It’s never a bad idea to think of ways to save money. When it comes to car ownership, you can lower your monthly expenses by optimizing fuel economy. But what effect does a car heater have on fuel economy? And does a car heater use gas? Let’s take a look.
How Does a Car Heater Work?
Before we look at car heaters’ relationship to fuel economy, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of how they work.
Your car heater is part of a system that serves two roles: heating your car’s cabin on cold days and keeping the engine cool. That means your car heater is associated with functions that extend beyond merely keeping the cabin warm.
The heater interacts with these components:
While you’re driving, your car engine naturally generates heat. Some of this heat needs to be directed away from the engine to prevent it from overheating. Most of the heat generated by the engine is expelled via the exhaust system, but the rest of it is channeled to the coolant that flows within your car’s HVAC system.
The coolant carries the engine’s heat to the heater core. When this happens, the heater core gets warm. At this point, the car’s blower motor will force warm air out of the heater core and into the car’s cabin. The rate at which this air is transferred will depend on the level at which you’ve set your car’s HVAC control panel.
Does a Car Heater Use Gas?
Your car heater uses some gas, but the amount consumed is negligible.
The warm air generated by your car heater is produced using heat from the car’s cooling system. Heat that’s naturally created by the engine while it’s in use is sent to the coolant, and this is used to blow hot air into the cabin.
This means that, for the most part, your car heater doesn’t rely on fuel to warm the cabin. However, the heater needs some electricity to function. When heat is required, a signal is sent to the heating system’s internal fan, which then starts to spin. This process results in a small amount of fuel consumption.
Will Turning Off the Car Heater Improve Fuel Economy?
Turning off your car heater doesn’t have much of an impact on fuel consumption, so it won’t affect fuel economy noticeably.
Your car heater is part of a complex system, but thankfully it won’t guzzle fuel. Now that you know how this component works, you can make more informed choices about the care and operation of your vehicle.
Check out all the car heater parts available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on whether a car heater uses gas, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.