Can I sleep in car with AC on? It’s dangerous. Here’s why

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If one time, you’ve asked yourself, can I sleep in car with AC on? The short answer is YES. However, for your own safety, we HIGHLY DISCOURAGE IT.

In the summer, it can be too hot to sleep in a car. Do you have any other options? One option would be sleeping inside your car with the AC on full blast. 

However, this is not always practical and there are some important considerations to make before doing so.

Why its dangerous

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A Houston woman and a girl, 8, are dead as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running in a garage to help generate heat in a Houston, Texas home on Tuesday, February 16, according to KidsAndCars.org.

Sleeping in a car with the AC running is dangerous because of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide (CO) seeps into the cabin through vents, cracks in the windows, and even the car’s engine.

It has no smell or color, so you won’t be able to tell that CO is in your car- unless you have a special device to test for it. Burning fossil fuel like gasoline or diesel creates a colorless, known as CO.

If cars are left idling in an enclosed space with little to no ventilation for long periods, carbon monoxide can build up and kill you.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated.

Events like this could lead to irreversible brain damage or death if it’s not caught soon enough.

Using CO Detector

To ensure your vehicle is safe from carbon monoxide, you can use a CO detector specifically designed for cars.

What are the risks of sleeping in a car with the AC running for long periods?

KVUE

Any holes in the vehicle body, such as in the trunk or floorboard, can allow exhaust fumes to enter the passenger compartment. This presents a risk only when the car is not moving.

Is it safe to sleep in a running car with the air conditioner on?

It’s not a good idea to sit in an idle car for too long. The exhaust fumes can enter the car with the windows rolled up.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headache, and confusion.

If ignored, it can be fatal because it prevents oxygen from getting to vital organs of the body.

With newer cars, it is becoming increasingly rare for drivers to experience the side effects of oxidative damage. 

The laws in America require that cars have fully-working ventilation systems. These can’t be completely shut off – there’s always outside air being pressured into the cabin so that harmful pollutants are kept out.

The air intake for the car is typically found at the base of the windshield. This prevents accidents that were popular decades ago, where inhaling carbon monoxide would have been a problem.

However, you don’t want to risk it. Open the windows and put on the air conditioning unit to keep yourself from suffocating.

What to do if you have no other option but to sleep in your car

When you have to sleep in the car with AC on, here are some things you can do to make things safer for yourself:

-Electric vehicles typically have zero carbon monoxide emissions. If you happen to have an electric vehicle, then leave your windows open.

-Consider sleeping in a parking garage or spaces with ventilation or airflow

-Make sure the car is running on a full tank of gas and you have a cell phone with you at all times. If anything happens, call 911 and stand outside.

-Sleep in a short-sleeved shirt, preferably with no jacket or sweatshirt on. 

-Set the temperature at around 75 degrees (Fahrenheit) and not lower than that

-If possible, sleep with all windows cracked open slightly. It will promote optimal airflow and CO will be able to exit the cabin more quickly. 

-Make sure the exhaust system is in proper working order.

-Finally, make a sign that drivers can see to let them know you are taking a short nap.

A sign in your rearview mirror or on the dashboard explaining. For instance, that you are “napping for driving safety” should do the trick.

Is it legal to sleep in your car?

It depends on where you live, but in most US cities, it is illegal to sleep in your car.

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However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, Florida and Virginia have rules for sleeping in your car that vary by state.

Many cities make it illegal for you to sleep in your car to deter homeless people from loitering in certain areas. Sleeping in your car is illegal even in big cities that are progressive.

In Palo Alto, where rent is high and there aren’t a lot of homeless shelters available to accommodate all the people who need them, it’s also illegal to sleep in your car. They made sleeping in “one’s own private vehicle a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail”.

Other cities make it illegal to sleep in your car when there are no services for the homeless within a distance, but that doesn’t stop homeless folks from doing so.

Although sleeping in a car is illegal in most places, it can be avoided if the driver goes to designated rest stops and avoids restricted parking areas as well as private property.

To adhere to the law, always observe the designated times of parking zones and sleep only in approved places.

Walmart used to be a haven for RV parking, but more stores won’t allow it anymore because it increases the liability.

The best thing to do is check with your city to find out what laws you’ll be violating on where it’s illegal to sleep in a car, then don’t do that.

It’s as easy as that.

Can i leave my car running while i sleep in it overnight

Sleeping in your car overnight can cause other problems as well besides death from carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you sleep in your car, you are not only putting yourself at risk of being over-cooled from the AC, but you risk getting a sleep-related accident as well. 

A sleep-related accident is when people sleep while driving and then get involved in an auto accident with injuries or death.

You might think it’s no big deal if your sleep for 15-20 minutes and then wake up because your body moved and bumped into something. 

However, what happens if you are sleeping for 5 hours straight before waking up? This could be dangerous!

It is much safer to sleep in a hotel room or motel than it is to sleep in your car. 

If you have enough money in your pocket, sleep in a hotel room. This is because you have enough money to pay for it and sleep safely.

Can Leaving Your AC Running Damage Your Car Battery and Engine?

Leaving the AC running while you are in a parking lot will cause your battery to lose power slowly over time.

After leaving the AC on for an extended period. It can even drain a fully charged car battery to its point of failure.

The engine can also overheat and damage its components if you leave the AC on for too long. 

Please don’t sleep in your car with the AC running! You could be putting yourself in danger and damaging or ruining your car at the same time!

Conclusion

Is it safe to sleep in a running car with the air conditioner on?

Sleeping in your car with the AC on can be dangerous due to the risk of CO poisoning.

If you sleep for 15-20 minutes and then wake up because your body moved and bumped into something. What happens if you sleep for 5 hours straight before waking up?

Moreover, many cities make it illegal for you to sleep in your car to deter homeless people from loitering in a certain area. It is much safer to sleep in a hotel room or motel than it is to sleep in your car. 

If you sleep in your car, you could be putting yourself and your car at risk. Read more informative car guides here.

Related: AC Not Blowing Cold Air in Car

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