Does Running your Car A/C Lower Gas Mileage?

Gas is expensive right now. In June 2022, the national price for regular gas reached over $5 per gallon. It’s also really hot, which means most drivers are turning the A/C on high on their commute to work or road trips. With so many feeling the pinch of high gas prices, drivers are looking for any way to get a few extra MPG out of their cars. Will turning off the A/C help? In this article, we are going to answer this age-old question once and for all!

Running the A/C Lowers Fuel Economy

Looking at this issue purely based on whether the air conditioning system uses more fuel, it would appear that going with the windows down and the A/C off is the way to go. A/C systems work by cycling refrigerant through a series of components, transitioning from a liquid to a gas and back again. This system runs on power from the engine. Any extra load on the motor will reduce fuel economy.

If you left the system off and just drove with the windows down, you would always get better MPG, right? Not quite.

Having the Windows Down Will Also Decrease Fuel Economy

Driving with the windows down creates a significant amount of drag. If you are driving over 40 MPH, having the windows down can have an even greater impact than running the air conditioning.

A/C On the Highway, Windows Down in Town

To achieve the best fuel economy while trying to stay cool, you need to be strategic with your usage of the air conditioning. If you are driving at slower speeds, you will save gas by forgoing the air conditioning and letting fresh air in the car through the windows. Like we said before, at high speeds it’s more efficient to keep the A/C on low with the windows up.

Other Factors

Newer A/C systems are going to be more efficient, and vehicles with larger engines will be able to run the system with less of a load impact. On the flip side, large vehicles will normally have more space that needs to be cooled, which causes the A/C to work harder for longer.

Park In the Shade

When you get in your car in the afternoon after it’s been baking in the sun, the first thing you usually do is turn on the A/C at full blast. With the inside of the car being so hot, the air conditioning is working extremely hard to cool it down. If you can keep your interior temperature down by parking in the shade or the garage, you won’t need to crank the air conditioning as soon as you start your car.

A/C Service at Scott’s U-Save

The debate between windows down and air conditioning doesn’t mean anything if you’re A/C doesn’t work. If the air coming through your vents is not as cold as it once was, it’s probably time to get it serviced. The experienced technicians at Scott’s U-Save can quickly diagnose and repair your air conditioning system, regardless of what’s wrong. With three locations in Steger IL, New Lenox, IL, and Schererville, IN, we are conveniently located to best serve you. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

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