Does Car AC Use Gas?

November 1st, 2018 by

Closeup of a car's AC button

Yes — like many of your car’s features, the air conditioning system uses gas. The air conditioner draws energy from the alternator, which is powered by the engine. Fuel is needed to power your Toyota car‘s engine. However, in some situations, using the AC can be more efficient than not using it. Read on to learn more about how your car’s air conditioning system works and the role it plays in gas mileage.

How Car AC Works

Generally, air conditioning works the same for all cars. All systems run on a high-pressure gas called refrigerant. No matter the make, the air conditioning system uses the following parts:

  • 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?

According to the EPA, using your car’s AC can be more efficient while driving at highway speeds than leaving the windows open. The main reason is open windows elevate aerodynamic drag, causing the engine to work harder and burn more fuel. This is good news if you’re like many drivers who rely on their air conditioning during Mission Hills’s hot summers or while navigating the LA freeways. So, if you’re ever asked, “Does car AC waste gas,” the answer is no if the AC is used at highway speeds.

Other Ways to Improve Fuel Economy

In addition to rolling the windows up at highway speeds, there are plenty of other ways to improve fuel economy on Cerritos and West Hollywood roads. Here are a few suggestions:

  • 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

Learn More About Your Toyota at Toyota of Downtown LA!

Do you have additional questions or need AC service? Contact us or schedule an appointment near Huntington Park! Before you schedule, take a moment to browse our current service specials and parts specials for savings.

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