Does Car AC Use Gas?

Air Conditioning

When dealing with hot and humid summers in Pottstown, it’s easy to blast the car air conditioning for icy cold relief. But, does car AC use gas? The answer is yes. Your air conditioning system is powered by the alternator, which gets its power from the engine. So when you lean too heavily on your AC, you can tank your fuel economy. But, there are some ways to offset the effects on your Lancaster and Allentown commutes. Find out how with Springfield Mitsubishi - Reading, and learn more service tips with our experts in Reading!

How Does Car AC Work? 

While some automotive systems vary tremendously from car to car model, the air conditioning system is largely the same. The AC system uses a high-pressure gas called “refrigerant” to cool the air inside the cabin quickly and effectively. Here are the most important components in your AC unit:

  • Compressor – Compresses the refrigerant into a fluid state, so it can flow freely into the condenser. 
  • Condenser – Brings the temperature of the refrigerant down and sends it to the expansion valve/orifice tube. 
  • Expansion Valve/Orifice Tube – Turns the refrigerant back to its original gaseous state and brings it to the receiver/drier (also known as the accumulator).
  • Accumulator – Lowers the moisture content of the refrigerant and sends it to the evaporator. 
  • Evaporator – Pulls heat from the air as it passes through its core, and transfers the heat to the refrigerant. Cooled air then flows through the evaporator. 

Can Using the AC Be Fuel Efficient? 

So, does car AC use gas? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a bad choice for your fuel economy. When you’re driving through town, you might find that rolling down the windows is a better option to help your fuel last longer. But when you’re on the highway, rolling down the windows actually creates more drag. This makes your car less aerodynamic, which makes the engine work harder. That means that when you drive on the highway, it’s actually more fuel-efficient to use the AC. Here are a few ways to boost your fuel economy:

  • Brake gradually
  • Use high-quality engine oil
  • Don’t pack too many heavy items 
  • Keep your tires aligned and inflated properly
  • Avoid idling for longer than 30 seconds 
  • Use a sunshade when parked in direct sun
  • Reduce speed and drive in a higher gear

Find Fuel Efficient Options at Springfield Mitsubishi - Reading

From fuel-efficient vehicles to fuel-boosting maintenance services, the team at Springfield Mitsubishi - Reading can transform the way you navigate Reading. Contact us with your questions or schedule a service today.


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