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The latest scientific research shows that bacteria and germs breeding in your car could be undermining your health.

The nose often picks up what the eye doesn’t see. Ask any motorist who has chugged through the low-lying ozone that gift-wraps urban jams, often given extra intensity by a stiflingly strong sun.

Traffic pollution is a mostly invisible enemy to which your nose, throat and lungs are most sensitive. Little wonder, then, that most cars come with air conditioning, either as a standard feature or a good value option to counteract the effects of this invisible assault on your senses.

Yet recent scientific studies carried out in America reveal a more worrying hazard.

Those very air conditioning systems, designed to keep the driving environment cool and clear, act like a Trojan horse.

For the alarming truth is that, among your car’s insulation material and within the deep recesses of its air conditioning system, lies a hidden enemy: a colony of microscopic bacteria breeding and assaulting your senses with airborne particles.

Thousands of motorists suffer the symptoms each day. In worst cases, the effects of the bacteria aggravate allergic reactions, causing runny noses, sore throats and asthma-like symptoms.

Effectively, it is the automotive equivalent of sick building syndrome.

The bacteria, along with mould and fungi, flourish in the build-up of condensation produced by a car’s air conditioning system.

That means more motorists than ever are at risk, as the number of new cars in the UK fitted with air conditioning reaches record levels of almost 750 000 per year.

Air conditioning can counteract urban pollution seeping into a car’s interior, but that could make matters worse.

The findings arose from research into unexplained odours in vehicles, which are often put down to something in the carpet and upholstery or perhaps the family dog.

The AA has been conducting its own investigation and their Head of Technical Policy John Stubbs, has said that:

“Air conditioning needs regular servicing by technicians who know what they are doing and who use manufacturer recommended biocides to clean out the system properly.

When a bad smell occurs, the car’s owner needs to be certain that the air conditioning system is purged properly, or the problem can return.”

The majority of car manufacturers recommend that air conditioning units should be cleaned professionally at least once a year with a special disinfectant treatment.

This should be applied to the heater matrix and ventilation ducting to penetrate the build-up of dirt inside and to remove any germs, mildew or or unpleasant smells. Treatment usually takes no longer than 30 minutes.

Have you noticed musty or foul odours upon entering your car or switching on the heating or air-conditioning? Or, have you suffered from sore throats, flu-like symptoms or allergic reactions?

If so, this could be caused by the year round build up of germs, bacteria, mould, spores and fungi within your air-conditioning/ventilation system.

During summer or winter your vehicle’s air-conditioning and heating system will generate condensation. This environment provides an ideal breeding ground for germs, bacteria, spores, mould and fungi.

So whether you’re cooling in summer or heating in winter, contaminated particles will be blown into the vehicle passenger compartment.