How Long Can I Leave the AC on While My Engine Is Not Running?

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You’ve parked your car, and are sitting inside waiting. Maybe you’re early for work and don’t want to head into the office just yet. Maybe you’re waiting for your spouse to get done in the convenience store. You don’t want to waste gas, so you turn off the engine, but it’s warm, so you leave the blower running. You know this pulls current from the battery, but just how long can you leave the AC on while your engine isn’t running?

Actually, this is a trick question. You cannot run the AC without the engine running. The air conditioner compressor and clutch are operated by the serpentine belt that runs your other accessories (your alternator, for instance). If the engine isn’t running, then the belt isn’t turning. That means your air conditioner’s not actually on. You cannot use the air conditioner if the engine is not running. It’s as simple as that.

What you’re really doing is running the blower motor. As long as there’s a charge in your battery and you’ve got the key set to the on position (some cars will let you run the blower in the ACC position, too), the blower will continue to operate. However, it’s only blowing air from the outside through the cabin, unless you have recirculate mode active. In that case, it’s just recycling the air in the cabin. It does not actually cool the air. Any sensation of coolness is simply because the air is moving, rather than still.


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Recent Electric Problems Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Electric Problems Inspection Service

Average Rating

4.8/5

Number of Reviews

471

Rating Summary
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Damian

10 years of experience
416 reviews
Damian
10 years of experience
Chrysler PT Cruiser - Electric Problems - Sanford, Florida
DAMIAN SHOWED UP EARLY AND WAS VERY COURTEOUS AND PROFESSIONAL.I WAS VERY IMPRESSED WITH HIS ELECTRICAL KNOWLEDGE. HE FOUND THE PROBLEM WHEREAS ANOTHER MECHANIC SAID WE SHOULD JUNK THE CAR. THANKS DAMIAN
Ford Escape - Electric Problems - Palm Bay, Florida
Damian was very professional and courteous, he explained everything that he was doing. Found the door lock had corrosion and fixed it in a very timely manner. Will recommend him to friends and family.

Chris

21 years of experience
1698 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Electric Problems Inspection - Garden Grove, California
I am happy with Chris recommendation, he also was professional, friendly and he also was early the appointment.
Volkswagen Super Beetle - Electric Problems - Murrieta, California
Chris Allshouse offered me an earlier appointment which I accepted and it helped to free up my afternoon. He quickly diagnosed my problem and set about resolving. He offered valuable information that would allow me to troubleshoot a problem before it arose. I couldn't be more pleased. I would rate Chris a 10 out of 10. Thanks gain Chris!!

Scott

35 years of experience
629 reviews
Scott
35 years of experience
Kia Rio - Electric Problems - Apache Junction, Arizona
Friendly and quick. I felt very comfortable handing over my car keys. He fixed the horn without having to replace it. I really appreciate his honesty. Would use this service again and be very happy to see Scott

Pardeep

20 years of experience
634 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Cadillac SRX - Electric Problems - San Jose, California
Pardeep is a great mechanic. He found the problem that the dealer didn’t find and my SRX is going back on the road as soon as parts I order come in. Thanks Pardeep.

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