The winter will be here faster than you think. Not only will that mean preparing for winter driving, it’ll also wreak havoc on your fuel economy. Testing has shown that a conventional gasoline car has around a 12% reduction in fuel efficiency for short-trip city driving in 20-degree weather compared to driving in 77-degree weather. For shorter trips it can drop as much as 22%, and, for hybrids, the drop is even steeper at around 31-34% reduction. Why does your fuel economy tank during the winter, and how do you stay fuel efficient?
Cold Temperatures Affect Fuel Efficiency
The winter weather affects your vehicle more than you might think. The friction between the engine and transmission increases due to cold engine oil and other fluids. Your engine takes longer to reach optimum temperature and generally you use more options in your car that take up more power such as heated seats, defrosters, and heater fans. Vehicle aerodynamic effects are reduced owing to the denser winter air and winter grades of gasoline have slightly less energy per gallon potential than summer blends. Your tires also waste energy on ice and snow-covered roads because they cannot grip the road as well. Finally, your car isn’t as fuel efficient driving at lower, safer speeds as it is at highway speeds.
How Can I Keep My Car as Fuel Efficient as Possible?
It may be impossible to keep your vehicle as fully efficient during the winter as it is during the warmer months, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the difference.
- Parking your car in a garage or other warmer place will increase the initial temperature of your engine and interior.
- Combine trips as much as possible to reduce the time driving with a cold engine.
- Don’t spend as much time idling your engine to warm it up. The engine warms up quicker driving than it does idling and idling your engine nets you zero miles per gallon. At a maximum, spend around 30 seconds idling before driving off.
- Use seat warmers and defrosters only as needed.
- Keep your tire pressure well-regulated.
- Use the type of oil recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer for cold weather.
- Remove any accessories on the vehicle exterior that reduce aerodynamics when not in use, such as roof racks.
Need an Oil Change or Other Car Maintenance?
Auto Stop Limited Inc. is happy to service your vehicle and make sure all of your maintenance needs are properly addressed and resolved. Contact Auto Stop Limited Inc. online or give us a call at (410) 467-7600 to get your questions answered today. To get more vehicle maintenance tips, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.