How Much Fuel Does A Car A/C Use?

How Much Fuel Does A Car A/C Use?

Your car A/C will usually consume a certain degree of fuel. The exact amount is based on numerous factors, such as the brand, your driving habits, state of the compressor, condenser, and other things. Generally speaking, most drivers will consume from ten to twenty-five percent of gas while operating their vehicles during summer or in hotter climates. 

Drive Speed

The speed you drive the vehicle at while operating your A/C will determine how much fuel you use. For example, driving at slower speeds will actually use more fuel when compared to driving fast, and this is because fast driving tends to have greater fuel efficiency especially when the air conditioning is activated. 

Air Conditioning Settings

Your air conditioning settings will also influence fuel consumption. Generally speaking, the highest A/C settings will typically consume lower fuel since it primarily recirculates the cooler air through the usage of an A/C fan. This is different from the standard air conditioning which must operate from scratch in order to cool down the vehicle, resulting in greater fuel usage.


Climate also plays a role in the amount of fuel consumed by your vehicle’s air conditioning system. Drivers that live in desert, tropical and semi-tropical climates will often consume greater fuel than drivers living in temperate climates because the higher heat and humidity prompts them to use their air conditioning at a much higher rate. During winter A/C usage will drop substantially in northern climates, whereas in the tropics A/C usage will continue since the temperatures will often remain fairly high.

How Much Gasoline Does The A/C Consume While Parked?

The answer to this question is determined by whether a vehicle is completely off or idle. If the vehicle is full of passengers while the engine is on, this means the engine will be resting, and because it’s resting, you won’t be using a great deal of fuel. If the A/C is on you’re probably using no more than ten percent additional gas.

Can You Save Money on Gas By Not Using Your A/C?

Yes and no. While not activating the A/C while you drive the vehicle will conserve gas, there are additional things to consider. For instance, when your windows are open, the vehicle will have exposure to the wind that will produce resistance. As a consequence, the engine will have to work to handle this resistance so the vehicle can continue running normally. This action will place stress on your engine which will culminate in it using extra fuel.

Furthermore, if you’re operating the vehicle at a high speed, such as on a freeway, the situation can actually worsen because additional speed means greater resistance which of course means extra work on the part of the engine which requires it to use more fuel.

As you can see, turning off the A/C and opening the windows to allow a cool breeze in sounds like a simple way to conserve fuel on paper, this is only true if you drive the vehicle at slower speeds. And depending on the local speed limits you can get into trouble for going too slow.