Gridlock Guy: A working car AC is an Atlanta summer necessity

Gridlock updatesMark Arum’s column appears Mondays. Listen to his traffic reports daily on News 95.5 and AM750 WSB, and see him each morning on Channel 2 Action News. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markarum.

When I first moved to Atlanta in the summer of 1996, my cousin Michael who had lived here for years, gave me two pieces of priceless advice:

First, always get my hash browns scattered, covered and smothered at Waffle House and second, make sure my car’s air conditioning is in good working order.

It turns out my cousin was wise beyond his years as both nuggets have proved invaluable while I have live here.

To me, air conditioning in a vehicle in Georgia is a necessity, especially during the dog days of summer. In fact, in my new car I even opted for air conditioned seats to make my summer driving more comfortable.

I assumed everyone in Atlanta needed AC in their vehicles. I was wrong.

“I have AC but don’t use it to save on fuel, Chuck Knighton from McDonough said.” It’s a full-size pickup. I need all the help I can get to help on fuel cost with a long commute.”

Believe it or not, a lot of Knighton’s fellow commuters do the same thing. I heard from a lot of people who, as a cost-saving measure, forgo air conditioning in their vehicles. The truth is though, while running the AC during stop and go traffic does increase fuel consumption, it saves money when driving highway speeds compared to driving with the windows down.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, open windows while driving at highway speeds decreases your vehicles aerodynamic drag, causing your engine to work harder, expending more fuel than the air conditioner does.

During Atlanta summers, highway speeds or not, I rely heavily on the comfort of air conditioning.

I am certainly not alone.

“I’m addicted to AC, it is a ‘must have’ option,” Kevin Young from Athens said.

“If I didn’t have A/C in my car, I might literally melt here,” Alyssa Windley of Buford said.

“I wouldn’t work in Atlanta without AC. I tolerate the heat when I camp, but not when I work,” said Lawrence Fleming of East Cobb

“Car has a/c, can’t imagine life without it. Went without it for a summer in my old car, it was awful,” said Jennifer Chancey of Powder Springs

For some, cost of air conditioning repair is what keeps them from keeping cool.

“My car has air conditioning but it doesn’t work,” said Jeff Jones of Jefferson. “Too costly to fix so I go windows down.”

For those that don’t have vehicles with working air conditioning, they have taken additional steps to cool down.

“Second year without air conditioning as its way out of my budget for repair,” said Tami Chappell of Atlanta. “Extra clothes, lots of water and wipes and fans help, barely.”

As for me, I’ll keep on cranking the AC, and enjoying my hash browns scattered, smothered and covered.