A car is not only a means of transport, but also you can take a nap inside, especially after those long drives or a busy afternoon.
Before taking a nap in your car, the question that will run through your mind is, can I sleep in my car with the AC running?
Especially on those hot days, all you want is to run your Ac on full blast and get some rest.
Well, to answer your question, I would say yes! You can sleep in your car with the AC running for hours. However, it is not advisable to sleep in your car with the AC running because of your safety.
This discussion will learn why it is not advisable to sleep in your car with the AC running.
Why It Is Dangerous To Sleep In Your Car with the AC Running
I highly discourage sleeping in your car with the AC running for safety reasons. According to research, sleeping in your car with the AC running can be fatal (Source )
Sleeping in your car with the AC running is dangerous due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea, and confusion.
Carbon monoxide lacks color and smoke, so you will not realize it is in your vehicle unless you have a special kit for testing it.
Therefore, if vehicles are left in an enclosed space idling for long, CO builds up. So, in case you are intoxicated or sleeping in your car, carbon monoxide will block oxygen from moving to vital body parts.
Failure of oxygen to get to the vital parts will lead to dangers like brain damage or death.
In this regard, use a carbon monoxide detector for cars to detect any CO and ensure your safety.
What to Do If You Have To Sleep In Your Car with the AC Running?
Sometimes it is not about comfort; sleeping in your car with the AC running can be the only option.
If this is your case, here are tips to improve your safety;
- An electric car is good for you since they do not emit any carbon monoxide. Before you sleep in the car, ensure you open the windows.
- Sleep in spaces with good airflow and ventilation.
- Ensure your car is on full tank gas and carry your phone always. In case of any emergencies, stand outside your car and call 911.
- Do not sleepwear jackets; rather, sleep in a short-sleeved shirt.
- Ensure your car temperature is approximately 75 degrees but not anywhere below.
- Crack your windows open a little to allow optimum airflow and ensure no Carbon monoxide.
- You should ensure that the exhaust system is working properly.
- Get a sign to make other drivers understand you are sleeping. For instance, you can make a sign on your dashboard or rearview mirror. In this regard, “napping for safety” can be a great sign idea.
Can I leave My Car Running While I Sleep In It Overnight?
Besides the risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning, sleeping in your car overnight with the car running also has other risks involved.
You can get into a sleep-related accident. A sleep-related accident happens when you get into an auto accident because you drive while asleep.
It might not be something to cause an alarm if you slept for only 15-20 minutes and you woke after bumping into something. However, it can be very dangerous if you sleep for more than five hours.
Therefore, sleeping in an affordable hotel room is safer than in your vehicle.
Can Leaving Your AC Running Damage Your Car’s Battery and Engine?
Yes, leaving your car’s AC running for hours while idle will likely risk damaging the battery and your engine.
However, it will depend on the period you let the AC run when you are sleeping.
Also, the engine will overheat when left running for a longer time without motion and damage the radiator. When your vehicle is in motion, the fans act as coolants. At the same time, when your vehicle is in motion, the air entering from outside helps to cool the engine. That means, if the car is in a closed space like a garage, it is more exposed to the risk of overheating.
Therefore, if you can sleep in your car with the AC running, it is a yes, you can! However, ensure that the exhaust system is complete and without leakages. Also, make sure the tailpipes blow the exhaust system properly.
It is important to note that you should not run the AC in a closed place even if you have your doors open. You will be risking your life because the exhaust fumes can easily kill you.
If you lack an option to sleep in your car overnight, it would be best to sleep without running the AC. It will not only damage your car’s battery and engine, but carbon monoxide poisoning is life-threatening.
Instead of running the AC, use an electric fan to run overnight as it will not damage your car and crack your windows open slightly to get fresh air from outside.
However, I highly recommend if you can afford a hotel room or another place to sleep, however cheap it is. It will not only give you comfort, but also it will make you avoid all the risks involved in sleeping in your car with the AC running.
You will not be exposing your life to health issues like brain damage and even death, and you will also avoid the expenses of fixing the car if it gets damaged by the AC while you are sleeping.
Final Thought on Can I Sleep In My Car with the AC Running
If your concern is if you can sleep in your car with the AC running, then definitely it is a yes. However, it is highly discouraged because of the risks it poses.
I’m sure you will not want to put your life or health in danger simply because you want to save the extra dollar instead of getting a hotel room.
It would be best if you paid for a cheaper room, rather than sleeping in your car with the AC running. It will risk your health like CO causing brain damage, death, and even more costs in running AC damage your battery or engine.
My point is, it is way cheaper to sleep in a hotel room.
However, if sleeping in your car is the only option, ensure you turn the battery off and open the windows for fresh air and ventilation.
Hi I’m Marshall based in 1478 Doctors Drive Santa Monica, CA. I’m your DIY Car Repairman with more than 5 years experience in automobile repair, a skill I learned from my old man.
I started this blog to share my experience on both simple and technical aspects of your car.