Does Running the Air Conditioning Burn Fuel?

May 8th, 2013 by

2013 Mazdaspeed3One summer, some friends and I found a cheap cabin in Mobile, Alabama and decided to use an old minivan one of us owned to make the trip. We left in the cool early morning, so there was no need to roll down the window or use the air conditioning. Come 10:00 a.m., though, and the temperature in the car filled with four guys was quickly becoming unbearable. I did as any sensible person in the summer would do; I decided to start up the air conditioning. But as I moved to turn it on, my friend slapped my hand to stop me.

“I don’t want to be paying for more gas than we need to,” he chided, rolling down the window. “We’ve got all the nice air we need right here,” he said, as he motioned outside. Another member of our company was studying physics and was quick to disprove his statement, explaining that running the air-conditioning would actually save us more gas in the end.

Turn on the Air and Save Some Fuel

To answer our original question, yes, turning on your air-conditioning does burn fuel. But so does every other device in your car. Somehow, our friend didn’t have a problem blaring Zeppelin on the radio the whole trip.

My friends “save some gas” logic would have worked if he didn’t then immediately roll the windows down. The incoming rush of air creates increased drag on the vehicle, meaning your engine has to burn more gas to keep up to speed. Studies have shown that simply keeping the windows up and using the air-conditioning saves a lot more fuel than the alternative.

Air not working? Come in to See Cox Mazda!

Going without air-conditioning in the Florida summer can be absolutely unbearable. If you’re turning the knob and nothing is happening, we encourage you schedule a service appointment with the team at Cox Mazda. We’ve got the technical expertise and experience to get you in and out the door quickly, and for a low price. We’re here to help you stay comfortable in the summer!

Posted in Automotive Tips