Cars Air Conditioner. When it gets warm outside, your air conditioner becomes your best friend. This is most definitely true in your car, where temperatures can sky rocket to 170 degrees under direct sunlight. But most people these days are under the impression that the more you run your air conditioner the more gas your car will guzzle. Now that gas prices are higher than the cost to eat at McDonald’s, people are starting to take precautions and do what they can to help with their cars fuel economy. The assumption that running your air conditioner burns way more gas is somewhat untrue. Leaving your air conditioner off makes barely any difference in the amount of gas you burn. With the advent of modern, more fuel efficient cars, this myth is busted!
The air conditioner draws its power from the engine which uses some gas, but with today’s cars, this use of gas is minute. The air conditioner can decrease the fuel economy of your car up to 20% in some vehicles, but it depends on the type. Driving with the air conditioner is more fuel efficient than driving with the windows down. Driving with the windows down creates drag which means that your engine has to work harder to keep your car at the current speed; this burns more gas than if you just ran your air conditioner.
In the long run, using your air conditioner is far better than any other means of cooling yourself off in the car, unless you’re driving in traffic. When you drive in traffic you aren’t going very fast so the drag on the car is minimal. In these cases, you burn more fuel running the air conditioner than having the windows down. That makes sense. When you drive on the highway you can use either the air conditioner or the “window down” method to cool yourself, because, honestly, there is no noticeable difference in gas usage at those speeds.