Does Car AC Use Gas?

Air Conditioning Button

You’ve probably heard that using the air conditioning system on your next road trip will dramatically lower your vehicle’s fuel economy. So, does car AC use gas every time the temperature soars in Philadelphia? The answer is yes — the AC system in your car does consume fuel. Like many of your car’s features, the AC system is powered by the alternator, which in turn is powered by the engine. In this guide from the Springfield Mitsubishi service center, learn why AC uses gas — and what you can do to boost gas mileage when you hit the road this summer.

How Car AC Works 

No matter what make and model you drive in Delaware County, the air conditioning system works in the same way. All vehicles employ a high-pressure gas called refrigerant to power the AC. The air conditioning system in your vehicle is comprised of the following parts:


  • Compressor – Compresses the refrigerant into a fluid, allowing it to flow freely to the condenser. 
  • Condenser – Lowers the temperature of the refrigerant and sends it to the expansion valve/orifice tube. 
  • Expansion Valve/Orifice Tube – Reverts the refrigerant to its original gaseous state and delivers it to the receiver/drier (also known as the accumulator).
  • Accumulator – Lowers the moisture content of the refrigerant and delivers it to the evaporator. 
  • Evaporator – Extracts heat from the air that passes through its core, and transfers the heat to the refrigerant. As a result, cooled air begins to flow from the evaporator. 

Can Using Car AC Be Fuel-Efficient? 

Sometimes, using your car’s AC is actually more fuel-efficient than rolling down the windows! According to the EPA, leaving your windows down when you hit highway speeds exacerbates aerodynamic drag and makes your engine work harder — even harder than it would if you’d rolled up the windows and cranked the AC to get relief from high temperatures in Morton, PA.

Other Ways to Improve Fuel Economy

Does car AC use gas equally no matter what, or are there ways to improve fuel efficiency? Aside from rolling up your windows while you cruise the highways, there are a number of ways to boost efficiency while the AC is running:


  • Brake gradually
  • Use high-quality engine oil
  • Don’t pack too many heavy items 
  • Ensure proper tire alignment and inflation
  • Avoid idling for longer than 30 seconds 
  • Use a sunshade when parked in direct sun
  • Reduce speed and drive in a higher gear 

Explore Fuel Efficient Vehicles at Springfield Mitsubishi 

If you have questions about vehicle maintenance or repairs, the team at Springfield Mitsubishi is here to help! Contact us to speak with an experienced technician about your DIY car care, or visit us in Springfield to schedule service for brake pad replacement, tire rotation, and more.


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