Can I Sleep In My Car With The AC Running? Is It Frightening? (2023) Flawless Car Guide

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can I sleep in my car with the ac running

It’s summertime and the weather is hot. You’re driving in your car and you start to feel sleepy. You think to yourself, “Can I sleep in my car with the ac running?” The answer is yes, you can think of sleeping in a car with ac running. Although it may seem like an ideal solution, there are some things you need to consider before taking the plunge.

Even though it may seem like a good idea on a hot summer night, sleeping in your car with the air conditioner on is extremely risky. Even in mild weather, carbon monoxide and engine exhaust can build up quickly in closed vehicles, causing people to feel sleepy, have headaches, feel sick, and throw up. If left untreated, it can be lethal.

Here are a few things to consider before sleeping in the car with AC on.

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can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Can I Sleep In My Car With The AC Running? Why You Shouldn’t:

Sleeping in the car with AC on is never advisable because of the severe risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the car air conditioner. Besides being incredibly lethal, carbon monoxide also doesn’t have any flavor or smell.

If the gas is present in large quantities in confined spaces, human life is in danger. The replacement of oxygen by carbon monoxide gas causes suffocation.

This reduces oxygen in red blood cells, which is vital for tissue health. Oxygen and CO generate carboxyhemoglobin. Carboxyhemoglobin decreases cell function, affecting tissue function. This is hypoxia.

Confused, dizzy, and headache are symptoms. If the driver and passengers are aware of the risk, they can escape. Tired or hungover people may not perceive toxins. That’s why you should reconsider sleeping in a car with ac running.

One of the most common reasons for these deaths in cars is faulty air conditioning. When an air conditioner breaks down or gets old, it disrupts the air circulation system and prevents the air from being properly replaced. It results in carbon monoxide poisoning in car air conditioning.

You can use a car-specific CO detector to make sure you and your passengers are protected from the dangers of sleeping in the car with AC on.

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can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Do Long Periods In a Car with the AC ON Create Any Health Hazards?

It is possible for exhaust gases to enter the car’s interior through any of the vehicle’s openings, including the boot and the floor. This only occurs while the vehicle is parked.

Also not recommended is spending too much time in a parked car. The car can still be filled with exhaust fumes even if the windows are shut. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headaches, and confusion.

Ignoring it can lead to oxygen deprivation, which is bad for your organs. As technology improves, fewer drivers will experience the signs of oxidative damage.

In the United States, it is against the law to drive a car without a properly working ventilation system. If you want to keep the cabin free of dangerous gases, you can’t turn these off.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

What To Do When You Have No Option Left:

The following are a few things you may take to keep yourself safe if you have no other option than sleeping in a car with AC on:

  • Even if you drive an electric vehicle, which emits no carbon monoxide, it is still preferable to keep your windows open.
  • You might want to consider sleeping at night in parking garages or other spaces with ventilation or airflow.
  • Don’t risk your safety by leaving your car windows open wider than a slither when you’re resting inside. It’s a good idea to keep your windows up because they make it easy for thieves to break into your car.
  • Make sure you find a legal and safe spot to park. Stopping in a rest area, parking lot, or the side of the road is never a good idea. Inquire about the customs and regulations of the area to determine if you can park your vehicle for the night.
  • Send a text message with your number to someone you trust, and tell them you plan to spend the night in the car so they can prepare for your possible absence.
  • In the event of an emergency, you should always have a phone and gas in your car. In the event of an emergency, dial 911 and wait outside.
  • If you can, try to sleep with all of the windows slightly open. Because of this, CO will be able to leave the cabin more efficiently, resulting in better ventilation.
  • Instead of a bulky coat or hoodie, try sleeping in a loose-fitting T-shirt.

Finally, make sure other drivers can see that you’re taking a break by putting up a sign.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Can Running AC Damage The Car Battery and Engine?

People often ask if sleeping in a car with the a/c running affects the car battery or the engine. To be very precise, YES it does.

Effects on Car Battery:

While it’s probably fine to sleep in a car for a short time, prolonged use of the air conditioner while the car is parked could kill the battery.

The alternator in your car only recharges the battery while the vehicle is in motion; if you leave it parked all day with the air conditioner on, the battery will die. But using the air conditioner once in a while while the car is parked shouldn’t hurt the battery.

Effects on Car Engine:

The engine has to work harder to power the air conditioner. This is because the engine is being used to power the air conditioner’s compressor. Since the engine has to work harder, it may overheat. The combination of the fan and the airflow helps to reduce the temperature.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

What To Do?

You should leave your windows open and invest in an electric fan that can run all night without draining the car’s motor or battery.

Don’t just decide at the end of the day to sleep in your car without first thinking about other options, including sleeping in a hotel or finding a different place to sleep.

A room will not only provide superior sleep quality, but it will also eliminate or considerably reduce the risk of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning from sleeping in a car with the air conditioner on.

Furthermore, there’s the potential for damage to your vehicle from resting in it with the air conditioning on, which might lead to expensive repairs.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Some cities in the United States have laws forbidding sleeping in a vehicle, but this varies from place to place. The rule is not without its exceptions. Some states, including Florida and Virginia, have strict regulations against sleeping in vehicles.

In cities like Palo Alto, where there aren’t enough facilities to accommodate individuals, it’s illegal to sleep in a car overnight. If you are planning to do so, keep in mind a fine of $1000 or up to 6 months in prison.

Avoid losing hope because of these illegalities. Only stop at designated rest areas to avoid them. Stay within the parking lot’s specified hours, and don’t sleep anywhere that hasn’t been authorized by law enforcement.

Plan your trip so that you may park overnight at a Walmart. However, not all major stores are on board with this. Many stores have banned overnight car parking due to increased liability.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Ideal Places To Park For Sleeping In a Car With AC Running:

The Walmart stores provide some of the most comfortable parking areas to rest your head. Walmart provides secure overnight parking that is well-lit, protecting your security while you shop. Because the shops are often open 24 hours a day, you will be able to use their facilities at any time of day or night.

One of the best places to take a break from driving is at one of the many rest stops along the highway. Because they are accessible around the clock, seven days a week, rest areas are often used as overnight accommodations.

Casinos are not only convenient places to gamble, but also to park and stay the night because of their 24-hour availability and stringent security measures. If there is a problem, security will be able to see it sooner.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Keep Car Warmer For Sleeping During Winters:


When the temperature outside drops, a catalytic heater could be the answer to keeping your automobile cozy inside. These heaters use unique catalysts to produce heat, so they’re relatively affordable and efficient.

Some models have things like an LCD panel that shows the temperature inside to make sure you have a comfortable ride. Nevertheless, using them while you sleep is not suggested. If you want to sleep comfortably in the car at night, you should turn the heater off after using it to warm the interior.

An electric blanket for your car is a great way to stay warm on those chilly winter mornings. They run on batteries and may be charged in vehicles. In cold weather, electric blankets can be used outdoors if you have a power source.

If you use these inventions you don’t have to ask “Is it bad to sleep with the AC on”. These safeguard you against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in the car air conditioner.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Keep Car Interior Cool:

During hot summer times, the car interior can reach higher temperatures, increasing the temptation to turn on the AC. However, the following ways can be adopted to keep them safe from carbon monoxide poisoning in the car air conditioner while keeping the interior cool:

  • Sunshades and window reflectors can block the sun from your windshield and dashboard. These goods can cool your car’s interior.
  • When sleeping in the car, roll down the windows to keep it cool. This allows heated air to escape and cool breezes to enter.  This may not be the best option, especially if your vehicle is parked in direct sunlight. Find shaded parking and trees.
  • Another approach is to use portable fans to cool the automobile. It will keep you cool and reduce air conditioner use. Portable fans are lightweight and easy to handle. 
  • Cool your seat with a cooling cushion. Research some cushions before buying one. Some versions have several cooling settings to suit your needs.

These are the best options because they protect against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in car air conditioners.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

If I Sleep In My Car, Will I be Unable To Breathe?

Typically, cars have an enormous interior space that’s why it takes a very long time before running out of oxygen. Although having a window open will help ventilation, it is not necessary.

Sitting In The Car With AC Running: Is It Bad?

If there are no air or exhaust leaks, then it is fine to wait in a car with the air conditioner on. Carbon monoxide can be lethal if it leaks into the car’s interior and contaminates the air there.

It has already been described in this article that, while it is feasible to leave the air conditioning running while the automobile is stopped, doing so can be hazardous to your health and can ruin your vehicle.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

What to Do to Stay Safe:

Keeping your vehicle in good functioning order is the best method to protect yourself and other drivers on the road. Take your automobile in for regular maintenance at least once a month and preferably once a year.

Before setting out on a lengthy trip, it’s a good idea to check if the air conditioner has any potential problems, such as a clogged or broken filter. Get out of the car every so often to stretch your legs and avoid suffocating.

To get the most out of the air conditioning when sleeping in a parked car, crack the windows open a crack or two. If you can help it, try to avoid dozing off behind the wheel.

can I sleep in my car with the ac running

Car vs Tent; Which Is Warmer?

Comparing cars and tents in terms of warmth is a common misunderstanding. They are incomparable to one another, in my opinion.

Camping tents have always provided a more comfortable shelter than automobiles. The reason for this is that tents are designed to keep heat inside better than cars. The fabric was created with the intention of insulating heat from the cold weather. However, this is not always the case when driving a car.

Tents are always more comfortable and warmer than sleeping in a car, so if you’re planning to spend the night in your vehicle, you should look into renting or buying one.


Can I sleep in my car with the ac running? Keep in mind that sleeping in the car with AC is a viable option for some people. It can be a comfortable and affordable way to get a good night’s sleep. However, it can be hazardous owing to the possibility of CO poisoning.

Several cities have also made it illegal to sleep in a car in order to reduce the number of homeless people congregating in a specific area. Staying at a hotel or motel is much more secure than sleeping in your car.

With the air conditioning running, you could be putting yourself and your vehicle at risk. We hope you learned something new and are now well-prepared to sleep well in your car after reading this post. Thanks!