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Does Driving Without AC Save Gas?


Air conditioning (AC) is not just a luxury but an essential part of every car. Most drivers find it soothing to leave their car AC on when driving. But then, what do you know about car AC and gas consumption? Does driving without AC save gas?

Well, let’s find out.

Driving with your car AC switched on draws energy from your car alternator, powered by the car engine, thus adding to your gas consumption. Therefore, driving without a car AC saves gas. But your car’s AC will not work if the engine is off.

What is a Car AC?

Air conditioning (AC) is an additional car feature that cools the air within the vehicle, especially in hot weather. You can see AC in almost all the cars.


How Does a Car AC Work?

All car ACs work in the same way, irrespective of the vehicle’s make and model. However, there are standard components that every car AC must have. We will discuss those components in this section, so read on.

Essential Components of a Car AC

There are five crucial components in an auto air conditioning system. First, we will look out for the 5 essential parts that all car ACs have regardless of the make and model of your car.

  • Compressor
  • Evaporator
  • Condenser fan
  • Thermal expansion valve
  • Receiver- drier or accumulator

1. Compressor

The AC compressor helps to apply pressure to the refrigerant. It compresses the gas into fluid while simultaneously raising the air conditioner’s temperature. You can see the compressor in the front of the vehicle.

2. Condenser

The work is to take the heat from the refrigerant and then transport it to the expansion valve or orifice tube.

3. Evaporator

The evaporator is responsible for extracting heat from the air that passes through its core and transmits it to the refrigerant, resulting in the free flow of air extending beyond the evaporator.

4. Thermal expansion valve

The responsibility of the thermal expansion valve is to change the car AC system from high pressure to low pressure. It is at this point that AC changes from hot to cold.

It helps to take the refrigerant back to its standard gaseous form and moves it to the accumulator.

5. Receiver- drier or accumulator

It is normal to have moisture in the refrigerant. So, this receiver-drier aids in the removal of any water detected in the refrigerant and converts it to the evaporator.

These are the five essential parts of all car ACs. So, we will also look at some other parts of the ACs. They are equally necessary, but their presence in any car depends on the make and model of the car.

Other parts of AC are

6. Refrigerant

Refrigerant is a feature in the form of fluid that is highly heat sensitive. It has a low boiling point in AC as a heat exchange medium.

7. Pressure-regulating device

By adjusting the pressure and airflow into the evaporator, this feature aids in temperature management.

How Much Gas Can a Car Use When AC is On?

According to Natural resources Canada, the table below contains the expected gas expenses and CO2 emissions related to car air conditioning (AC) use.

Yearly mileage driven in an air-conditioned vehicle.Yearly rise in gas consumption
with a/c use-
Cost of gas for air conditioning over ten years-CO2 emissions from air conditioning over ten years-
If your a/c uses
1 L/100 km.
If your a/c uses
2 L/100 km.
If your a/c uses
1 L/100 km.
If your a/c uses
2 L/100 km.
If your a/c uses
1 L/100 km.
If your a/c uses
2 L/100 km.
14,000 km140 L280 L$1,400$2,8003,220 kg6,440 kg
12,000 km120 L240 L$1,200$2,4002,760 kg5,520 kg
10,000 km100 L200 L$1,000$2,0002,300 kg4,600 kg
8,000 km80 L160 L$800$1,6001,840 kg3,680 kg
6,000 km60 L120 L$600$1,2001,380 kg2,760 kg

We made the above estimate using the following information

  • $1.00 for a liter of gas and
  • 2.3 kilograms for a liter of gas based on CO2 emissions

How to Drive with AC and Use Less Gas

Although driving with AC adds to your gas consumption, there are still ways to make your car use less gas even when your car AC is on.

Considering these tips, you may not notice the gas consumption in your vehicle.

So let’s walk you through some of these tips

driving car on highway

Slow braking/acceleration.

When it’s essential, gradually apply the brakes. Coming to a slow halt and then gently speeding up is a smart way to save gas while driving with air conditioning.


When it comes to gas mileage, your tires play a vital influence. Make sure they’re all in good shape. Ensure that you inflate the tires of your car and also align them.


When your car’s air conditioning is on, don’t leave it idle for too long.

Use sun reflectors

When parking your automobile in a sunny setting, make sure to use sun reflectors

The quality of oil

You must invest in good engine oil because low-quality oil has a negative impact on the gas economy.

Drive at a low speed.

Do not travel at a high rate when the window is open will lead to excessive gas use.

Use the recirculation feature

We recommend ‌using your air conditioner’s recirculation feature. It allows your AC to use less gas because it cools just the air in your car.

Open the windows.

Do not instantly turn on the air conditioning when you want to drive. Instead, you should open the windows to let the heated air out.

Avoid heavy loads.

Do not overhaul your vehicle, as this will add to your gas consumption because it puts more pressure on the engine and causes it to work more.

Wrapping Up

Driving with your air conditioner uses more gas since it puts an extra strain on the car engine and makes it work harder. If you follow the above instructions, you can still drive with your air conditioner and save money on gas.

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