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Numerous individuals believe that sleeping with the car air conditioner on is safe, similar to sleeping indoors. The article below reveals the truth.

During the summer, when faced with a power outage at home or feeling exhausted after a long trip, people often opt to switch on the car’s air conditioner and sleep inside. However, it is important to recognize that a car is a confined space. While taking a short nap due to fatigue is generally harmless, sleeping in a car with the air conditioner running for extended periods or throughout the night can be extremely hazardous.

Illustration of sleeping in the car with the air conditioner on.  (Photo: Aircon-Servicing).
Illustration of sleeping in the car with the air conditioner on. (Photo: Aircon-Servicing).

What are the risks of sleeping in a car with the air conditioning on for hours?

The car’s air conditioning system has two air intake modes, namely inside air and outside air, during the cooling process. When using the inside air intake mode, only the air within the cockpit is circulated, resulting in faster cooling. On the other hand, the outside air intake mode brings in fresh outdoor air rich in oxygen, but cools it at a slower pace.

Hence, if the car remains in air intake mode for an extended period, it can lead to a lack of oxygen within the car and potential suffocation. In such instances, it is important to either open the window or switch to outside air mode.

In the majority of newer car models, the air conditioning system will automatically switch to drawing in outside air, even if the internal air mode is activated, after a specific duration. This is done to enhance the oxygen levels inside the car.

Nonetheless, as the car remains stationary, the surrounding air will accumulate a significant amount of carbon monoxide (CO) gas, primarily emitted from the exhaust pipe. Individuals who are asleep inside the vehicle and inhale this CO gas may experience loss of consciousness or, in severe cases, fatal consequences.

Furthermore, if the car remains idle with the air conditioner running for an extended period, there is a chance of running out of fuel or experiencing a malfunction in the forced cooling system. This can result in the engine easily overheating, which in turn can cause the air conditioner to stop functioning. In such a scenario, the oxygen levels inside the car will gradually deplete, potentially leading to loss of consciousness and even fatality for the occupant.

What important factors should be considered while sleeping in a car?

  • Park the car in a well-ventilated and shady place.
  • In the summer, if you sleep in a car with the air conditioner on, open the window about 1.5-2.5cm slightly to get more oxygen.
  • Set the alarm for 15-30-45-60 minutes in a row so you don’t fall asleep in the car for too long, and avoid accidentally turning it off to sleep again when you’re too tired or sleepy.