MUNDANE MYSTERIES: What Does The Air Recirculate Button In Your Car Actually Do?

Your car or truck probably has a lot of symbols across the dashboard. And not all of their functions were perfectly clear at first blush. Thankfully, the air conditioning button (labeled “A/C”) should’ve been easy enough to figure out. But the same can’t be said for the air recirculation button. You know, the one with a picture of a tiny car with a curved arrow inside of it. But when you really need your A/C to kick into gear on a hot day, you need that button. But what does your car’s air recirculation button actually do?

The air recirculation button, as the name would imply, functions to recirculate the air already inside your car instead of pulling air in from outside. It’s most useful when your AC is turned on, because it’s a whole lot easier for the system to recirculate air that’s already been cooled inside the car than to try & continually cool down new streams of hot air from outside your ride. Not only does it help your vehicle get as cool as possible as quickly as possible, but it also means your A/C ultimately uses less energy to do its thing (which means you end up using gas at a slower rate).

Plus, depending on where you are, the air outside your vehicle might have other things going on beyond just a high temperature: it could be full of pollution, exhaust fumes, or pollen & other allergens. Or maybe you end up driving past a chicken farm or a sewage treatment facility & the outdoor air just really smells horrible. The air recirculation button will help keep your car as chilled, clean, and fuel-efficient as possible. And your car’s air filter shouldn’t wear out as quickly.

But there is a time when you shouldn’t use the air recirculation button. In the wintertime, when you’re jacking up the heat because it’s cold outside, you should skip the air recirculation button since running the same moist air repeatedly through your vehicle is a prescription for foggy windows. Plus, your car’s heating system warms up the air mostly using heat that’s already been generated by the engine, which means it’s not burning through gas in the same way the A/C does.

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BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Berryville Graphics