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Does Car AC Use Gas?

2021 Chevrolet Colorado dashboard


As the temperature begins to rise in Wisconsin, more drivers are switching on their vehicle’s air conditioning to keep cool during their commutes. However, you may have noticed that you use more gas while driving with your AC on. If you’re wondering if your car AC uses gas, the answer is yes! Like many of the features in your vehicle, using the air conditioning system will affect your vehicle’s gas mileage. Read on to learn more about how your car’s air conditioning system works and the role it plays in gas mileage, then read our other car service tips for more information on how to care for your vehicle.

How Car Air Conditioning Works

The air conditioning system works the same for pretty much every vehicle on Wisconsin roads. AC systems run on a high-pressure gas called refrigerant. Each part in the car AC system helps keep the cabin of your vehicle cool. Read more about these parts and how they work below:

  • Compressor — compresses the refrigerant into a fluid, so the refrigerant flows through a line to the condenser
  • Condenser — removes the heat from the refrigerant and pushes it along to the expansion valve or orifice tube
  • Expansion valve or orifice tube — returns the refrigerant to its original gaseous state and moves it to the receiver/drier or accumulator
  • Receiver/drier or accumulator — removes moisture from the refrigerant and transfers it to the evaporator
  • Evaporator — pulls heat from the air passing through its core and transfers it into the refrigerant, resulting in cold air flowing beyond the evaporator

Can Using Car AC Be Fuel-Efficient?

Even though your AC system uses more gas than when you drive without it running, there are some situations where you can be efficient in your AC use. According to the EPA, when you use your vehicle’s AC while driving on the highway, your fuel usage will be more efficient than if you drive with your windows down. So if you frequently take Wisconsin highways to run errands or commute to work, you can stay cool while saving on your fuel costs.

Other Ways to Improve Fuel Economy

In addition to keeping your windows up while driving on the highway, there are many other ways you can be fuel efficient while you drive. Read some of our tips below on how to be fuel efficient as you drive in Wisconsin:

  • Brake gradually
  • Make sure your car’s tires are properly inflated and aligned
  • Don’t idle for more than 30 seconds
  • Pack light
  • Use sun reflectors if you’re parking in a sunny spot
  • Don’t use cheap engine oil
  • Reduce your speed and drive in a higher gear

Keep Your Car in Top Shape with Holiday Automotive

If your vehicle’s AC system needs repair, visit one of our many locations to have your vehicle maintained, so you can stay cool this summer. You can also read our other car service tips to learn more about other topics like what antifreeze is and how to rotate your car tires. Visit us today and we look forward to helping you keep your vehicle in excellent condition!

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