Fuel Economy Drops in the Winter
Here’s How You can Improve It
Do you keep track of how many MPG’s you get when you drive? Most people have a general idea, while some will keep meticulous notes in their glove box. If you’re one that always makes sure to keep track of mileage, you probably notice that as the temperature decreases, so does your fuel economy.
What gives? Fueleconomy.gov says that your mileage is about 12% less when it’s 20 degrees out versus when it’s 77 degrees out (even worse if you have a hybrid; dropping by more than 30%). So why is it that much worse, and is there anything that you can do about it?
Our crackpot team of researchers here at Big Sky Collision Center have tracked down the culprit, and developed a plan.
Why is Your Vehicle Less Efficient in the Winter?
There are quite a few ways that the cold can affect your vehicle.
- More friction as fluids get colder and move slower.
- Cold engines take longer to reach ideal temperature.
- Heaters, defrosters, heated seats, and the like suck up energy (not as bad as the AC though).
- Idling to let your vehicle warm up.
- Low tire pressure due to the cold.
- Gasoline has a different blend in the winter.
- Battery may be wearing out.
- Snow creates resistance while driving through it.
- Ice causes you to spin and get fewer miles per gallon.
- Cold air is denser creating more drag on your vehicle.
- Driving slower to be safe may be lower than efficient speeds.
- Putting it into four-wheel drive means more fuel used.
Your vehicle is optimized for warmer weather than we get here in Montana during the winter. That doesn’t mean that driving in the cold is bad for it, but it just takes a little more energy to do so!
What Can You do to Combat Lower MPG’s?
With all of the factors working against your fuel economy, what can you do about it? There are a few ways that you can help to maximize your MPG’s and still have a safe and comfortable ride.
- Keep it warm: park in a warm garage if possible.
- Make fewer cold start trips, combining errands as much as possible.
- Don’t let it idle for too long. A little idling won’t hurt, but it really only takes about 30 seconds to get the engine temperature up.
- Keep the seat warmer turned off; only use the AC to help defrost if necessary.
- Make sure your tires are inflated.
- Make sure you have the right oil in the vehicle.
- Take the roof racks off if not in use.
- Avoid driving in the deeper snow.
- Bundle up and walk if it’s a short little trip!
No matter how you look at it, you aren’t going to get as good of gas mileage in the winter as you will in the warmer weather. Taking a few extra precautions means that you can minimize the loss though!
Big Sky Collision Center Fixes Vehicles
If you hit a patch of ice and crashed, give us a call! We will restore your vehicle to full factory safety standards, and get you back on the road as soon as possible. Contact our offices at 406-259-6328.