Staying cool in the heat…Windows or A/C?

It’s getting warm in Schaumburg and across Illinois. To beat the heat on the warmest days, you have two options: Roll the windows down, or crank up the A/C.

But for the environmentally- and Fuel-conscious among us, this simple decision can become a loaded debate. Which option is better for your vehicle’s fuel efficiency?

Windows Down

The biggest factor with windows is drag. Cars are designed to be aerodynamic with the windows up, but rolling them down increases the wind resistance. Your vehicle needs to use more energy (and gas) to push through the extra air flow and move along the roads. This effect is small at lower speeds, giving you the fresh breeze to cool down. But at highway speeds, the drag can be very noticeable.

A/C On

Air conditioning puts an extra load on your engine. Though running an extra belt and A/C pump doesn’t sound like a lot, it means your engine has to work a little harder and use more gas to keep the car running. And while it depends on several factors, A/C can reduce fuel economy by more than 25% (according to In some cars you may even notice a drop of power immediately when you turn on the A/C.

Windows or A/C?

So which is better for your vehicle?  Though every car is different, in general it is better to roll the windows down at low speeds and save the A/C for the highway.

If you’re looking to save even more, try turning the AC up a few degrees, parking in the shade, or using a windshield cover to keep your vehicle cool.

And when your air conditioning struggles to get your car cool, bring it into our shop right away. Our certified technicians will perform an inspection to identify the issue and perform repairs to get the A/C working efficiently to keep you cool without putting excess load on the engine.

Drop by our independent auto repair shop in Schaumburg anytime or call to schedule an appointment: 847.985.6196

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