Driving in the summer heat can be extremely uncomfortable, especially because as Brits we’re simply not used to having to do it too often! Just a couple of hours in the sun at a warm temperature can turn vehicles into ovens, and it can be difficult to cool them down. Even short journeys can be unbearable when the sun is shining, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for a heat wave.

It’s an age old debate whether air conditioning or simply driving with the windows down is the best way to keep cool in the car. Most people know that having the air con switched on continuously uses more fuel, but there’s a belief that this method keeps the car cooler at all speeds.

So when the temperature rises, what is the most effective and efficient way to keep cool when driving? We’ve explored the pros and cons of riding with the top down/windows open and blasting the air conditioning.

Air con pros

  • It can reduce the inside temperature of the car very quickly
  • Most people prefer to use air con at high speeds on the motorway
  • With the windows up, you can enjoy reduced noise and still make calls on Bluetooth
  • Depending on the car and the quality of the air con system, the inside temperature is usually cooler using air con than having windows down

Windows down pros

  • It is more fuel efficient to not use the air con so you will save petrol
  • Everyone can hear your summer tunes!

Air con cons

  • Can drastically reduce fuel efficiency
  • Can use up lots of petrol on long journeys
  • Air conditioning systems can release bad odours if not serviced regularly

Windows down cons

  • It’s very noisy with the windows open, especially on motorways
  • The engine has to work harder at high speeds when driving with open windows
  • Insects and bugs can fly in!

As you can see there are benefits to both methods of cooling the car, and you may choose to alternate between each method. But studies have shown that it is always more fuel efficient to have the windows open rather than use the air conditioning – even at high speeds. This is because the air con eats up a lot more fuel compared to the effects of drag caused by having the windows open.

To find out more about maintaining your car’s air conditioning, speak to our skilled mechanics.

Air Con VS Driving with Open Windows