Does Car AC Use Gas?

Air Conditioning Button

Does air conditioning in the car use gas? Yes, your car AC system uses gasoline as it lowers the temperature of your cabin. Why does this matter? Because heavy AC use can also decrease your fuel economy, which can make those summer road trips more expensive. But, there are ways to adjust your driving habits to get more mileage out of each tank – even during sweltering forecasts in Providence and East Greenwich. Find out the answer to, “Why does AC burn car gas?” and more service tips with Mercedes-Benz of Warwick!



How Car AC Works 

How does car AC use gas? The air conditioning system is the same in nearly every vehicle. A gas called refrigerant is placed under high pressure, which helps to pull heat from the cabin air. Here is a brief rundown of the components in most air conditioning systems:

  • Compressor – The refrigerant flows into the compressor, where it is forced into a liquid state. Then it moves into the condenser.
  • Condenser – The refrigerant is cooled and sent into the expansion valve/orifice tube. 
  • Expansion Valve/Orifice Tube – The refrigerant returns to its original gaseous state and moved into the receiver/drier (also known as the accumulator).
  • Accumulator – Moisture is removed from the refrigerant as it flows into the evaporator.
  • Evaporator – The evaporator moves the heat from its core into the cooled refrigerant, which allows cooled air to flow freely throughout the cabin.

Can Using Car AC Be Fuel-Efficient? 

So, does AC burn car gas? Yes, but sometimes it’s still the more effective way to travel on a hot day in Cranston. You might get better fuel efficiency from rolling down your windows when traveling around town. But if you’re on the highway, it’s actually more efficient to keep your windows up and turn the AC on.

Why? The EPA reports that rolling your windows down on the highway can create more aerodynamic drag. This makes your engine work harder, which brings down your fuel economy even more. So when driving in the city, try rolling your windows down. But when driving on the highway, use the AC instead.

Other Ways to Improve Fuel Economy

We’ve discussed why air conditioning systems use gas, but how can you offset those effects? You can improve your everyday driving habits with just a few simple adjustments:

  • Avoid harsh stops and accelerations.
  • Use high-quality engine oil.
  • Keep your cabin de-cluttered to bring down your car’s weight.
  • Get regular tire alignments and check your air pressure.
  • Avoid idling for longer than 30 seconds.
  • Reduce cabin heat with sunshades.
  • Reduce speed and drive in a higher gear.

Explore Fuel-Efficient Vehicles at Mercedes-Benz of Warwick 

Whether you want to invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle or schedule a maintenance inspection to keep your current car in great shape, contact us at Mercedes-Benz of Warwick. Our showroom is located in Warwick, and we’d be happy to help with all of your automotive needs!


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