By on May 4, 2015

This Giulietta had the optional automatic climate control, which did an admirable job.

I recently posted a column about automatic locking, wherein I reached the following conclusion: automatic locking is the worst thing in the world. Worse than being buried alive. Worse than cutting off your own toes, one by one, for sport. Worse than a college student who won’t shut up about her MacBook Air.

As I was reading through the comments section of this column, I was delighted to find that most of you agreed with me: automatic locking, bad. Regular locking, good. But I also noticed something else: most of you don’t like automatic climate control. Poor little ol’ automatic climate control, just doing its best to make your automotive experience a little more temperate. Most of you hate it. Why is that?

Personally, I love automatic climate control, and I’ve recently realized maybe half of the people who hate it simply have no idea how it works. So allow me to educate you. Here’s what happens: you set it to 72. You push “AUTO”. It then blows out whatever air is necessary to reach 72. On a hot day, it’ll blow cold air. On a cold day, it’ll blow hot air. And once it’s at 72, it stops blowing until it gets down to, say, 71, at which point it’ll blow more hot air. Just to maintain that perfect air temperature equilibrium in your life.

My girlfriend doesn’t seem to understand this. The way she thinks it works is this: you get in the car, you turn it to 85 degrees, and THEN you push “AUTO”. After several minutes, she’ll look down and wonder why the hell the car is so hot. Well, here’s why: the automatic climate control is going to blow warm air until it reaches 85 damn degrees! So then she turns it down, and she adjusts the air speed, thereby defeating the entire purpose of automatic climate control.

The thing is, automatic climate control actually works quite well when you use it properly. In my daily driver, I set it to 72 – or, if I’m feeling like I want a slightly cooler experience, 71 –and I push “AUTO”. Then the thing just blows air out for a while until I’m nice and relaxed, cruising along at precisely the temperature I wanted. Admittedly, sometimes it blows the wrong air temperature for several minutes, but I’ve always chalked this up to the fact that I drive a Land Rover, and I’m lucky the damn thing starts in the first place.

Now, where I admit automatic climate control goes a little wrong is when it becomes dual-zone automatic climate control. Here’s what I mean: the driver sets his side to 57 degrees. The passenger sets his side to 84 degrees. You know what happens? The temperature ends up being somewhere in the lukewarm 70-ish degree range throughout the entire cabin. This is because dual-zone automatic climate control is a myth: there is only one zone, and it’s called “inside the car.” As long as there’s no partition between the seats, air from the passenger side will reach the driver, and vice versa.

And then you have an even bigger lie with this new fad called “quad zone climate control.” Have you heard of this? A wide range of new luxury cars have climate control for four zones: the driver, the passenger, and both rear passengers individually. Apparently they do not realize that air blowing on the driver will likely find its way into the back and will also blow on the rear passengers, and the third-row passengers, and basically every person involved with the vehicle who has a beating heart, unless you’ve placed a family pet on the roof, Mitt Romney style.

So my point here is this: when done right – with one single zone – automatic climate control is a very good thing, and I’m very curious to find out why you don’t like it. When done wrong – with two zones, or three, or four – it can be a bit of a gimmick. In that situation, and only in that situation, I feel like it’s bad. Really bad. Not bad as central locking, of course. But worse than, say, finding your street blocked by volcanic lava. So why don’t you agree?

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158 Comments on “QOTD: Why Do You Hate Automatic Climate Control?...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    I dislike it because somehow many automakers have found a way to turn ACC into something requiring touchscreens, menus, a forest of buttons, etc. (Yes, I know it doesn’t have to be that way, but that doesn’t stop tech-crazed carmakers.)

    Manual climate control works just fine, and takes three knobs and two buttons, and never requires your eyes to leave the road. The automatic version is a solution in search of a problem.

    • 0 avatar

      Too many people are picking out their car based on how much it integrates with their phones and what not. More people are happy to get it than happy to avoid it in new cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I’ve never seen this alleged super-complex ACC system, myself.

        My Volvo has left-and-right zone knobs (with inset buttons for seat heat, but that’s a separate feature, and cleverly integrated), a knob for fan speed (which contains the “Auto” button for going back from manual mode), and a three-button set in the shape of a seated person, for “where do you want the fan to blow in manual mode?”.

        While nobody else has the cool iconic buttons-as-body-parts bit, the other systems I’ve seen have all been similar at the high level.

        (And automatic AC doesn’t need you to take your eyes off the road, either – turn the knob to change temperature, wait a minute. Bam.)

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          This. Pretty much every ACC system in any car is the same. You have an Auto button to do it automatically and temperature buttons which adjust the temperature in either automatic or manual operation. You also have buttons (or in a few cases knobs) controlling fan speed and air placement, if you want to do that manually. Finally you have an auto defrost button and A/C and recirc buttons. It’s just like a manual system, except with the addition of the auto functions.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I fully support caning engineers who design systems that require touch screens to do basic tasks.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      I hate it because I’m sitting here in a brand new rental 2018 Volvo V60 diesel and it’s 4C out (really not that cold) and I set it to max (28C) and I’m still cold. The air isn’t hot. So now I have no option but to either get out of the car and wait outside or drive around to warm it up.

      What the ****, Volvo?

  • avatar
    Ooshley

    If it actually worked the way you described it’d be great. Instead it alternates between hurricane force and asthmatic wheeze, infernal heat and plutonian cold, and I’ve yet to see one that compensates for solar irradiance. Maybe you’ve been blessed with a temperate climate in which to live, but when the Australian sun gets your interior hot enough to warp plastic (I have a CD case that’ll never be the same), you’ll see the control systems’ failing (even if the A/C is powerful enough). Personally I think it come down to not enough sensors and poor PID tuning.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      You just THINK you know how you want the air in your car to feel. The climate control knows what you really want. CONFORM, dammit!

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      You make a great point about needing to compensate for ridiculous amounts of sun. Starting about 10 years ago, Acuras started using the nav system to figure out where the sun is in relation to which way the car is facing, then compensating with more cold air on that side. I’m in a hot climate too, it seemed to work pretty well.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        Just having a compass and a clock can tell the car where the sun should be in relation to the car and thank you for pointing that out. I wonder if many other cars use that kind of information.

        My Volvo’s compass has been a bit on the wacky side and doing the calibration steps listed in the manual don’t seem to do anything. On days when the sun has an outsized influence on in-car comfort (spring & fall, very sunny) my car doesn’t seem to do so well on the climate control side of the house. Otherwise, it seems to do fine.

    • 0 avatar
      ReSa

      Older models Audi have the feature where you push AUTO for several seconds. This links both ‘Zones’, after which you use the drivers side temperature selector for both. Maybe BMW uses the same logic?

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      Our cars have sensors on the dash for determining thermal load from the sun as well as other things.

    • 0 avatar
      Jonathan H.

      My 1994 Nissan 300ZX had a sun load sensor on the dash at the base of the windshield. Its auto climate system seemed to handle the blistering rays okay.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        Our 1991 LS does this. If you’re creeping up to a stoplight going in and out of the shade of trees you can hear the fan speed slightly change as you move between sun and shade. Every climate control car has one, it’s the only effective way to make the system predictive rather than reactive.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      If you’ve never seen one that compensates for the sun, you haven’t been looking very hard. My Taurus SHO had a dash sun sensor for that purpose all the way back in 1989. My Acura TSX had one too, and my G8 has one.

    • 0 avatar
      theirishscion

      Solar Irradiance?

      Heh. Prepare to have your mind blown :-)

      I have both a Honda (’11 Pilot) and an Acura (’08 RDX) that do exactly that, they have sunlight sensors in the dash to determine brightness, and they have a connection between the AAC and the GPS system that allows them to determine which window the bulk of the sunlight is shining in, and how high in the sky the sun is (and hence how much of that sun should be making it into the cab)

      Works pretty well too, and yes, I did try driving around in slow circles to see the compensation between front left, right and rear zones when I first got the Pilot. T’was pretty cool (geddit!) though mostly in a ‘look what you can do when you have access to all these sensors and systems and have bored engineers on your hands’ sort of way.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    i like automatic climate control (ACC) in our BMW except that it can’t be locked into one zone. if you are alone in the car and you want uniformity you have to adjust both knobs. makes no sense because like you said dual ACC is a compromise.

    we also have dual acc in our mazda cx-9 and it can be locked which is nice. however, it will randomly alternate where the air comes out; defrost, floor, and regular vents. i haven’t figured out why it alternates or changes but suddenly i’ll be getting a burst of air in my face when i was perfectly fine. kind of annoying.

    but i’m with you. i like ACC and my wife does not get the concept. she turns on the manual after i set the ACC and i am like:
    “why did you do that?”
    “i was hot.”
    “well then turn down the temp and give it a second! (in my best louis c.k. voice) could ya… GIVE it a second?!”

    no matter how many times i demonstrate it she wants the immediate change of switching it to manual instead of waiting 5 seconds for the ACC to adjust. grrrrrrr….

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Our 2014 Rav4 has a sync button that sets both zones to the same temp and lets the driver side dial control both zones. If the passenger turns the passenger side dial, it automatically turns the sync feature off and lets each zone operate individually.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      The W166 does is the same way because they use mechanical knows to indicate the individual temperature.

    • 0 avatar
      ReSa

      Older models Audi have the feature where you push AUTO for several seconds. This links both ‘Zones’, after which you use the drivers side temperature selector for both. Maybe BMW uses the same logic?

    • 0 avatar

      Quite frankly, most cars—including Bimmers—have a button that syncs the driver and passenger-side climate controls; that yours does not is odd. If it’s the E90, I believe the pre-LCI (pre-facelift) ones had a “REST” button, which utilizes residual engine heat to warm the cabin when the car is off, but post-LCI ones dropped the REST button and function, and added an “ALL” button in that spot…which does sync the driver and passenger sides.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And the best part is that on the post LCI cars with ALL you can code the button back to REST. I have mine set for REST functionality in the winter and ALL functionality in the summer. Though I so rarely change it from 70F that it doesn’t really matter. I use Doug’s most hated switch in the world for fine tuning.

        I find my e91’s climate control system to be perfect. The Auto A/C in my Abarth was pretty worthless, and I used it in manual mode 99% of the time. I have owned various cars in-between. My Range Rover’s works fine other than I prefer more blower than it wants to generally provide. The BMW lets you adjust this, newer Rovers probably do too.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Also have BMW and just got rid of CX-9 and can say nearly the same thing. However, our Mazda didn’t have random air circulation, but it did “pause” the fan occasionally for no good reason. Never figured it out, now it’s someone elses problem. My wife did the same damn thing; she’d set it on 65, turn off the recirc, turn off the AC and diddle with the fan speed, adjust the vents to blow at feet and face on a warm sunny day. My favorite thing to do was to get in, set it to 72, push the Auto button and proceed to ruin all her hard work.
      My e60 uses the old hated iDrive which means setting the climate is a pain in the arse so thankfully she doesn’t fiddle with mine nearly as much. The previous article about the BMW/RR wheel in the center of the dash applies to this car, except that it’s in an iDrive menu. Same concept; you set the control to 72 but then get into the menu to change the intensity of that 72 (which makes no sense to me either).
      I just fixed the thermister in her new/old w220 so I’m curious how she’ll fiddle with this one.
      And for the record I absolutely love auto climate. Got it for the first time in my 92 Volvo 960 and haven’t had a car without it since. Your home furnace doesn’t have an unmarked heat/cool slider and a variable fan control, why should your car? I so dislike diddling with the dumb knobs trying to guess how far into the red zone a comfortable temperature is.
      I love auto climate so much, I wish all points of my car were temp-controlled the same way. I love my heated steering wheel, love heated/cooled seats, they’re fantastic! Heat the shift knob and door handles while you’re at it! Bring on the computers, extra wires, funny sensors and all the delightful complication they require! I’ve fixed ’em before, I’ll fix ’em again, they’re totally worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        ” Same concept; you set the control to 72 but then get into the menu to change the intensity of that 72 (which makes no sense to me either).”

        Makes sense to me.

        I find in my Volvo it’s kind of annoying to get in a warm car and have my hands *frozen* with icy air as it tries to achieve the set 70 degrees.

        Telling it “you can take your time a little getting there” (“intensity”) would be helpful.

        Makes me want the BMW-style body-vent-temperature-adjust wheel I hear so much about, and that some people hate so much.

  • avatar

    Depends on what car it’s in. The Europeans seem a bit better at it. My Subaru had a mind of it’s own and I often had to put it in manual to get what i wanted. My Volvo is much better once I got the system working again.

    • 0 avatar
      Saxphile

      Agreed on Subaru’s climate control being pretty crappy. The system in my ’10 Legacy wagon (yes we got those in New Zealand) appears to applying the following weights to sensor inputs:

      Outside temperature: 10%
      Inside temperature: 10%
      Ambient light sensor on dashboard: 80%

      Drives me nuts. The Germans really do it better in the following order: BMW > VAG > MB (pretty large sample size due to the rest of my extended family buying all manners of German autos). Having said that, the larger Honda and Toyota cars (e.g., Accord and Camry) do pretty well as well. The smaller ones often don’t have enough refrigeration capacity to really cool the cabin effectively.

      • 0 avatar

        same car, same place, same problem. It will blow at max for ages just because there is plenty of sun but the cabin is not that hot. At other times when the temp setting is close to the ambient outside temperature it will blow gentle warm air when it should be gentle cooling or vice versa.

        In my old E90, I really liked the REST button to keep the cabin warm while I shot out to a store or whatever

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      My ’13 Forester has the worst auto climate control of any car I’ve ever owned, but it’s still better than manual.

  • avatar
    arpinum

    The real issue is digital controls, not auto climate control.
    First gen Lexus IS has auto climate control with three simple analog controls for the entire HVAC system. Stupid simple to use, nothing that could break, and never gave me a problem. Much better than constantly monitoring the engine temp gauge.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I’ve had ACC in a few cars, and it was good in 2 of the 3.

    The exception was the Juke. It was the Special Olympics of climate control.

    Say it was 50 degrees outside, and I only wanted a mild 65 degees in the car. Well the ACC thought it knew what I REALLY wanted, so it blew hot air, getting it far warmer than my target temperature. In fact, if the outside temperature is below 60, then ANY automatic setting above 60 degrees blew hot air. 60 degrees would blow freezing cold air. A setting of 61 degrees would blow hot air. It was IMPOSSIBLE for me to be comfortable in that car in the wintertime. At first I thought it just needed time to “stabilize.” But I was wrong. Even after driving for over an hour, the POS did the same thing. I should add that the behavior was the same whether in auto mode or manual. Imagine driving the car in mid-December with the temperature set on 61 degrees and the windows cracked open to keep from sweating.

    Eventually I just stopped driving it in cold weather and took the Focus (r.i.p.) to work when it wasn’t warm.

    I really, REALLY like old fashioned, low-tech climate control.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Most automatic climate control simply doesn’t work well. 72 degrees might be perfect when the sun is behind the clouds, but as soon as the sun peeks out you roast at that temperature – the “auto” climate control takes too long to figure out that the cabin has heated up.

    Give me three knobs – where, how much, and how hot/cold.

  • avatar
    Ion

    ACC was the main option I wanted when I chose a new car. I simply got tired of figuring out how much red was just right when too much blue was too cold and vice versa.

    • 0 avatar
      mechaman

      Wonder why it isn’t standard in most cars? Surely it couldn’t cost as much as the screen systems (attention, Honda, Acura, yours’ SUCK) in most cars today.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        @mechaman because it isn’t cost that is the problem. If a dealer had two identical cars I wanted, and one came with ACC and the other did not, I would take the one without…for all the reasons mentioned here, but especially because the automatic ones are prone to fail a high percentage of the time when older, and it is a total day-ruining project to fix yourself, or a budget ruining one to have someone do it.

        For me, the mental math goes like this: Estimated cost to repair a failed unit times the probability that the unit will fail during its life with me, is the mathematically expected cost.

        And since I, and many car buyers, figure the probability of failure over the practical lifespan of a car to be high, and since we all know the repair cost will be high IF it fails, we decide that it will end costing us on average hundreds of dollars. It is like a hidden tax on the vehicle.

        Unless you have manual climate control, in which case both your cost and probability of failure are much lower, making the effective cost of manual control very small by comparison.

        As a side benefit, I don’t have to worry about my SO playing dual ACC banjos with me.

        And the auto marketers are smart enough to figure this out. Net result, few cars with ACC, just enough to satisfy those who don’t reckon the lifetime cost, and just want to have that extra little bit of “luxury” and ersatz convenience.

        No reason at all to wonder why it isn’t standard. Standard is the preferred option for most, and if you take that away, you will be at a competitive disadvantage as a result.

        I always see forum threads beginnning “my EATC (ACC) has stopped working. How can I fix it?” and almost never, “my climate control (manual) has stopped working…”

        It is the KISS principle in action.

        • 0 avatar
          mechaman

          Can’t argue with your points. It’s just that I was thinking of a thermostat in a building; usually, you set it and its’ done. Numbers and everything. Then I got to thinking about the differences between cars and buildings – bang went that argument.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The spring and fall are especially where ACC shines. I was driving around yesterday afternoon with the HVAC set to cool on in my non-ACC FR-S… temp dial all the way on cool, air in the upper vents, and the blower at 2. This morning, temps are in the mid 50s. I turn the first dial to direct the air to the floor. The second dial drops the blower to 1. The third dial I turn to 1/2 warm. I turned 3 different dials as soon as I got in the car… and it required further fiddling as I drove to work. On our Rav4, I usually just hit the Auto button and go. Of course, I wouldn’t even have to hit the Auto button if my wife didn’t try to outsmart the machine and mess with the blower fan speed. The Rav4’s ACC is so consistent and dialed in that it needs just a dial for temp and the front defogger button. It works great.

    This topic reminds me of a guy that did a “mod” on his WRX so that the A/C compressor didn’t come on when he would have the defogger come on so that the parasitic drag of the A/C compressor wouldn’t hurt his performance or gas mileage.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    It’s troubling that we give driver’s licenses to people that can’t figure out how to work ACC.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I think it’s way more troubling that we give driver’s licenses to people who don’t know how to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        I think it is way more troubling that there are alleged drivers on the road who are oblivious to the fact that a light has turned green.

        The only redeeming part is that they are usually ahead of me while they are that unconscious, and not speeding towards me.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I like acc. Have it on a BMW, Toyota, Nissan, and my house. On the Nissan, I can start it from my phone so the car can figure out if it needs to be cooled or warmed when I’m not there. Can’t do that with a manual system.

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    Why do I hate it? It is usually broken when I buy a 10 to 20 year old car.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      What do you find that breaks? So many cars don’t use cables and vacuum any more, as if those didn’t have problems after 20 years, so really the same compressor, electric doors and variable blower is controlled either by knobs or an ACC brain.

      ACC on my 15 year old lexus works great. I did add some r134a recently but that would have been the case with any system.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    My car has the dual zone automatic climate control. I can say the only time the wife and I have used it was by accident. The auto part is great, but dual zone is useless.

    What is more annoying is that automakers insist on having the A/C compressor run when the defroster is on.

    I understand this is to provide dry air the help defog the windshield, but at least give me the option of turning it off. The last car I remember giving the driver this option was my mother’s 1991 Escort.

    In the winter, the air is dry enough that this isn’t necessary. Straight heat will do the job just fine. I don’t need to be using that little extra fuel to run that compressor once the windshield is deiced.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      In principle I’m with you on the condenser-defroster issue, but in practice there are far too many people who are clueless about the advantage running the A/C provides in humid conditions. From time to time on rainy days you still see some idiots completely fogged in (probably not running A/C but with recirc on), but thankfully I’ve seen less and less in the last two decades, most likely because of this feature.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      ” I don’t need to be using that little extra fuel to run that compressor once the windshield is deiced.”

      Holy crap Ebeneezer, that extra fuel?? Must be costing you a fortune!

      To say nothing of cars using the A/C on with defrost as a way to run the compressor year round so as to keep seals from drying out, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, I *never* turned the AC off in my old Toyota pickup.

        As a consequence, the compressor was working just fine 18 years later when I traded it in.

        It takes a lot of fuel savings to pay for a new compressor when you leave it off for too long.

        (Especially today, when so many compressors are electrically driven … yes, naturally there’s more alternator load, but it IS more efficient.)

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        What an old wives’ tale. You don’t need to run the A/C very often. My ex-girlfriend drives a 23-year-old Mazda MX-6. She doesn’t like wasting resources so she avoids A/C and the defrost-only position. Her compressor turns on maybe twenty times a year, all between June and August. It still works fine and has never been serviced. Her home A/C that gets used maybe ten days a year in July and August? Yeah, that works fine too.

        Same story with my mother’s 17-year-old Sunfire and her home A/C. We were taught by my father to only use the defrost-only position with A/C on when necessary, and none of us have had any problems with our A/C systems. I even modified the circuit board on my HVAC unit of my Mazda3 so that it only activates on my command. I barely use it, though I do make an effort to run it once a month during six of the nine months that it’s totally unnecessary in my dry, northern climate. The other three are simply too cold for a compressor to activate. My average fuel economy over the 11 years I’ve owned this vehicle is better than the EPA highway rating, and I don’t think I could say that if I were needlessly spinning my A/C compressor all the time.

        I can tolerate A/C turning on automatically in the defrost only position – especially if I can then choose to turn it off – but my Mazda3 was set to run the A/C in defrost/floor and floor-only settings too, with no option to turn it off. Ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      My manual-control ’04 Passat leaves it up to the driver to turn on A/C when in Defrost.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        Most manual systems make it easy as 1 2 3 to defrost.

        In every car I can remember being in long enough to require defrosting, there were the usual three controls, and turning all three as far clockwise as they went, would guarantee a quickly defrosted windshield.

        Clockwise, clockwise, clockwise. Instant defrost.

        Even a chimp could do this, at 70mph on a crowded highway, with reduced visibility due to a foggy or icy windshield, without having to think or be distracted in the least.

    • 0 avatar
      swilliams41

      In humid areas with mild winters looking at the idiots drive around with fogged up windows is sad. You want to shout, turn on the a/c compressor mo-ron! Welcome to Texas.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If it is cold out (<~40F in most cars), the A/C compressor won't run anyway. In most climates, if it is above 40F you will want the dehumidification anyway unless you live in a desert. Modern variable displacement compressors use absolutely miniscule amounts of extra fuel at low cooling loads.

      Astounds me how many completely fogged up cars I see on the road in the winter.

  • avatar

    I could have written this article.. I agree with every word. I press 6 9 and Auto and may not touch the auto climate control for months at a time. Only really touch it two times. On days within a few to 10 degrees below 69 when it thinks it needs to blow heat but because it’s stuffy you really need some cool air and when you need to clear the front windshield like when it snows.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Exactly. Occasionally I change the temperature setting, but I love my ACC because without it I’m twiddling knobs every minute or two and constantly too hot or too cold.

  • avatar
    turf3

    I read all the comments. I’ve had automatic climate control in a number of cars from a 1966 Pontiac to my current 2009 Volvo. Never had any issues. I’ve had manual as well, in a number of cars, and never had any issue there except in my ’87 Mazda I often wished for a thermostat on long drives, because AC would get too cold and I disapprove of bleeding hot air into the cold air rather than just cycling the compressor – but it wouldn’t cycle the compressor, it would only bleed hot air. If I didn’t need cold air, why keep making it (and consuming fuel to drive the compressor), and then reheat it?

    But other than that, I have not had any real issues. I think I have been lucky with ACC in not getting a bad design.

    I think that the people who hate ACC actually hate the bad implementations.

    In my Volvo, for example, there are two knobs (passenger and driver side, yes, I understand the idea of “dual zone” is stupid in a car this size) with the actual target settings in F. I just rotate each knob to the desired setting and I am done. If I had to go through this touchscreen BS, I would probably want to rip the SOB out and replace it with a potentiometer and a switch. I dread the next new car hunt when I go trying to find a car that can be controlled like a car not a tweenie’s latest cellphone/Ipad/tablet doohickey. Can we please put adults back in charge of designing automobile ergonomics?

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I’m pretty sure most (all?) cars regulate cold by bleeding hot air into the stream while running the A/C. Because of sunlight, a small space, directed airflow, and uninsulated windows, the temperature simply changes too quickly to regulate temperature by cycling the compressor. (The fan being on all the time would cause a wave of muggy air to come out of the vents every time the A/C cycled off)

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No all modern cars cycle their AC compressor, with or without automatic climate control, though some do it more than others. It does not cause a wave of muggy air when it cycles off. The system dumps liquid refregerant into the evaporator and it keeps producing cold until after it has all evaporated. So unless there is max demand like 110 degrees the system cycles on and off. There are a few cars that still use the thermostatic expansion valve so they need a much lower load before they cycle.

        However they still use a blend door to dial in an exact temp. Depending on the desired temp, the ambient temp, temp in the car and the exact design of the system it can blend cooled air and outside air, heated air and outside air or cooled and heated air. Again this is independent of whether the system is automatic or manual.

        • 0 avatar
          dgcamero

          Not all cars cycle the compressor, on my MKV VW, the compressor doesn’t even have a clutch. The system simply adjusts the displacement of the compressor. When it is getting cold in the car, it will blend in hot air, but it simply reduces the compressor to minimum displacement to maintain the set temperature under most air conditioning conditions. Mine has Climatic, which means it automatically regulates the temperature to achieve setpoint, but you manually control the vent distribution and fan speed. I move it from 72 maybe 10 times per year. The automatic dual zone system in the Ford Flex and Explorer is similar, but it does have a clutch to completely deactivate the compressor when you turn the A/C switch off.

  • avatar
    raph

    I like it, get the cabin where I want it and don’t have to worry about it. Pretty straight forward even with Ford My Touch.

  • avatar
    redav

    I have two cars with auto climate control. In one, a 2014 Japanese car, I would say it genuinely works better than I expected, and it basically sold me on the tech. On the other, a 2007 GM car, it insists on changing the recirculate setting, and by “changing” I mean “turning off.” I get that the the designers think recirculate is something special for when you need to cool air quickly and such, but here in the real world where the outside air is horribly nasty, I know what I want, and I want a system that stays on recirculate 100% of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      The recirculate feature turns off after a fixed period of time so that the passenger compartment gets some fresh air. The cars with perpetually fogged interior windows are the result of the recirculate feature not automatically turning itself off.

      Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, moisture, and Taco Bell necessitate that the recirculate option not stay on perpetually. The automakers are saving you from yourself. Plus your passengers probably don’t want to marinate in your juices.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        No. On the one car with auto climate, it stays on recirculate forever, likewise on all other cars I’ve owned.

        My cars are not submarines. Their doors and windows open. Air is exchanged. CO, CO2, etc., levels are a non-issue for all but the most ridiculous scenarios. I don’t have foggy windows because the AC dries the air. And I don’t eat taco bell much less allow it in my car.

        I don’t need saving by the automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      No wonder I see so many Asian cars with fogged windows.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Recirc settings only recirculate a portion of the air, for some obvious reasons, and in reality it is just a bypass trapdoor opening inside the cabin to the intake. Outside smells and nastiness still can come right into the cabin.

        So the trade off to avoiding smells with recirc is they still get into the car, and hang around longer as you pass some of the smelly air back through the system…

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          But it is far less than non-recirculate, and I don’t notice the smells lingering (as much as I would by simply opening up to the outside air).

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Only crappy cars have recirc settings that still allow outside air into the car via the climate control system. The good ones have a door with seals that have a binary position. Either all the way open or all the way closed.

    • 0 avatar
      swilliams41

      recir 100% can cause carbon monoxide build up in the cabin or moisture build up. My 2003 BMW had a smog sensor that would go into recir mode if the outside air was smoky or very bad. I know a few other makes do this as well.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    It was fine in my Z. Worked really well, actually.

  • avatar
    Toad

    The problem is people are stupid. They don’t read the car manual, don’t understand how the HVAC in the car (or their home) works, don’t want to listen if somebody tries to patiently explain how the system does work, and then complain that the car is to hot, cold, windows are fogged, etc. ACC is an attempt to solve this problem for most and add convenience for all.

    How many cars have you ridden in where, when the interior gets cool, the driver turns the manual HVAC temperature control to HOT, then turns the fan to HIGH, then leaves it that way until the car is a sauna, then turns the fan completely off until the car returns to refrigerator status? Of course the process is reversed on a hot day.

    Or the car next to you at a traffic light with all of the inside windows completely fogged up because the driver has never turned off the “recirculate” button? Or the driver who gets in a cold car and turns the heat to hot and fan to the highest level without waiting for the engine to warm up enough to do any good, then complains about the cold air coming into the car.

    ACC does a great job at making the car interior comfortable if the driver is smart enough to set the temperature and (more or less) leave it alone. Since most drivers cannot really figure out how to optimize manual controls ACC is definitely a better option for most car owners; the computer is smarter than the driver.

    Sometimes I feel bad for automotive engineers; instead of spending their time creating truly great and interesting features they are figuring out how to make things like the HVAC completely idiot proof.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “How many cars have you ridden in where, when the interior gets cool, the driver turns the manual HVAC temperature control to HOT, then turns the fan to HIGH, then leaves it that way until the car is a sauna, then turns the fan completely off until the car returns to refrigerator status? Of course the process is reversed on a hot day.”
      – Honestly, never.

      “Or the car next to you at a traffic light with all of the inside windows completely fogged up because the driver has never turned off the “recirculate” button? ”
      – Again, I can’t think of any.

      “Or the driver who gets in a cold car and turns the heat to hot and fan to the highest level without waiting for the engine to warm up enough to do any good, then complains about the cold air coming into the car.”
      – And again, I can’t say that’s ever happened.

      I don’t know about the people you hang with, but the people around here don’t seem to be stupid.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I have automatic climate control on my 14 Accord. It works very well. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it will blow cold air in my face for a while when it starts up in heating mode (the cabin temperature is lower than the setpoint). As the inside temperature rises, and the car warms up, the cold air exiting the upper vents subsides. I have not found a setting that seems to affect this, but I haven’t looked too hard either.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      It should remain off in cold weather until the engine warms, provided that the fan is under control of the system (the graph isn’t showing on the controls).

      And if you haven’t manually selected a mode setting, the air will blow primarily out of the floor vents (with a little through the side dash vents), and through all dash vents in warmer weather.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    Give me manual HVAC controls over ACC any day.

    The proposed concept that “owners don’t know how to work ACC” isn’t the problem.

    The calibration and implementation of the factory systems in the cars I’ve driven don’t align to my preference.

    My biggest pet peeve is once up to temp, the “maintaining” of cabin temp in a heat setting is annyoning. Often it will blow luke warm air at a higher volume, where I’d much prefer “hot” air at a very low volume. The difference on a frigid day likely has to do with cabin dynamics/windchill/external air temp/etc., but it’s far more comfortable to not have a steady breeze.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      That’s my complaint with it as well. I really dislike high fan settings and every acc system I’ve tried uses them to make the system responds faster. I never leave acc on as a result.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        Some are better than others, but the newer ones will allow you to set a preference for fan speed to maintain the current temp. My 11 year old BMW does this; set your temp, choose high/med/low fan speed to keep it that way. Of course I love low, as I don’t care to hear a lot of wind noise nor do I care for a a faceful of air.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Again that is a poor implementation, the systems I have go to a minimum fan speed unless the ambient temp is very low or very high or the sunload is high. They also allow you to set a fixed fan speed if desired.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    I love it. I have had it in several cars of different makes. This is technology that, IIRC, GM originated about 50 years ago. They called it “Comfortron.” (You could write a great article about where all the terrific midcentury automotive adjectives went, but I digress.) The technology has only gotten better as the sensors and chips have evolved. The only time it doesn’t work is when some ying-yang gets in and starts fiddling with it. It is a little hard to say calmly, “You set it to 72. You press AUTO. And then you don’t f*** with it, you idiot!” But I try.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    Because for added cost, complexity and weight I am getting a solution to a problem that does not exist.

    Because it does not normally know how to compensate for sunlight

    Because of the delay to adjust the air temp after changing the desired temp.

    Because the programming does not know quite what I want.

    Because I seem to be the opposite of Doug in every opinion.

    Give me automatic locks over acc any day ☺

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Weight? Zero additional. “Manual” AC has the same set of actuators and flaps.

      Complexity? Trivial – again, same mechanicals, just different dials and some software.

      Cost? Again, trivial – it’s in expensive option packages *sometimes*, but it doesn’t really actually cost more to build.

      (Now, preference? Can’t argue that. But the systems get better every year, and more customizable to preference.

      And I prefer it not being perfect to having to fiddle with the dials every ten minutes to tweak the temperature on a manual system, on a long drive.)

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I love the automatic climate control on my 2004 3-series. I will never own another car without it. “set it and forget it”. Very useful on hot and cold days. Once nice detail – on cold days the fan stays low until the coolant reaches a certain temp. No sense in blowing around cold air.

    Dual zone auto climate control? While I doubt anyone ever uses it for 57F driver / 84F passenger, it at least gives people that warm fuzzy feeling about spending extra for DUAL ZONE instead just REGULAR single-zone auto CC. Also, I don’t see single-zone auto CC being offered much these days. It’s usually manual or auto dual-zone. This is true on even “basic” cars like the Focus and Mazda3.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Oh I have a VERY clear memory of a long road trip in the 2011 Accord with the dual set at 90 degrees on my fiancee’s side and 60 degrees on mine. I remarked that we needed a plexiglass divider to split the car down the middle.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        Really? Why?

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          Total metabolism extremes I guess. When I’m comfortable, she’s wearing a sweater. When she’s comfortable, I’m sweating my @ss off.

          Perfect example is today. It’s about 86 degrees out, and when I got home the AC was off and all the windows in the house were open. That just wasn’t going to cut it. I shut the windows and turned on the central. I feel fine, but she’s chilly. Just the way it is.

          The one common ground (and thank goodness for THAT) is that we both like to sleep in a cold room. But we require different amounts of “layers”- trying to keep a comforter covering only half the bed all night can be a challenge. ;)

          • 0 avatar
            mechaman

            Yeah, dual zones. Like smoking and non-smoking areas right next to each other in a restaurant..

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Why did you marry a lizard?”

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The dual is actually useful for creating just a few degrees of difference, maintained by the air blowing straight at your zone. In my G8 it’s typically set between 69 and 72 on my side and between 75 and 78 on my wife’s. It’s just enough to keep both of us comfortable.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    Once i discovered the automatic climate control, i promised myself that i will never ever again purchase a car with manual knobs.

    In addition to automatically reaching the desired temperature, it also knows (from my experience with Volvo and Infinity anyway) where to blow to reach that temperature. For example, if it’s hot air, it’ll blow through lower registers and for cold AC air it’ll blow through top registers. It took me some time to figure out why my face was flushed after using rental car; never a problem with automatic climate control.

    • 0 avatar
      mjsprad

      The ACC on my 2014 Mazda 3 is fantastic. As you mentioned in your experience with Volvo and Infinity, it “knows” to blow heat on the lower registers and AC up top, and on cold mornings it even defrosts my windshield before switching over to heat. In one year of ownership, I’ve probably only ever had to override the ACC a handful of times (usually to let the defroster run a little longer). Other than that, it has been flawless.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Yes. I kind of like our 2011 Hyundai system because the CC flow diagram flashes when it changes venting direction. My 2004 BMW does not indicate where the air is being directed.

      In addition, on cold days many auto CC systems will not increase fan speed until the coolant temp reaches a minimum temperature. The car knows it’s cold outside, the car knows you set the temp to 72F, but the the car also knows the coolant temp is only 30F…so there is no sense in blasting cold air around the cabin.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      I get that blowing hot air, which rises, through the floor vents, and blowing cold air, which falls, through the top registers, make sense from a temp distribution standpoint…but that ignores the fact that in a cold car, one of the very first things you want the HVAC to do is defrost the windshield, so that is demanding an immediate override, almost as soon as you start the engine.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Every ACC system I’ve used has a one-touch button that optimizes the settings for defrost. Usually this means windshield vents, A/C on (with hotter temperature to compensate), and higher fan speed. Foggy? Hit the button. Not foggy anymore? Hit it again.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Again crappy implementation is the problem. On the systems in my cars when it is cold and/or the humidity sensor senses a certain level of humidity it defrost/defogs. It will start running the fan on its lowest setting on pure defrost when the car and outside are cold, then as the coolant warms up it will slowly ramp up the fan and start putting warm air out the floor. After a certain amount of time if the humidity sensor isn’t showing really really humid air it will switch to something like 90-95% floor and 5-10% defrost.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I like acc. I like multi zone acc if the interface is good.

    My wife hates it. She wants to control the fan directly. She thinks she can get results more quickly than the machine because she can’t wait the 15 seconds it takes the machine to get started. I wait until she makes things terrible before I switch the thing back on.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      What is it about some people? After 1.5 years, my wife still doesn’t understand how to use her incredibly simple auto CC. I told her, just press AUTO and set the temp you want. She still doesn’t understand…? It’s even easier than her last car with fully manual CC!!!

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      At the risk of being sexist, I’ve come to suspect that it’s a gender thing. My wife always believes that cranking a control to max is going to speed up the operation in some way, when all it does is causes you to overshoot the desired mark requiring yet another max adjustment. She does it in the car, in the house, anywhere there is a temp control. I’ve long given up trying to explain my masculine logic, and just wait for the whipsawing to settle down to the happy medium she wanted in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I shall take the same risk and agree with you. However, I will take an additional step and just say that most people (women being a subset thereof) are clueless morons therefore making me a sexist AND an a-hole.

  • avatar
    blueflame6

    The trouble with dual-zone climate control is when you get warm, moist, unstable air on one side of the car and cool, dry air on the other side, sunshine to cause some convection and tiny little thunderstorms form between you and your passenger.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    The main reason I don’t like it and don’t use it is that invariably the car is not at the proper temperature when you engage it and I cannot stand the fan blowing heat or AC at full tilt. I find the noise more disturbing than the uncomfortable temperature. Also, I find that I just want a temperature that feels comfortable, adjusting to a numeric value on the thermometer doesn’t always guarantee that when taking into account sun and other factors.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    The problem isn’t auto climate control, it’s moving away from the 3-knob system. Too many things to mess with. My old RSX had probably the best and easiest auto climate system I’ve used.

    Knob 1: Fan speed with an auto setting.
    Knob 2: Temperature
    Knob 3: Air direction with an auto setting.

    You can easily make it do whatever you want, but if you leave knobs 1 and 3 on auto and just adjust the temperature knob, the car does exactly what it needs to based on the temperature. It’s not that hard, I don’t know why more cars aren’t set up like this.

    And yeah, while auto is good, dual-zone sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      This does look like the best of both worlds system! Can you control the AC on/off when using defrost? And during the summer, does it cycle the AC on/off or does it add heat to set temperature?

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Sounds like the same system as in my 2nd gen CR-V, and the 3rd gen had a similar one but with dual zone (that can be locked to single)
      As long as you use it manually, dual zone isn’t too bad actually. it lets one person get warm air on their feet and one person get cold air in their face.
      And I too think it’s the best of both worlds.
      I don’t hate ACC, I just don’t believe it really exists…
      Oh, and btw, the compressor is clutched, so it doesn’t run at all unless you use cold air. Which sucks, because Honda couldn’t make the clutched system work as long as the rest of the car so it will fail, and it is expensive to fix…

  • avatar
    ReSa

    I’m a lover. The only issue that I have with the one in my ’03 Audi A4 is the air vent selection. I hate the vents that are directly aimed toward you, but the Climate Control seems to use those for 70% of the time. Deselect those vents, and you’re done fiddling with fan speed, ac warmer/colder for weeks on end.

    I never get these people that have Climate Control, yet always randomly and manually mess around with the controls: AC on/off, fan speed up/down, temp up/down. Followed by fogging up the windows in humid conditions and an array of swearwords…

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    The big complaint I seem to hear about automatic A/C is when you start the car, you get a big blast of whatever temperature air is currently in the ducts before the right temp starts kicking in. To avoid that, I recommend shutting the system off before turning off the key.

    In dual zone mode, better just to give in to the wife’s request for temperature change and set it for both sides.

    I recall a GM technical spec that said although their cars have dual zone, the passenger’s setting really only varies the driver’s setting by +/- 2 degrees. Most of the GM AC units were just blue/red dials with no temp readouts. So nobody noticed.

    • 0 avatar
      Carilloskis

      On my 2010 Ford F-150 when it’s cold out it doesn’t blow air until the engine gets up to temp unless you manually override the truck or turn on defrost. Ford gives you a nob so it’s easy to adjust the temp up or down a few degrees without having to mix and match hot and cold air. The dual zone in the truck works pretty well My mom ride with me once and she likes driving at 80 degrees while I like 68 I could feel a wall of heat as I reached across the cab. Most cars are poorly insulated so the air coming out of the vents determines the temperature the best.

  • avatar
    slance66

    My complaint is that it runs the fan at max. I can’t stand the noise nor do I ever want air coming at me from the vent at that velocity. If the fan topped out at say, level 3, I’d use it all the time. I’ve used it in many cars and they all do the same thing. It’s better for heat than cold-A/C, and doesn’t seem to crank the fan. I like that in winter it doesn’t blow any air until the car is warm enough.

  • avatar

    My Jetta SportWagen did not have, and was not available with, automatic climate control…which irritated me because I had to make constant adjustments. My Golf SportWagen has it, though, and it works brilliantly. Plus, the interface is uncluttered and nothing needs to be accessed through the infotainment screen.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    My issue with auto climate control is twofold…it usually directs air out of the vents I would not choose, and it selects a fan speed I would not choose. I think most people want a compromise between getting the cabin to the desired temp in the quickest time, balanced with not getting air coming out where we don’t want it to and not having the fan coming on too strong.

    These systems have one mission – reach the setpoint ASAP. When it’s 10 degrees out, I want to get warm, but I’m not trying to completely dry out my contact lenses, and when it’s 90, I want to cool off, not to have my fingers, which are resting on the wheel six inches from the vents, turn white and go numb.

    My other problem with ACC is…go look at the section in your manual that deals with the ACC – I’ll wait. Bum-bada-bum bum…OK, you’re back. Yes, that’s right…it’s 40 pages long. Screw that.

    My 2011 GTI has what I consider perfect…it’s a semi-automatic system. It has a thermostat and a couple of well-located temp sensors. I control where the air comes out, with a simple rotary dial. I control how fast the fan runs, with a simple rotary dial. The third simple rotary dial has actual temperature numbers on it, rather than just blue and red like a manual system, and there is a recirc button and an A/C button – that’s it.

    Yes, if the outside air temp is higher than I want cabin temp to be, I have to hit the A/C button. Yes, if the outside air is too much hotter or colder than the desired cabin temp, I will have to run the fan at a higher speed. I can handle that.

    And thank you, thank you, thank you for pointing out what a load of unmitigated BS multi-zone HVAC in a vehicle is, with one possible exception…rear A/C in a vehicle with really large interior volume and distances, like a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      “it’s 40 pages long. Screw that.”

      Wow, that must be a complex car. I just checked the manual for my 2014 Nissan: 2.5 pages explaining the HVAC controls; it would all fit on a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, and it was written to a middle school reading level. If that is to complex there is a quick reference guide that boils the whole HVAC system (vents and all) to about a page and a half written to a 5th grade level. Maybe 2 minutes to read.

      The average car new car costs over $30k. Is it too much effort for an owner to read the directions so that they know how the vehicle works and how to get the most out of it? A car buff usually invests hours to research what to buy, taking test drives, and negotiating the price; is it too much effort to read the f-ing manual to actually figure out how the vehicle operates?

      BTW, when I bought my Nissan I actually did read the manual, and the HVAC has an obscure button that constantly allows cool air to gently blow out of the defrost vents to keep the dash from radiating heat. Had I not read the manual I would never have known.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        No, they are not really 40 pages long – I exaggerated for effect…that’s a well-known device, but perhaps not as well known at the middle school reading level.

        And I’m impressed with the Nissan manual. That’s pretty concise.

        And yes, I do read my owner’s manual.

        But part one of my complaints stands – these systems are trying too hard to reach setpoint and people end up overriding the fan speed, and they invariably decide upon a choice of air outlets that is at odds with what the occupants want, so they end up overriding that, too.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’ve owned five vehicles with ACC in my life, four of them with dual-zone systems. All five were easy to understand and allowed the user to use them as manual systems if desired (I did not desire) with minimal difficulty. Granted, none of the five was German.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        In my experience, the Germans do this better than anyone else. The Japanese pretty much suck at it. Americans somewhere in the middle, though usually with the often mentioned waay too much fan blowing.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The problem with ACC is that it doesn’t work well when it gets very hot or very cold.

    On hot days, the system will aim a jet exhaust at you until the AC kicks in.

    On cold days it will again run full blast, blowing cold air before the engine has a chance to warm-up. On top of that, you typically want to clear the windshield first, and then move the airflow down to your feet once the view is clear, which means that you have to operate the damn thing manually.

    So you have an “automatic” system that consistently assaults you with a maximum-power blast of air that’s at the exact wrong temperature, and that requires you to enter multiple over-rides whenever the outside temp dips below “don’t need climate control.” It’s like babysitting somebody else’s loud ADD child.

    Other than that, I’m sure ACC works fine if the outside temp only varies by a few degrees each day.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’ve never had an ACC system that turned on before the engine warmed up, and that includes the ’89 SHO.

      As for the hot air when you need cool, you need to get fresh air into the vents and cool down the system somehow. You’re always going to get hot air at first, whether you turn on the system immediately or suffer for a few minutes before turning it on. This is true in manual systems too.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    i dont like it because it assumes that the perception of temp is constant. it’s not. sometimes 75 is cold and sometimes 75 is hot. it also varies w time as i drive the car. into work is typically 20 minutes w a cold engine. but i also drive 3+ hours to work and that covers a huge environmental change.

    auto climate control does not work for me. when i borrow my wifes car i always find myself turning it off to get the cabin comfortable for me.

  • avatar
    rdclark

    For me it’s all about blowing cool air in my face, at a constant, even rate. I may want hot air at my feet, I may want conditioned warm air on the windshield, but I want cool air on my face. Haven’t found an automated system that can give me that.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I pretty much loathe the ACC in my ’08 Lincoln MKZ. I get how it works, and I get what it’s trying to do, but I will never, ever want any climate control on any vehicle I drive to run at full blast, and that’s what it does every time I hit “auto.” OK, maybe if it’s 110 degrees and I have passengers in the back I would want it full blast, but how often does that happen? I mostly drive it by myself and punch buttons until I get what I want.

    The only good thing about it is the dual zone, for those rare instances when my wife is with me and I’m in the sun and she’s not. That’s a good thing. Otherwise, just give me three simple knobs that I fully control – best climate control design EVER!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      BMW gets this right too – when in AUTO, the fan speed control alters the relative speed of the fan. If you like a lot of fan, you can turn it up, and it will use relatively more fan for the conditions. Turn it down, and it will use relatively less fan. The only way it ever blasts the fan is if you have the temp all the way to HI or LO. And even then the relative fan speed control does its thing. There is no such thing as “one size fits all”, so a well implemented degree of customization is a great thing. I’m surprised Doug doesn’t whine about this feature too.

  • avatar
    meefer

    Auto, love. Dual zone, fine if there’s a thermal sensor to adjust for sun, only really useful if there’s a separate compressor for the other zone like high end luxury marques. Quad zone, never had it.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Surface temperature versus ambient temperature.

    Measuring ambient temperature can work quite well when you’re heating. When you need to cool a vehicle, it’s pretty hit and miss.

    The cooling effect of air moving helps to deal with hot spots from direct sun through glass. Whatever the actual temperature, the speed and direction of moving air is of equal importance to the actual temperature inside the car.

    If you live on the surface of the sun like me, there’s only one sensible temperature setting for 8 months of the year. Fan speed and vents are the variables you want to control.

  • avatar
    Louis XVI

    My main problem with ACC is that dual zones are such a fraud. You should be able to use the system to create weather. When I set the driver side to 90, and the passenger side to 60, I was really hoping for a little thunderstorm in the middle. Instead, I just got the lukewarm blah that Doug described.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’ve seemed to have had luck with the gf when she wants ‘balmy’ and I want to not die of heat stroke. I get the AC, she gets less cool air *plus heated seats.*

      Either it works, or her internal rage against me keeps her warm. I really don’t bother asking.

  • avatar
    Hank

    Of the three most recent vehicles I’ve had with ACC, I cant’ think of a thing not to like. Our current vehicles, a three-zone Odyssey and a dual-zoned Silverado function perfectly well.

    Seems most of the complaints are more rooted in user errors than system errors. I’m constantly amazed how many people don’t understand how thermostats work…it’s even worse in homes and offices than cars.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I didn’t see that the majority of people agreed with you that automatic locking was bad. Those that have thoughtfully designed systems liked it. Those that have experienced systems that were designed by idiots, or who are to big of an idiot to change the settings so it meets their desires don’t like it.

    It is much the same for automatic climate control. Well designed systems work well and need almost no intervention from the driver. Poorly designed systems work poorly and annoy the driver.

    The only time I have to intervene is when it is usually humid inside the car and I’ll switch it to straight defrost for a while before letting the car take back over. Otherwise I just don’t touch the system.

    As far as dual zone goes it works just fine if you keep within the design parameters. No it can’t keep a 30 degree difference in temp, most will state that they can do up to 15 or 20 degree difference. In the real world though most people keep that difference even lower. In the cars we have that dual rather than single the difference is usually 2 or 3 degrees and we are both happy.

  • avatar
    albert

    What is the point of having acc?
    Right, to let your car do not only the work, but also the thinking!
    But that only works well if the manufacturer you chose to produce your car did everything right.
    1. the right capacity of heating.
    2. the right capacity of cooling.
    3. the correct dimensioning of the ventilation and positioning of the vents.
    4. take enough time (and thus put money into that) to develop the correct algorithms to get it all right.

    What you see is that if you pay enough for a car it usually works. e.g. in my SAAB 9-3 I can step in the car in the Netherlands where it is 19 degrees Celsius and raining, drive straight through Belgium and France to the Riviera coast where it is 38 degrees celsius and very sunny, without fiddling with the acc controls.
    I cannot do that in my daily driver, a Renault Captur (look it up, you americans). Also with ACC. But both heating and cooling capacity are just enough for the region were I live (we seldom see snow and in summer we are happy when we have temperatures higher than 22ºC (72ºF). Anything beyond that envelope will start you fiddle with the controls. You get what you pay for.

    • 0 avatar
      revjasper

      I’m always pleased when a car has not just the right capacity for heating and cooling, but an overabundance of capacity. My very inexpensive hyper-American car has air conditioning capable of freezing exposed skin and heat reminiscent of a Saab. And when taking a long drive last summer, I didn’t even notice that the temperature rose from 73F (23C) to 105F (41C) until I looked at the outside temperature display.

      Yes, this is another example of Panther love.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    I like the Automatic Climate Control in my Accord Hybrid, but there are times I’ll turn it off because I don’t want it running the engine when I’m stopped. If it’s trying to heat up the cabin on my short trip home, it’ll run the engine the whole time, rather than turn it off when it’s not needed, and I’ll get (relatively)terrible fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Until they start using heat pumps that is the problem with automatic climate control and hybrids. You can suck the heat out of the engine pretty quickly if it is not running. When my wife is going to work on mild mornings she will often turn the system off to keep the engine off much more of the time. It is a net large drop in elevation so she can go a fair amount of the way coasting/EV mode or using not enough fuel to produce enough heat for the heater core.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    All 3 of my cars have auto climate control as well as many before that except for my ’07 Cayman S but I didn’t care. I agree that all this multi-zone stuff is BS, but I love having it. I set it once and forget it, 70-72° and that’s it. For the life of me, I never understood why some car pundits or the likes of CR would complain about the size of or placement of climate control knobs, dials, etc. If it’s not a manual system, just set it and forget it. The only exceptions are the need to speed up defrost in the winters and that’s alway just one button… push it and let it work, then push it off and it returns to auto.
    And, for the record since I missed the discussion about auto door locks, it is usually defeat-able… my ’07 Mini Cooper has a defeat setting hidden in the menus as does my Audi Q5 and my wife’s 10 year MB. On the other hand, I like it. It’s one less thing to worry about while yelling at folks to buckle up their seatbelt.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    Depends on the system being used. The one in my 2005 Outback was schizophrenic. Set it to one temp, wait for blast of air to cease, fan drops to normal speed and temp. Wait 2 minutes and start over again. It drove me nuts!
    However my 2001 Volvo V70 worked great. It worked so well I often forgot it was even there. Kept the whole car comfy no matter the outside temp.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    “And, for the record since I missed the discussion about auto door locks, it is usually defeat-able… my ’07 Mini Cooper has a defeat setting hidden in the menus as does my Audi Q5 and my wife’s 10 year MB. On the other hand, I like it. It’s one less thing to worry about while yelling at folks to buckle up their seatbelt.”

    Likewise. My Acuras have a configurable system, I have it set to lock when I go over 5MPH, and unlock when I shift into park. I’m not sure why that is supposed to bother me. I can’t imagine wanting to open my door between those two events. And on the rare case I do (drop someone off without shifting to park) there’s a little switch on my door to unlock, no big deal.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    The automatic climate control in my 04 Deville works perfectly. The temp is set to 73 and I never have to touch it or adjust fan speed. From -30 to +90 it keeps me comfortable. In winter the fan doesn’t start until the coolant temp increases and in summer the AC blows instant cold. Once the temperature inside the car gets to the preset level (wich is pretty quickly) the fan speed goes down to a quiet level. I have tri zone controls but no passenger has ever felt any need to change there side. The other thing I love about it is having 2 separate visors that also slide out on their posts. It’s surprising how many cars including high-end ones have shitty visors.

  • avatar

    I prefer automatic climate control, and not having to alternately fiddle with the temp setting, fan speed, and outlet controls while driving. Set to a desired temp, and drive, letting the system do what’s best.

    That said, each of the vehicles I’ve owned with this feature have had better/worse moments in operation.

    Our Mazda5 was programmed to basically do nothing if the interior temp was roughly equal to ambient. So on 65’sh days, you’d start the vehicle and no air is moving at all, when you’d like some to take the edge off the sun on your face.

    My ’12 MINI seizes control of the recirc setting, and opts to recycle the interior air a large part of the time. That may be fine, but I enjoy pipe and cigar smoking sometimes, and recycling cigar smoke is NOT what I want of what doesn’t escape through the window I’ve opened an inch or so. I’d rather it allowed me to choose recirc or not even in auto mode.

    Our ’14 Encore has dual zone, however as mentioned it’s pretty compact for this to work well, so both front passengers have a similar experience regardless of how the independent controls are set.

    Our ’07 Corvette actually seems to deliver the best experience…though the cabin is very small, it’s divided enough, I suppose, that it works ok.

    All of our vehicles use knobs / rocker switches for the controls, versus touchscreen, so that’s a plus in making them easy to use or understand.

    Still a fan of these systems, would just love to help the engineers with some suggestions on tailoring the “features”.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I hate when they cycle the AC compressor off when it gets cool enough. I want it to stay cool and dry, not cool and humid.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I don’t have a use in the world for ACC. My desired fan and temp settings are a function of what I’m wearing and how active I was before getting into the car so I invariably end up fooling with it anyway and ACC just gets in the way.

    Give me three knobs or give me a different car.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I love my ACC. Love it. Will not buy a new car without it, period. Will try my best not to buy even a crappy used beater without it. It takes me from making an adjustment every minute or two throughout the time I’m driving to making an adjustment every few trips. It takes me from thinking about the [email protected] temperature all the time to thinking about more useful things like my driving.

  • avatar
    Fred

    On my Audi and Acura the ACC works fine. One thing I don’t like is that they won’t blow warm air out the center vents. Which means I can’t easily warm up my right hand while driving. Of course it’s not difficult to push the button to blow heat out the vents when needed. Either that or get a car with heated steering wheel or wear gloves.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    Problem is, most idiots do not know how it works. On a hot day acc goes to max cool even when it is set on 75. So there is no need to crank the fan to high and the temp to 65 or max cool. I love the way the acc ramps fan speed and temp to close in on, then maintain the desired temp. So tired of my friends freezing the bejeebus out of me because it is 100 outside. leave the damn thing at a comfortable setting already. SET IT AND FORGET IT!

  • avatar
    t0ast

    I currently have an ’05 Outback XT with auto climate and it’s probably the thing I dislike the most about it.

    The interface of mode-cycling buttons and free-spinning knobs coupled with a low-mounted digital display often requires eyes off the road to adjust precisely.

    Even with Auto mode off, it will still try to do most everything automatically. Turn the temperature knob below 72? The A/C might just decide to turn on part-way through your drive (even if the weather doesn’t warrant it). Want the defroster on? You apparently also wanted the fans on full blast. I’ve also caught it switching to recirculate unexpectedly, though I’m still trying to pin down the exact cause on that one.

    It’s also just not very good at maintaining a temperature. It’ll work really hard to reach what you set it to and then get confused about what it actually needs to do to stay there. Random periods of hot/cold fast/slow spikes abound.

    I’m sure newer model year vehicles and other brands handle things a bit better, but a lot of it for me simply boils down to three things:
    1 – I want to be able to adjust my climate controls without having to look at them as much as possible.
    2 – I want to be in control of when the A/C is or isn’t on.
    3 – I like my vents to spit out air at a steady temperature and speed of my choosing and don’t mind 2-3 small adjustments over the course of a drive to maintain that (provided also #1).

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Yup, one of these years I must buy something other than a Subaru just to see what this “auto climate control” actually is. My Legacy GT nominally has it, dual zone at that.

      In its second winter, when there was a thick frost on the car, I put it in auto at 22C after starting it, then retreated to the house. 45 minutes later, the ice melted on the moonroof, but the windshield wasn’t fully clear yet. Completely useless.

      Don’t even think about driving it in cold weather on Auto. Slush freezes on the windshield because not enough heat gets there. The only hope is full heat in manual defrost mode. All the time.

      Now in summer, Auto seems only mildly awful, with high temps at head level and frozen knees, along with schizoid fan speeds. But I get a headache after a while, and sure enough when I look it’s still on recirc and trying to gas me.

      I can quite believe that Subaru has the worst CC. All three I’ve owned don’t have actual foot vents. They just blow out of a vague hole below the steering wheel boss on the dash. Aye-trocious.

      The only way to proceed is to manually control the thing. A triumphant entry on the spec sheet, ACC, that is a feature in name only.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Another vote for Subaru worst climate control. My favorite is the dual zone in the outback where you can’t link the zones you have to twist both knobs. At least the wrx had a simple 3 knob single zone.

      • 0 avatar
        t0ast

        Oh man I forgot about the winter, yeah. Full manual defrost is an absolute requirement if it’s icy/slushy. Agreed also on the lackluster foot venting.

  • avatar
    kscott

    I dislike auto climate control. The typical situation for me is that it’s the heating season, and having somewhat low blood pressure, my fingers get cold easily. I want the system to blow warm (not hot) air onto my fingers until they warm up, which will take a while. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t have temperature sensors for body parts of the passenger(s), such as the driver’s finger temperature; it only has a cabin air sensor. Since my fingers have more thermal mass than the air in the cabin, the cabin air temp will gradually rise while the fingers stay cold. I don’t care about the cabin temp; I want the system to ignore it, since the most important task is to just get my fingers to the proper temp. The cabin-temp changes unfortunately cause the system to adjust, and because of that I need to continually change the thermostat setting to keep the output air at a constant temperature. This results in much more fiddling with the controls on an auto-climate-control system than it’d be with a manual system.

    Auto climate control starts being of benefit once the car has been operating more than 45 minutes. But those first 45 minutes are annoying, and most trips are shorter than that. A dual-zone manual-control system would be the ideal.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    All three of my cars have auto climate. I love it and will continue to seek out cars that have it. Easy, efficent, and effective. I’ve never had any issues with how well it works. I especially like that it takes very little adjustment on my part to operate it.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    The ACC in my 4Runner is far smarter than the one in my 911 but I very rarely use them. I hate it when the AC compressor engages when ACC is selected. Just give me the knobs and I’m happy.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    Dueling ATC’s, as you noted, is one reason. Another is that it is a hassle, if I am hot, and just want a lot of cold air to blow on me, instead of waiting for it to intermittently blow a bit of cold air.

    And a very good third reason, valid at the least for Panther platform owners, such as myself, is that their EATC continuously opens and closes ducts inside the dash, and eventually the hinges start to bind, leaving the owner with either continuous cold or continuous heat. And the remedy is a relatively inexpensive part, in terms of dollars, but which takes a LOT of time to remove the dash, remove the offending blend gate mechanism, and then install the new one.

    Those of us Panther owners who “unfortunately” did not buy the upsell option to receive the EATC option, do not encounter this problem. Those who got EATC almost always meet this problem sooner or later.

    Thank you very much, I will get heat or cold when I want, and as much or little as I want, without once worrying about having the heat stick open in the summer, or the A/C stick open in the coldest part of winter.

    While I am only familiar with this problem on the Panthers, I did also have it happen on a VW diesel Rabbit one time, and at that time as I recall, I paid the dealer to drop the dash and replace it. A nasty little repair bill of well ever two hundred dollars, thirty years ago, more or less, as I recall. Don’t know if it was a common point of failure in that vehicle, but again, ATC cost a lot, just because it was automatic, and constantly cycling.

    I like a few of the slick features on my Grand Marquis, but for the most part, the KISS motto is the best policy, and ATC is one of the best illustrations of why it is the best policy.

    Its value is limited and its downside is significant. I would never consider it a plus, and in fact, would consider it a probable minus.

    The two things I was most concerned about when I recently acquired my 97 Grand Marquis were had the plastic intake manifold been replace (it had) and did the car have EATC (it didn’t). Both of these things made me glad, and made it possble to sleep better at night, as they were two of the potentially most costly repairs that could occur, other than normal wear and tear, which as any Panther owner can tell you, is not something to lose a lot of sleep over.

    Automatic temperature control: phooey!

  • avatar
    la3541

    On my dual climate control, I sometimes set the left side to warm my feet and the right to cool my top half. I point the right vents my way.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    Two reasons: zone wars, and the need to remove the dash to repair automatic temp control blend gates when the break after continuous cycling without operator input.

    I’d rather set the control by hand every time I get into my car, than to have to spend a weekend pulling and replacing my dash and blend gate.

    It is TOO MUCH AUTOMATION. The point of already diminished returns.

  • avatar
    ingram1225

    I have a tri zone on my Mazda3… a TRUE tri zone (fans speed up or speed down along with hot or cold air blowing) and it works JUST FINE. You forget one thing… thermal air barrier effect. Basically, as I understand it, cold air will but up against hot air and form a barrier thanks to molecules bouncing around at different speeds. If left alone, YES they would mingle, shake hands and sing kumbaya. Fortunately for us, we have AUTO which, as you smartly put it, controls the temps for each zone. Therefore, these little fast and slow bouncing molecules never have time to meet up.

    My wife is a very cold person by nature and needs the heat up as high as it goes. I counter that with a bit of a cold spell cooling me off. It WORKS just fine!

  • avatar
    Directorjustin

    I agree with you. I love automatic climate control, and I love watching your videos, Doug!

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