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Does a Car Heater Use Gas? Here’s Your Answer

Many car owners are always interested in improving the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, even at the expense of some features. The most common feature people expend in this process is the heater, as they generally think it consumes much fuel. Does a car heater use gas? We will answer that in this guide. 

Does a Car Heater Use Gas to Function?

showing if does a car heater use gas

The simple answer to the question is “yes.” Car heaters use fuel to function, but not in the way you think. The heater itself does not use gas, as the heat it uses to raise the temperature in the car comes from the engine. Here is how a car heater’s mechanism works: the heater takes the heat from the running engine and converts it to the hot air blown into your car’s interior.

The implication is that the heater itself does not use gas to function but relies on that which the engine consumes. Since the heater does not use gas, it is easy to conclude that it does not affect your car’s fuel consumption. But, again, this is not the case. The heater may not use gas directly but does so in some indirect ways.

The first is that the engine uses gas to function, and the heater relies on the engine to do its job. The other indirect way a car heater uses gas is through its motors and fans, through which it blows the hot air into the car’s interior. These other parts of the heating system use gas, although in minute quantities.

Overall, the heater does not use gas directly, and its parts that do so only consume minimal gas. Therefore, turning off your car’s heater does not save extra fuel. However, the difference is so negligible that you cannot notice it.

How Does a Car Heater Work?

Now that you understand the answer to “Does a car heater use gas?”, you may want to know a few other things about how heaters work. Knowing that heaters do not affect drive fuel, you may be wondering where they get the power to perform their functions. That is what we will explain in this section.

The first thing you should know is that the heat from the engine is a way to keep the engine cool while working. The engine has a coolant that helps keep the engine temperature stable. This coolant takes the excess heat from the engine to the radiator. If your heater is not on, the heat is let out of the car, but the process changes if the heater is on.

The heater fan absorbs the heat from the radiator and turns it to warm air that is circulated throughout the cabin. This process is known as the heat exchange, and it is primarily a task between the liquid coolant, the radiator, heater fan, and air conditioning motor that helps blow the air through the vents and ducts in the car.

Do Electric Cars Heaters Use Gas?

Many people who ask, “Does a car heater use gas?” do not include electric cars in the fold. However, others are interested in how heaters work in EVs. If you are one of the second group of people, we have written this section to answer your question.

Electric cars do not use gas to run, so it is easy to say that they do not use gas. In reality, this is not so. Electric cars may not use gas for fuel, but their batteries work instead. Therefore, different car parts, such as the heater, drain the power out of the battery to function.

You may want to hold back from using the heater much in your electric car to preserve your car’s battery life. This is where the EV differs from internal combustion engine cars that do not use much fuel from the car to function. U.S. DOE and U.S. EPA reported that EV fuel economy can reduce by 39-41% during the winter and about two-thirds of the energy consumed is to heat the cabin.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

In addition to answering the question of, “Does a car heater use gas,” we have gone a step forward to answer some of the questions people have regarding car heater’s gas usage. Here are the answers you are looking for:

Will Turning Off the Heater Improve My Car’s Fuel Efficiency?

Not really. The heater and other accessories that work with it do not consume enough fuel to affect your fuel economy ratings. So, if you are cold, don’t suffer unnecessarily in the bid to reduce your car’s fuel cost. 

Instead, you should check out fuel efficiency tips that may help. Such methods include having the proper tire pressure to prevent aerodynamic drag and keep the trunk light.

Does the Car Heater Use Battery?

Again, this is another instance where the heater does not work according to popular belief. The heater does not use a car’s battery to work but the fan does. The fan draws power from the battery, which it then uses to pump the hot air from the engine into the car’s interior. The pressure of the fan on the car battery may affect the battery performance if you are not careful.

Does the Car Heater Work With the Engine Off?

Your car heater cannot work with the engine off. Since the heater draws its power from the engine, it cannot work without the latter. This is why your car heater may not work well if you turn it on immediately after turning the ignition on. Usually, the engine needs a while to heat up before the heater can start drawing heat from it.

Also, when the engine is off, the battery will stop working. This will affect the heater’s fan, which needs the battery to run. If you want to keep the heater on while waiting inside your car, you have to leave the ignition on and let the engine idle. Of course, the heater will keep consuming gas and battery through its fan, but it is the price you have to pay for comfort.

Final Thoughts

Now you have the answer to your question: “Does a car heater use gas?” The simple fact is that car heaters use gas, but not in the way you think. The heater does not use gas to function, but its components do, such as the motor and the fan that blows the air into the car. 

It does not call for much worry though. The amount of gas these components consume is negligible enough not to affect your car’s fuel economy. The consequences of not using a heater during the cold wintry days is surely more than the extra fuel cost.