Summer Heat = Summer Woes

Jim Luff
Posted on August 8, 2012

Vehicle air-conditioners just can’t keep up with triple-digit temperatures!
As I write my blog today, the temperature outside is 106 degrees. That’s the downside to living in Bakersfield, Calif.

The high temperature combined with lots of idling time wreaks havoc on the vehicles from an overheating standpoint to the A/C system just not being able to keep up. While idling, the A/C systems don’t pump the air out as cool as when you are rolling down the road. So, passengers enter a large vehicle such as an Excursion or a bus and complain that it is warm and want to know if we can cool it down.

Of course we can. Once the client shuts up about the heat and we can get going, the vehicle will cool down. However, it takes a while depending on the vehicle. If we have a 55-passenger bus that is forced to idle for more than 30 minutes before loading passengers, the interior becomes warm. Now, if you add 50 people sporting a temperature of 98.6 degrees, this adds heat to the interior and makes it that much warmer and causes the cool down to take longer.

Depending upon coachbuilders, some beef up the A/C systems and some don’t. We were unfortunate enough to buy a 20-passenger Excursion limousine that simply uses the factory-installed system to cook a vehicle that was stretched more than double its original size. While the driver might stay nice and cool, the A/C lines were extended to run from the front unit all the way to the back with tubes extending throughout the coach where air is dispersed. If you are the guy sitting in the very back of the vehicle, you better bring a towel on a day like today.

Then there is the overheating issue. We encourage our drivers to shut the engines down when they will be sitting at the same place for an extended period. However, being realistic, on a day like this, I can’t really expect a driver to deprive himself of A/C when forced to wait for a long period. But, when they sit and idle in the air-conditioned car for a prolonged period, eventually the vehicle will overheat.

This became a problem for us last week when a limo sat waiting at the airport for a flight to arrive. Of course we wanted to keep the air running in the limo so when the passengers got in, it would be nice and cool. The flight was delayed twice by small increments in time but yet enough that the temperature gauge was slowly climbing to the top of the scale. The situation had to be addressed so we ended up sending another limo to the airport. The first driver switched out to the car that just completed a 20-minute freeway drive to get to the airport. It was nice and cool inside by the time it arrived.  Those types of scenarios cost additional money in fuel and wages but the action we were forced to take was necessary to ensure customer satisfaction.
Sometimes, I have no idea why I live in Central California. I hate the heat, and baking in Bakersfield when it tops 100-degrees, is just pure misery.

— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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