Rock Talk

Does My AC Really Affect My Gas Mileage?

Last updated on June 13th, 2017 at 09:40 am

East coast residents from Boston to New Jersey have famously bad commutes and spend a lot of time in their cars (or Crashbusters® vans in the case of our Claim team). During the summer months, this means cranking up your car’s air conditioner to beat the heat.

You’ve probably heard that blasting your AC negatively affects your gas mileage. On those really hot and sticky days, using your air conditioning is a no-brainer. You may have asked yourself: “Does my AC really affect my gas mileage?” Is it worth avoiding the AC to save some money on gas?

Drivers have been arguing about windows down vs. air conditioning for years, but the honest answer is that there is no single solution. Instead, we have gathered some guidelines to help you manage your fuel consumption and your comfort.

  • Using the air conditioner does burn up your gas at an increased rate, so use it wisely. If temperatures outside the car are pleasant, open the windows and let your car cool down for a few minutes before using the vent or AC on low to keep a comfortable air flow in the car.
  • Your air conditioner works the hardest when your car is the hottest. Take steps to reduce your need to run the AC on full blast for long periods by parking in the shade or using a sun visor. This will give you a head start on keeping your car cool and will reduce the time you have to run the AC on its max settings.
  • Monitor and moderate your AC usage. Turn the AC down once the car has reached a comfortable temperature. Keeping the AC on a lower cool and fan setting can greatly reduce the amount of fuel needed to run the system.
  • When travelling at speeds above 40 mph, keep your windows up and the AC on a moderate setting. When cruising at speeds below 40 mph, go with windows down to keep cool. Remember, running the vent does not burn extra fuel.
  • One other thing to keep in mind is the size of your car. Body and engine size weigh heavily on your AC. Although new air conditioners are very efficient, they still run directly from a belt attached to the motor. Large vans and SUVs have bigger engines, but more space to cool. A smaller automobile with an average four-cylinder engine can be cooled more efficiently. That is something to consider when purchasing your next vehicle, especially if you have a long commute

These are just a few ways to help keep your fuel consumption down during the hottest part of the summer. We would love to hear your tips, tricks, and thoughts, so leave a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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4 thoughts on “Does My AC Really Affect My Gas Mileage?

  1. I drive a 2009 Honda Fit with an mpg indicator and I always get better mpg with AC off. With a tailwind and windows cranked down 25-50% I get the best mpg of all.

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