for new ways to help our clients with their car air – conditioning and heater issues a new workshop has joined our number.  CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Onehunga offer the same excellent service and operate from Selwyn Street, Auckland.

Did you know?

At CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres, customers often ask us how to get the best out of their vehicle’s air-conditioning, how their air-conditioning works and why we provide the advice we do.

Here we provide tips, factsheets, articles and stories to help you make the most of your vehicle’s air-conditioning and heating.

Quick facts: Did you know?

  • You should get your air-conditioning serviced every year to keep it running smoothly and save you money in the long-term.
  • You should have your refrigerant and receiver-drier replaced every second year in your vehicle’s air-conditioning so your system will last longer and operate.
  • Having your air-conditioning on helps keep you alert when driving.
  • Your vehicle’s air-conditioner demists your windscreen in winter – ensuring visibility and safer driving. So keep your air-conditioner on when you have your heater running.
  • While some say turning off your air-conditioning saves you money on petrol, there are also significant losses in vehicle efficiency when you drive your car at open road speeds with the windows down. While comparative car energy efficiency ratings may be determined with AC off,  modern car air-conditioning systems are designed to be as economical as possible and a lot of consideration is given to this when manufacturers are designing your system and you can be sure those energy ratings are done with the window up!  Using your air-conditioning in all seasons reduces the chances of a malfunction in your air-conditioning system. Malfunctions can lead to costly repairs.
  • Signs your air-conditioner or heater needs a check-up include the following:
    • if the air inside your vehicle is too hot or cold even after you’ve changed the settings
    • if your air-conditioning is smelly or noisy
    • if fluid leaks from your air-conditioning onto your vehicle’s floor
    • if windows are fogging heavily and won’t demist even with the air-conditioning and heater running.
    • if you cannot change the vent selection to your preferred option

Dometic and Eberspacher

CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Hamilton can take care of your Dometic or Air-Command roof top air-conditioning fault or installation as well as Eberspacher diesel heater sales and service.

Approved fillers certificates

In October 2011, staff from all CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres attended training and certification at CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centre Hamilton to attain approved fillers certification (under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996) for recovery of refrigerant into an approved compressed gas cylinder.  CoolCar Air-Conditioning Centres voluntarily recover all refrigerants for recycling or appropriate destruction.

Unless it is properly recovered, refrigerant ends up in the environment when it leaves a vehicle air-conditioning system.  This could be an accidental loss, such as when the car is in an accident, or a deliberate loss during air-conditioning, engine or accident repairs.

Make sure your vehicle is being worked on by a company that is aware of its obligations and complies with the regulations and industry best practice.  Ask to see your technician’s fillers certificate.  If they don’t have one, find out whether they are venting refrigerant to avoid complying with this regulation.

The Ozone Protection Act 1996 in New Zealand requires recovery of all ozone-depleting refrigerants, like R12 used in older style vehicle air-conditioning systems.  The Climate Protection Act 2002 makes the same requirement for  newer, ‘synthetic greenhouse gas’ refrigerants like R134a.  This latest change means that it is now an offence to ‘top-up’ any leaking air-conditioning system with the approved refrigerant without first attending to the leak and mandatory recovery is required when working on the AC or other systems within the car that require the refrigerant to be removed.  Industry best practice and product stewardship guidelines advocate a zero tolerance for preventable emissions of refrigerant and this has now been backed up by legislation.