Inside Your Car 8 September 2021

Does car aircon use petrol

We’ve all been there. It’s a scorching hot day and all you want is a cool breeze to take the edge off. Before you can hit the aircon button, your hand is slapped away, followed by this common claim - the car aircon uses too much petrol. Everyone’s heard it at least once, but is it even true? Does the aircon in a car use petrol? And if so, how can you make sure yours is working efficiently?

Fact vs Fiction: Does car aircon use fuel?

The short answer is yes, your car aircon is using fuel. However, it doesn’t use as much as you think and in some cases, it’s actually more fuel efficient to run an aircon than it is to have your windows down.

At lower speeds, switching on your aircon will add to the workload of your car’s engine and increase fuel consumption. When driving in the city or in lower speed zones, winding down your windows is the best way to get the most out of a tank of fuel.

It’s a different story when it comes to freeways and driving at high speeds - aircon wins out over windows every time, thanks to a little known force called aerodynamic drag. Your car engine has to work harder to maintain your chosen speed, using more fuel. Having your windows up will reduce the impact of aerodynamic drag, saving both fuel and your ears! Nobody likes the feeling of wind whipping around their air canal.

The bottom line: Comfort. If you want to keep cool when travelling, running the aircon might be worth lower fuel economy.

How to get the best out of your car aircon

There are a few small things you can do to make sure your car aircon is running efficiently without getting stung at the bowser.

Purge hot air: Get rid of hot air by winding down your windows when you first start driving. Once the air in your car is cooler, close up and let the aircon get to work.

Play with your settings: Don’t blast the aircon on high as soon as you get into your car. Start low and gradually increase the setting to avoid pushing hot air around the car.

Point the vents upward: This will get the air moving around the car faster and will keep everyone – not just the driver – cool.

Look after your car aircon: A little TLC can go a long way. You can do simple things like wipe down the vents of dust to optimise the airflow. When it comes to regular servicing, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Keep your aircon and wallet healthy with a car aircon service

The best way to avoid chewing through fuel is to get your car aircon regularly serviced.

Any reputable car aircon specialist will address larger issues like leaks and hose damage while picking up little things like worn connections that help make a difference. Not sure if you need a car aircon service? Nip into your nearest mycar and we’ll perform a car health check, ensuring your cooling systems, air conditioner and other essentials remain smooth, slick and quick to fire.

Need to book in with us?

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