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Air conditioning sucks

I have not been using A/C much in my FFH, preferring to use the driving without air technique to save on mpg.  However today was very hot and humid in the Philadelphia area. I decided to use A/C on my way home from work.

Now, on Friday last week I set a new record for the ride home from work (which is mostly uphill, about 7 miles) of 45.5 without A/C.  My battery started that trip at a high state of charge, which helps because more electric power is available to assist the internal combustion engine.

Today, with temperatures in the 95-100 degree range and high humidity, I set my A/C on 76 for the drive home.  The A/C is driven from the electric engine.  It uses quite a lot of power according to the FFH's "accessories" power gauge, especially while first cooling the car.  I quickly realized how much impact this would have on the trip home as I passed several milestones at low mpg figures.  Typically its fairly easy for me to get 38 or so mpg.  Today, I got 25.4 mpg!  Admittedly, I did not drive as carefully for mpg as I sometimes do; and the battery started at about 40% charge (and never got above about 50% during the trip due to the A/C power draw).

A/C can really suck mpgs out of the FFH, especially on short trips where its on max for much of the trip during the initial cool-down period.

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Reader Comments (12)

At least use the AC when you take guests to lunch in your car. It may have been on when I rode with you but it was imperceptible in the back seat! Also, park in a "pull-through" parking spot when the lot is empty - better gas mileage.

August 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Just a suggestion, but why not go a week driving comfortably with a/c and come up with a good average mpg? I am STILL waiting for my FFH :(...

August 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Hi Bill, same here in the DC area. When the weather is agreeable I was right around 40-41MPG, but yesterday on the way home it was 98 and the 54 mile trip averaged 27 MPG. I have not seen a big MPG hit when the temps are in the 80s, and even the low 90s is not so bad... but once it gets 95 and up the MPG really suffers.

August 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjeff_h

Paul, thanks for the feedback ;-)

Matt, good idea; however I'm about to take it up to Maine and I'll write about that. Hope your car comes soon!

Jeff, I did better today - a bit cooler with longer drive-time - mpg was about 35.

August 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterBill Wood

I have noticed a similar trend, though not as drastic as your first experience. Here in Southwest Oklahoma, it has been difficult to go with out A/C. My one way commute is about 17 miles. Without AC I average about 38-41 MPG, with AC that number is usually more like 33-35.

One thing that I generally do is go ahead and run the AC while the ICE warms up to normal operating temperature. This helps get the initial temperature in the car down from 120 or so to a manageable 85. Once the engine is warmed up and I can get in EV mode I turn the AC back off and go with either the fan or a window cracked.

August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Watkins

Bill, that's a good strategy. Another thing you can do is keep the A/C at a higher temperature like 78 - maybe you'd still be comfortable without as big a mileage hit.

August 21, 2009 | Registered CommenterBill Wood

Actually, you WANT to use the AC.

The Fusion Hybrid's battery pack is cooled by your cabin's air. There is a vent under the rear seat cusion which draws cabin air to cool the HV battery pack mounted in the trunk.

Remember that heat stress is the biggest enemy to the HV battery's longevity. If you want that HV battery to remain in pristine condition, it needs to be kept cool. That's why on hot days, you WANT to run the AC.

You also want to periodically inspect the vent to make sure it's not clogged up with debris. If the battery starts to overheat, the hybrid system will behave strangely and might throw codes.

September 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterQuincy

I don't think I ever let the car get hot enough to hurt the battery! If it gets over about 78 I will turn on the A/C.

September 27, 2009 | Registered CommenterBill Wood

I live in St. George UT where the summer temperatures in July have been between 100 and 110 degrees. I have noticed that my FFH mileage has dropped from about 40 mpg to 31 mpg. Also I agree with one of the authors that the air conditioning in the rear of the car is really bad. Ford should fix that in future years.

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July 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternfljerseyonline

AC units of a car sometimes crashes because the radiator can't fully complete it's function. It is best to take professional help when encountering these problems. DIY won't solve it.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterplumbing

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