Cold weather and winter driving conditions can reduce your fuel economy significantly.
Tests have shown that in short-trip city driving, a gasoline-fueled car’s gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20℉ than it would be at 80℉. For even lower trips it can drop up to 22%.
The effect on hybrid vehicles is even worse. Their fuel economy can drop about 31% to 34% under these conditions.
So, now the question to answer is “How to save on gas during the winter season.” If you’re not sure about certain things check out your owner’s manual or visit your local car dealer for more information.
How Does Winter Play a Role In Gas Usage
Cold weather affects your vehicle in more ways than you might expect:
- Engine and transmission friction increases in cold temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids.
- It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This affects shorter trips more since your car spends more of your trip at less-than-optimal temperatures.
- Warming up your vehicle before you start your trip lowers your fuel economy
- Winter grades of gasoline can have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends.
- Battery performance decreases in cold weather, making it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged.
- Safe driving speeds on slick roads can be much lower than normal, further reducing fuel economy, especially at speeds below 30 to 40 mph.
- Using four-wheel drive uses more fuel.
How to Save Gas During the Winter Season
You may not be able to completely alleviate the cold weather’s effect on your gas usage, but you can do some simple things to help your gas mileage get a bit further:
- Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin.
- Combine trips when possible so that you drive less often with a cold engine.
- Minimize idling your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs, and reduce emissions.
- Don’t use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary.
- Check your tire pressure regularly.
- Use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving.
- Remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use.
Following these steps can help keep more fuel in your car and more money in your wallet.