Could Roxanne's air conditioner be making her ill?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

This is a crazy question, but you're used to it, so here goes. I drive an '89 Mercury Sable, which both my husband and I are very pleased with. Of all the cars I've ever had, it's my favorite. However, since we've had it, we've taken two driving vacations. Both times, the first day out, I caught a horrible cold. This hasn't happened on other car trips. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but I wonder if the car's air conditioning gets bacteria in it which makes me sick after riding in it for the whole day. My husband always drives on our trips. What do you think?

RAY: Well, we've gotten plenty of letters about husbands whose driving makes their wives sick, but this one's a little different, Rox.

TOM: It certainly is possible for bacteria and mold to grow in an air conditioning system, and you might have some sort of mold allergy. Moisture inside the system is supposed to drain out, but if it doesn't drain completely, it provides a perfect breeding ground for those cute little mold spores.

RAY: You can have the system taken apart and cleaned, although that's quite an expensive and labor intensive project. Before resorting to that, you may want to try one of the commercially available mold killing sprays, like "Fridgie-fresh" from BG Industries of Wichita, Kansas, for example.

TOM: The other thing to be aware of is that in a closed system like a car, the same air is going around and around continuously, with only a small amount of fresh air being added. So if someone else in the car has a cold, you're very likely to catch it. So if the spray doesn't work, leave your husband home next time.

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