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Welcome to Subaru News, Suburb Service’s monthly blog! Subaru News is meant to educate, entertain, and engage you in monthly musings on such topics as auto mechanics, Subarus, travel, auto repair, and driving and living in the Lake Forest Park and Shoreline area. Our blogs are released on the first day of each month!

Know the Difference between an Auto Cooling System and Air Conditioning?


If the answer is no, you're not alone. The general population has a misperception that a vehicle runs on one continual cooling system that cools down both the engine and the cabin. In actuality, every vehicle has two separate systems! One for you, and one for your Subaru.

If you're part of the Pacific Northwest during the summer months, you can be thankful you have an entire system to yourself, while your Subaru keeps cool on its own. So how can you tell the difference? The Auto Cooling System guessed it...for the automobile!

Which leaves the Air Conditioning all to you. We'll break down the differences, so the next time you bring your Subaru in for a tune-up, you can talk shop with the best of us.

Auto Cooling System

Ever get out of your car after a long drive, lean up against the hood while chatting with a fellow traveler, and quickly realize "whoops, that's hot!"? Your engine generates a lot of heat under there! It takes constant motion and power to keep a car running, and like anything with speed and friction, heat is a byproduct.

But we can't let the heat get too high, or you'll end up on the side of the road with smoke coming out from under the hood. To keep things nice and cool, there's a cooling system just for the engine. This system circulates liquid coolant through the engine, exiting out the radiator and out through the front of the vehicle.

The engine is the most important part of the car - and keeping the temperature level is key. When we have freezing weather in Washington, or hotter than normal summers - outside forces can't be allowed to determine the engine temperature. The Auto Cooling System regulates the temperature so that you don't have to worry about external or internal conditions.

Air Conditioning

Now, thankfully you won't blow up if you get too hot (your significant other may disagree) - but you can sure get uncomfortable! Hallelujah for the AC! Suburb Service has been saving relationships one cool Subaru at a time. The Air Conditioning system focuses on cooling the inside of the cabin, regulating the temperature to your preference.

Even though all you see are some knobs and vents, the system is much more in depth than meets the eye. In order to bring cold air to you, four key pieces must be functioning correctly. The AC consists of a Compressor, Condenser, Evaporator, and Pressure Regulating Device.

Each part is just as important as the other, without one working you would be riding with temperature left to the outdoors. In a nutshell, the Compressor is attached to the engine by a belt, which compresses and transfers refrigerant gas (Freon).

The Condenser then moves the currently hot gas from the top and cools it down to the point that the gas exits at the bottom as a liquid. The Evaporator helps dehumidify and remove the heat from the cabin, while the Pressure Regulating Device has the power to dictate the temperature of the evaporator by controlling the actual refrigerant pressure. But as long as the dial and vents are blowing out cold air, you don't need to worry about any of those parts.

Often, a quick fix of changing out or adding the Freon will bring your temperatures back to normal if they seem to be lacking. However, if your Subaru starts pumping out only hot air no matter the temperature setting, it's time for you to pay us a little visit so we can check which part is holding up the refreshing comfort and get you back to driving with ease.

A word of caution!! quickie Freon kits that are available over the counter at the parts store can actually cause more harm than good by overcharging your A/C system causing additional damage and expense.

To make sure your vehicle is ready for the summer temperatures, come see Subaru Experts at Suburb Service. We're the oldest independent Subaru Service center in the Pacific Northwest and have been focused Solely on Subaru for more than 25 years.

Click here to schedule an appointment at Suburb Subaru, or call (206) 705-8695 to reach our Seattle location. Come let us give your Subaru some love!