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Tips from the Auto Shop: Windows vs. AC for Gas Mileage

Air conditioner from auto shop inside of car

Our Auto Shop Analysts Look at the Efficiency of Windows vs. AC

With the summer months quickly approaching, you will soon have no choice but to provide some sort of temperature relief when driving under the scorching sun. During your daytime commute, you are left with about two options in order to cool down from the summer heat: turning on your air conditioner or rolling down your windows. Unfortunately, both of these methods can come with a cost in terms of fuel efficiency. Rolling down your windows causes your car to slow down a bit because of the increased drag, consequently making your vehicle require more gas to operate. On the other hand, turning up your air conditioner makes the engine of your car work harder, also increasing the amount of fuel used.

So, the question is, which of these two methods will give you the most cooling for your buck? At Terry’s Auto Service and Towing, we’ve analyzed both options and provided an explanation for what we believe is the most fuel-efficient technique in this installment of ‘Tips from the Auto Shop.

Windows Down

Rolling your windows down does not subtract from your fuel efficiency as much as turning your air conditioner on, but can nevertheless be impractical at times. If it is already sweltering outside, then rolling down your windows may not do much besides bringing in an intake of warm air. Additionally, having your windows down at higher speeds can make driving uncomfortable and significantly more difficult because of the higher drag. Our tip from the auto shop is to use the windows-down technique while cruising at speeds below 40 mph, as the increased drag from the outside air will be minimized because of your controlled speed.

Air Conditioner

Many people often elect to just turn on the air conditioner because it provides quick relief and supplies a relatively more refreshing release of air than simply opening your windows would. However, your car engine will subsequently be working much harder to continually provide the cool air, nearly diminishing your fuel efficiency by 50 percent than if you did not have your air on. Our tip from the auto shop is to abstain from using your air conditioner unless you are surpassing speeds of 40 mph; your engine (and wallet) will be much happier.

Finding a Balance

In the end, using each method at the prescribed driving conditions will result in the best source of air relief at a cost-efficient level. If you are still fixated on conserving the optimal level of fuel for your vehicle, then our auto shop advises buying a portable fan or simply moving up north to avoid the heat altogether.

Contact Terry’s Auto Service and Towing For More Auto Shop Tips

Contact us at 417-866-1400, or visit our auto shop in Springfield, Missouri, for more information on how to efficiently beat the heat or any other auto-related questions you may have.

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