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How to Affordably Run Your Car’s Air Conditioning

As gas prices continue setting record highs, many drivers are cutting back on certain conveniences—like vehicle air conditioning. Thankfully, there are easy ways to get the comfort of air conditioning without emptying your pockets. The mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here with insight on how to affordably run your air conditioning. 

How Much Gas Does a Car’s Air Conditioner Use?

Switching on your car’s air conditioning system will use some gas. There are estimates that the air conditioning system will lower mileage by about 3 MPG. However, it is more likely that the cost of running your car’s air conditioner will depend on your vehicle’s age, make, model, and driving speed—as well as external factors like the outside temperature. However, one of the most important factors to consider is your car’s HVAC health. 

Proper Freon Levels

When your car is low on refrigerant, your compressor will need to work harder to produce cool air, leading to a greater toll on your fuel efficiency and your wallet. Ensuring that your air conditioner is evenly charged with freon can help you affordably run your car’s AC system. 

However, your air conditioner circulates refrigerant in a sealed system, meaning that it should not need refrigerant recharged regularly throughout the lifespan of your vehicle. In most cases, low AC refrigerant is the sign of a leak or break somewhere in your system. 

Low AC vs. High AC: Which Settings are Best for Gas Mileage?

There are two air conditioner settings to consider in your vehicle: the temperature and the speed settings. Each of these settings affects your gas mileage in different ways. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Temperature settings: Lower AC temperatures will require more gas than moderate temperature settings, so consider setting your car’s AC temperature as high as comfortably possible to save gas. 
  • Speed settings: Truthfully, once you turn your air conditioner on and set the temperature, it does not matter how high you run it. Your air conditioning compressor uses gas to run your system. However, the motor that controls how high or low your AC system runs is often powered by the alternator. In other words, running your air conditioning on full blast will use just as much gas as running it on its lowest settings.

As such, it is best to use the most moderate comfortable temperature setting on the highest speed for maximum comfort and savings. 

Other Ways to Stay Cool and Save at the Pump

Combining these insights with other fuel-saving methods can help you stay cool while saving money at the pump. Easy tips and tricks include:

  • Low tire pressure will gravely impact your fuel economy. You can save at the pump with free tire pressure refills.
  • Use your air conditioner to stay cool at high speeds and roll down your windows at lower speeds. 
  • Park in a covered garage, shady spot, or use sun shades to keep your cabin comfortable while parked.
  • Make sure you keep up with all the maintenance and routine services that help your car run efficiently. 

Chapel Hill Tire Car AC Service in the Triangle

If you need an air conditioner recharge or repair, the experts at Chapel Hill Tire are here for you! We proudly serve our customers through 9 locations across Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. Our local mechanics also commonly support nearby communities, including Knightdale, Cary, Pittsboro, Wake Forest, Hillsborough, Morrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointment, browse our coupons, or give us a call to get started today!

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