Is It Safe To Sleep In A Running Car With The Air Conditioner On?

Can I Sleep in my Car with the AC On? It could be cosy dozing off in a car with the air conditioner and the car’s engine running but is it safe to sleep in a running car with the AC on? That’s the question that should be running in your mind.

There have always been concerns when it comes to sleeping in a running car with the air conditioner on. As much as the action appears to only impact on your fuel consumption, there could be dire consequences. 

In this article, we look at how safe it is to sleep in a running car with the air conditioner on.

Can I leave my Car AC running while I Sleep in It?

The answer is staring at you right in the face; absolutely no! While it may be possible to do so, it isn’t advisable to do it. Taking a nap in your car with the windows rolled down is not such a bad idea. However, napping in a running car with the air conditioner on means locking yourself within a confined space while being dependent on only the breeze from the air conditioner. This could be suicidal as you stand the risk of being poisoned by carbon monoxide. 

Due to the inability of ventilation to take place, there is every possibility that the same air will be recycled over and over again. This may cause the entry of carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes into the car via the cabin, thereby leading to lightheadedness, nausea, fatigue, and consequently, death. 

With the colourless and odourless nature of the carbon monoxide gas, there is no probability of you jerking back to reality, just in time to save yourself from lethal poisoning. 

The effect of keeping the car running with the air conditioner on could also have negative impacts on the car engine and car battery. It could wear the car engine out and run the battery down. 

Also, the radiator which is responsible for cooling the car’s engine can only perform its function if the car is constantly in motion. Leaving the car running without actually moving could lead to a build-up of heat, thereby damaging the radiator. 

Simply put, if you are to sleep in your car at all, it is advisable to ensure that you continue receiving a steady supply of oxygen, either by rolling down the windows, parking under a tree or both. Failure to do this means you stand the risk of suffering from suffocation, poisoning and maybe, death. 

Is It Safe To Sit In A Running Car With The Air Conditioner On?

Is sitting really worth risking a lot of things for? The answer to this question isn’t very different from what has been discussed above. Sitting in a running car with the air conditioner depicts an invitation to danger–the danger of restricted breathing, poisoning and death

The only noteworthy difference lies in the fact that a person sitting in a running car with the air conditioner on probably has the chance of escaping death rather than the person sleeping in it. This is because a person sleeping is in a semi-unconscious state and is quite oblivious of things going on around them. 

On the other hand, a person sitting in it can either run to safety or call for help from onlookers and passers-by. Still, it is neither safe nor advisable to sit in a car’s enclosed space with the air conditioner on, especially if the car isn’t in motion. 

Running Air Conditioner When Car Is Off

Running the air conditioner when the car is off is quite impossible. This is because the belt which powers the compressor of the air conditioner is directly connected to the engine.

A car is fully dependent on the engine and so are all the parts of the car. As long as the engine is off, the air conditioner would cease to function. A lot of people, though, tend to refer to the blower as the air conditioner. This could be due to the similarities in their sound, as well as where they are located.

As long as the battery is charged, a blower, which is powered electrically, can function properly even when the car engine is off. The effect of using a blower might not be like that of an air conditioner due to the fact that a blower only tends to recycle the air in the cabin to provide ventilation and doesn’t actually cool the hair. 

This is the major reason why some people say that it blows hot air sometimes. Thus, as long as the engine is off, you can get rid of the fear of an eventuality taking place.

Car Idling with Air Conditioner On

Car idling simply refers to the process of keeping the car’s engine running when the car isn’t in motion. This is not a big deal and we actually do this more often than we pay attention to it on a daily basis. For example, when stopped by the traffic light, at zebra crossings, etc. 

Apart from the hazardous effects car idling could have on human health and the environment, it could also pose a threat to the engine. 

Car idling shares a close relation with engine exhaust and thus, could lead to various health challenges such as respiratory infections, cough, bronchial irritation, and so on. Also, due to the fact that car idling means a partial operation of the car’s engine, it could lead to a build-up of incombustible fuel, thereby leaving behind residues that can cause damages to the exhaust system. 

The environment isn’t left out as it also suffers pollution as a result of the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from exhaust pipes.

Car idling isn’t known to adversely affect air conditioners as long as the cooling system is functioning. 

However, sometimes when the air conditioner is turned on during idling and the engine sound changes to some loud funny noises, it could be due to a number of reasons: a dirty valve, a dirty throttle, or a faulty cooling system.

In the absence of the above named factors, you could grab a quick lunch or work on that proposal you have been putting off for quite some time without worrying about what harm is being done.

Car Air Conditioner on Battery

In order to power the air conditioner well, the battery has to be in the right condition. When a car battery is weak, the resultant effect will be evident in the functionality of the air conditioner. Even if you are lucky enough to get the air conditioner powered by a weak battery, you probably won’t get the desired result. 

At the end of the day, you may just have to accept defeat and prefer to roll down the windows instead. The effect an air conditioner also has on a car battery isn’t any better. A constant use of the air conditioner takes a toll on the battery and tends to weaken it over time. As such, unless in desperate situations, many people tend to depend on the blower at first, before opting for the air conditioner if there’s a need for it.

Bottom Line

As tempting as it is to fall into the trap of falling asleep and taking a quick nap in your air-conditioned vehicle, the fact still remains that it isn’t the best. 

Yes, it is your car and you can choose to do with it what you want but should the risks associated with sleeping in the car with the air conditioner running be ignored? 

Is it really worth risking your life for, especially when you can seek out other means for a similar mode of relaxation? I doubt it. Coupled with these risks, sleeping in your car also renders you prone to theft or even kidnapping depending on your area. 

Instead of subjecting yourself to all forms of dangerous and avoidable situations, I bet it will be better to indulge yourself with a more conducive environment to sleep.

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