The air circulate button: What it does and when to use it

Winter is upon us, and naturally many of us will turn to our aircon knobs, crank them up to warm, and mess with a few other buttons while at it. What if I told you there’s one useful little button you’ve been ignoring/misusing for years? Enter the “air recirculate button”, the button with a car sketch and a curved inward arrow inside it.

The air recirculate button plays a vital part in keeping the cabin cool, ensures AC (aircon) efficiency, and saves some fuel. However, the sad news is that it is of no use to you during winter! Read on to find out why.

  • The air-recirculation function ensures your AC works at the optimum level, allowing you to maintain the perfect temperature at all times
  • The mode cuts off air from outside and takes the air that’s already inside and recirculates it around the cabin area
  • Contrary to what many might believe, the recirculation function does not filter the air in your car, it just recirculates what's in it

As with everything, recirculation of cabin air has its pros and cons.

  • Keeps your car cooler during hot weather
  • The mode helps reduce strain on the AC, saving you a rand or two in petrol costs
  • Keeps the cabin fresh from odours and pollution that might come from outside
  • Keeps your air filter cleaner for longer because it sucks in less air

  • Keeps humidity trapped inside the car which could cause fogging of the windscreen and windows in cold weather
  • Reduces cabin oxygen concentration if the car is occupied by many people

Using the air-recirculation button is not recommended in the winter. While it might make sense to recirculate the warm air inside your car and prevent your AC from sucking in cold air from outside, it’s actually not a good idea.

Using the recirculation button during winter might cause your car’s windscreen to mist up, leading to a foggy windscreen and windows.

The standard model should be just fine for the winter. Crank it up to warm and watch it do its magic.

The air circulation button works best in the summer. The mode will help keep your car as cool as possible as quickly as possible and for as long as possible (sigh!).

Follow these tips in the summer:

  • Keep the air recirculation button on most of the time
  • Switch between the mode and the standard mode every once in a while to allow fresh air in
  • Use the mode when in a polluted area

The air recirculate mode is one of the most ignored buttons on a car dashboard, however, it also happens to be one of the most useful. Keep the above tips in and you’ll most definitely get the most out of your AC when the weather warms up.

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