This is an age old question. Ever since air conditioning systems were added to cars, people started to say that when the AC works, gas mileage goes up. It is hard to blame someone for turning on the AC. As it gets warm outside, the AC truly becomes the very best friend you have.
Temperatures can easily reach 170 degrees or more inside a car right under sunlight. Even if this happens, people think twice about using the AC since they want to save gas. Unfortunately, this can be problematic so you do want to think twice. According to auto accident attorney Sarah Noll, if temperature is really high inside the vehicle it can even cause you to lose attention and cause a collision. This is not something that you want to happen.
Leaving the possible accident aside, we are faced with gas prices that are higher than ever. Since most people believe that more gas is burned when the AC is on, it is just not turned on. In reality, you should know that if you leave the air conditioner off, there won’t be a huge difference in how much gas is burned when compared with the opposite. This might have been true many years ago but we now have modern cars that are much more fuel efficient.
The AC system will draw power from the car’s engine, which does use gas. However, with modern cars, this usage is minuscule. However, in some older vehicles when you turn off the AC you can increase fuel economy even by up to 20 percent. All depends on vehicle.
One thing that should be mentioned is that the common approach is to have your windows down and the AC off in order to save gas. This is even worse. In fact, driving with your AC on is much more fuel efficient than when you turn windows down. As the windows are down, drag is created. The engine needs to work much harder to stay at its current speed. That is why, if you have an AC system in your home and you are hot, it is better to just turn it on than to turn down your windows.
No matter how we look at things, in the long run it is much better to use the AC as opposed to any other method you might use to cool off. The only situation when this is not the case is when faced with heavy traffic. If this is the scenario, speed is low so drag is minimal. This is when you are burning more fuel if you run the AC system than when the windows are down. If you find yourself driving on the highway, the AC can be turned on without any problems as you will not notice much gas mileage shifts due to the higher speed.
As an extra useful tip, before you go into a car that stood under the sun for a long time, you should roll down your windows and just let the hot air out. The car does need some time to cool down. After it is cool enough, you can get in and be on your way.