There’s nothing more uncomfortable than a hot car on a humid day. As the months start to get warmer, you’re going to want to start cranking up the car’s air conditioner more and more. But if you’re trying to save fuel (and ultimately money) for your car, you may want to reconsider even turning the A/C on.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), along with General Motors, did a study comparing the fuel efficiency of driving with the A/C on compared to driving with the windows down. There have been multiple debates on which method of cooling will be more fuel efficient for your vehicle. Keeping the windows down will increase drag when you’re driving and will need more fuel to run. Running the A/C means needing more fuel from the engine in order to run. Curious to which method was technically worse for your overall miles-per-gallon (mpg), SAE and General Motors decided to put it to the test.
After comparing cars that drove at 31 mph, 50 mph, and 68 mph in 86 degree weather, they came to the conclusion that driving with your windows down is actually more fuel efficient compared to running the A/C. And if you really want to save your mpg numbers, General motors also tested the fuel efficiency of closed windows and no A/C, which was significantly better than the other two.
So if you need to cool off on a hot summer day, rolling the windows down is the lesser of two evils. Even Discovery’s Mythbusters say so! Even though some experts say that using A/C is the wiser option when it comes to your mpg, it’s been proven otherwise in multiple tests.
Driving with the windows down isn’t the only way to save money on gas. We have a ton of tips for better gas mileage and fuel economy that are worth implementing.