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Auto Climate Control Is Backwards

DN Staff

February 22, 2012

2 Min Read
Auto Climate Control Is Backwards

I have a Toyota Highlander with an automatic climate control system that totally baffles me. The issue concerns the option to either bring in fresh air or recirculate the cabin air.

Consider what happens if I keep the system in "auto" mode. When I get in the car on a hot summer day, it's blisteringly hot inside the cabin. When I turn the car on, the air recirculation mode goes on. So, instead of bringing in the relatively cool outside air, the car recirculates the much hotter cabin air and tries to cool that down.

Later, when the cabin air finally cools to a comfortable temperature, the system goes from recirculation mode to fresh air mode. So now, instead of recirculating the cool cabin air, it tries to cool down the much hotter outside air.

When I get in the car on a cold day, the cabin air, while cold, is still much warmer than the air outside. When it's cold, the system always picks the fresh air mode. So, instead of trying to heat up the cabin air, it tries to heat up the much colder outside air. Of course, I can almost always override the programmed choice by manually hitting the cabin air recirculation mode button.

I say "almost always," because if it is very cold outside -- less than 32F -- the cabin air recirculation button is disabled. That means it takes much longer to heat up the really frigid fresh air. Apparently, the system is worried that with cabin air recirculation, I might mist up the window and not be smart enough to turn it off or turn on the defroster. I can think of no circumstance where the system's choice is any other than the opposite of what would make sense.

This entry was submitted by Michael Holtz and edited by Rob Spiegel.

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