How Much Gas Does AC Use In A Car?

Most drivers know, turning on the air conditioner will make the car use more fuel. But how much it costs, and how specific the number is, not everyone knows. To answer the question “How much gas does AC use in a car?” follow this article!

In modern technology life, air conditioning has become one of the indispensable pieces of equipment in every vehicle. And a problem that is always questioned and a concern by drivers is whether turning on the car air conditioner will cause too much fuel consumption, how to minimize fuel consumption when turning on the air conditioner on the car? Every issue will be broken down below: 

Does Running The AC Use More Gas?

In order for the air conditioner to work, it needs the operation of other components. And these parts usually get power from the engine and put an extra load on your car engine. Therefore, using this device directly affects the fuel consumption of the whole vehicle. You can easily see how the RPM of a car engine increases when the air conditioner is turned on with high power. So to the question “Does AC use gas?”, the answer is “Yes”, your car when the air conditioner is turned on will definitely consume more fuel than the car without it.

Some drivers don’t care too much about how much gas the air conditioner use while driving because they think it’s just a small expense. But it’s very necessary to keep track and help you to save a significant gallon of gasoline each year. How much gas does air conditioning use in a car?

how much gas does air conditioning use in a car
How much gas does air conditioning use in a car? (Photo:

How Much Gas Does AC Use In A Car?

According to the data we got from the Energy Star website when turning on the AC in your car, it will consume from 0,5 to 1 gallon of gas per hour. And of course, this number will increase when driving during the peak hour. To reply and explain in more detail this question: How much gas does AC use in a car? Emissions Analytic – a research organization specializing in fuel consumption in the US, conducted a test with more than 100 cars in Los Angeles to determine the effect of turning on the air conditioner on fuel consumption. The test was conducted with 3 types of vehicles using gasoline, diesel, and hybrid fuels (gasoline-electric), with the same way of running twice, once with the air conditioning on and once without. 

The results show that turning on the air conditioner will have the strongest effect on hybrid cars, the distance running in the city will decrease by up to 9.3% and down 2.8% when running on the highway, and the average rate is up to 6.1%. For example, a 2015 Chevy Volt with a full tank can run for more than 600 miles, when the air conditioner is turned on and the car drives in the city area, the running distance is reduced by 56 miles, equivalent to a decrease of 9.3%.

Diesel vehicles are the second most affected vehicle by air conditioning, with a drop of about 6.3% in the city and 3.3% on the highway, an average of 4.6%. Particularly, gasoline engines had the lowest impact, only decreasing by 5.1% in the city and 2.7% when running on the highway, respectively, 3.8%.

However, these results are for reference only because the actual consumption level depends on many other factors.

Factors Affecting Fuel Consumption Of Car Air Conditioners

Many experts believe that there is no exact figure on the amount of fuel that the car air conditioning system consumes. It depends on a lot of different factors: driving conditions (city, highway), driving speed, temperature, and the specific temperature setting inside the vehicle. The most obvious is the capacity that the air conditioning system used will depend on the vehicle design, car manufacturer, and specific vehicle type. The average car’s air conditioner consumes 1/4 horsepower if you turn it on low on a normal day. If the days are wet or hot, the car’s power loses about 10 horsepower when the air conditioner is running at full capacity. Besides, the speed of the vehicle also affects this consumption.

Previously, when accelerating while keeping the air conditioner on, it would consume twice as much fuel. To overcome this drawback, manufacturers after 2000 have designed more relays that have the role of disconnecting the air conditioning source when the vehicle accelerates to ensure engine power.

In addition, the fuel consumption of air conditioning also depends on the vehicle, such as whether it is a luxury car or a truck. A class A car usually has a low displacement engine and will be affected more during air conditioning operation than a V8 engine. This is true even in cases where the air conditioners on both vehicles use a certain amount of power.

>> Read more: Car AC Blowing Hot Air: Troubleshooting the Dilemma

How To Use A Car Air Conditioner To Save Fuel?

The car air conditioner helps drivers to adjust the temperature accordingly compared to the outside temperature. However, if you use the air conditioner improperly, it will consume more fuel and may affect your health. These are some useful tips you can apply when using the AC effectively in your car:

Do not turn off the air conditioner to open the windows when the car is driving

Many drivers believe that when driving at high speed, especially on the highway, turning off the air conditioner and opening the car door will save fuel. However, the truth can be quite the opposite. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) conducted the test. They used 2 different cars, an SUV and a sedan with the same 4.6 L V8 engine, traveling in hot weather at General Motors’ test track and in the desert.

The results of the experiment surprised many people, SAE concluded that cars will consume less fuel when the air conditioning is on and the doors are closed. It can be seen that turning on the air conditioner in your car will of course consume a certain amount of fuel. However, the fuel consumption is still less when you open the windows and drive, especially on the highway. The reason is that when the car drives at high speed, the wind resistance is quite large, lowering the window glass will increase the wind resistance. So the car engine has to take more power to overcome that wind resistance and of course, the car consumes more gas.

Use of modes in air conditioning flexibly

does ac use more gas than windows down
Car air conditioners have many different modes, so drivers should learn to know how to use them. (Photo:

Usually, a car air conditioner has 2 modes to get the inside air and get the outside air. According to experts, you should choose the mode to get the outside air when you just get into the car, move the car to the fresh air area, and the long journeys to ensure the amount of oxygen… Should choose the mode to get the wind while moving the areas with lots of dust, driving in the rain or wet weather…

Car air conditioners have many different modes, so drivers should learn and consult more advice from technical staff to make a reasonable tune-up, using each mode in specific circumstances. It will help to save fuel even though the car’s air conditioner is still on.

Turn on and off the air conditioner properly

A lot of controversies revolve around this issue. According to experts, car owners should keep the habit of turning off the air conditioner. And turning on the car’s fan about 5 minutes before turning off the engine limits the use of too much power from the battery. Which helps save fuel and avoids a musty smell. 

Besides, some drivers think that if you turn on the air conditioner before starting the car, it will affect the car engine. But according to some studies in the US, turning on the air conditioner before starting the engine does not affect the car engine. Currently, all vehicles are equipped with an ECU capable of automatically adjusting the system in the most optimal way. When starting the car, other systems will automatically disconnect to focus on the engine.

However, turning on the air conditioner before starting the engine will put pressure on the battery, affecting the life of the car battery. On the other hand, when you get into the car, turn on the air conditioner immediately. It will consume more battery power. When the car’s doors are closed, the temperature inside the car is higher than the temperature outside.

This makes the cooling process slower, and the cooling process more difficult, affecting the life of the air conditioning system. So when you get into the car, if the car is really too hot, you should turn on the blower (don’t turn on the air conditioner). Then lower all the windows for 2-3 minutes to create air circulation inside the car.

>> Related post: 8 Mind-Blowing Tips to Save Fuel for Your Car

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, after reading the article, you have given yourself the answer to the question of whether turning on the car air conditioner consumes gas and how much gas does AC use in a car. To save fuel and ensure the car’s air conditioning system is used for a long time. Be equipped with the knowledge and how to use and operate the car as well as the car’s air conditioner smartly and effectively!