Improving Air Quality in Your Car
Have you ever thought about the quality of the air inside of your car?
The air quality in a car is probably the most overlooked part of the driving or riding experience. If you were to do a bit of research online, you’ll find some people arguing that it’s actually the most important part of them all!
Not only does air quality affect the passengers’ overall comfort, it also influences the driver’s ability to stay awake and alert throughout the trip. Remember: a car is like a little room on wheels with closed doors and closed windows. There could be anywhere from one to five or more occupants (depending on the vehicle’s size), all who are breathing the same shared air for the entire duration of the car ride.
Seeing things from this perspective might make you want to evaluate the air quality in your car and try to improve it, but where should you start? Here are a few points to think about as you go about doing that.
Inside Air vs Outside Air
Take a look near your air-conditioner controls and you’ll see a button or a lever (depending on your car’s design) that switches between inside air and outside air.
Keeping it set on inside air means the air conditioning unit will recycle the air that’s already inside the car while also cooling it down. Recycled air may be cooler than outside air (especially in our Malaysian climate), but it also means that the air will have less oxygen in it, and higher levels of carbon dioxide (after being exhaled by the car’s occupants). While this is not dangerous, it could contribute to the driver feeling a little less alert and energized while driving, which might not be ideal especially for long-haul drives.
Setting it on outside air however means that the air conditioning unit will draw air from outside the vehicle. In theory this means that the air will be fresh and oxygenated, but this is highly dependant on the surroundings of the car itself. If you’re driving in the city, drawing air from the outside could mean breathing smoky, polluted air that’s even worse for your health. However, if you’re driving in the countryside, this could mean breathing in refreshing, cool air instead.
Depending on your surroundings, you might want to switch between these two modes to find what works best for you!
No matter which option you decide to go with, be it outside air or recycled air from the inside of the car, all of it will travel through your car cabin’s air filters. This is important to note because if a clean air filter will do its job well, but a dirty air filter will not be able to filter out particles and smells from the air that you’ll end up breathing.
Air filters are typically changed when you bring your car in for its regular servicing, but you can always buy new filters or clean them yourself if you feel that they’re not keep the air in your car as clean as it should be.
Floor mats and Car Upholstery
Fresh air and a clean air filter contribute towards better air quality inside your car, but there are elements within the car itself that can reduce that quality as well. The inside of your car is lined with quite a bit of fabric, be it the floor mats themselves, under the floor mats, or even the upholstery of the car’s seats. To ensure optimal air quality, these also need to be cleaned periodically.
The easiest thing to do is to vacuum the car and shake the car mats to get rid of any dust stuck to it. Additionally, you could also use your favourite brand of anti-bacterial spray to freshen up the car and help remove the odours inside.
Occasionally, you could also take your car for more detailed cleaning, though that would probably cost quite a bit. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you could also wash your car seats at home with a little bit of guidance from Youtube videos while making use of cleaning supplies available at home.
Think of it this way: we clean our beds and furniture at home quote often to ensure they’re clean, why don’t we give our cars the same treatment?
Air fresheners and sterilizers/ionizers
If you’re the kind of person who wants to go the extra mile to ensure good air quality for yourself and your passengers, there are also the option of air sterilizers and fresheners. Air fresheners are available almost everywhere and come with many different scents to make your car smell exactly the way you’d like it to.
Or if you’re the kind who loves gadgets, you could also invest in air sterilizers/ionizers; devices plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter or USB port which kill germs and bacteria. Some of these electronic devices also ionize the air in your car, making it fresh, clean, and healthy for you to breathe in.
With all the effort we put into maintaining and even upgrading our cars, perhaps it’s time we put a little bit of thought into the quality of the air we breathe while we’re travelling in our precious vehicles.