725 S Garfield Ave
Traverse City Mi 49686
Garfield Auto Service Center
725 S Garfield Ave
Traverse City Mi 49686
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Winter's Toll: How Cold Weather Affects Your Fuel Efficiency

January 13, 2020, 12:00 am

There are a number of factors that make cold-weather driving particularly inefficient. When the thermometer dips below freezing, physics starts to play an interesting, and costly, toll on your engine! Manufacturers estimate that fuel efficiency decreases by an average of 12%; here are a few reasons why. 

First, your engine burns gasoline at a particular temperature. The faster it reaches that temperature, the better, but with cold weather, it can take much more time to reach the right amount of heat. If you’re taking short trips, your engine probably never reaches the optimal temperature, which means those two-to-six mile jaunts add up a lot faster on your wallet. 

Even the gasoline in your tank is less efficient. Most gasoline companies use a slightly different formula that includes chemicals that hold up better in the cold. Unfortunately, these compounds cause fuel to burn less efficiently. 

It might be a hard pill to swallow, but even the air is against you. Cold air can cause your tire pressure to lower; low tire pressure increases the amount of drag on the road. That added rolling resistance quickly lowers your fuel economy. Once cold weather arrives in your next of the woods, make a point of stopping by a gas station or local service station to make sure your tires are properly inflated to the recommended levels. 

The air on the outside plays a role, too. Cold air is physically denser. That’s right, it is physically harder for your car to move in winter! 

Finally, there are a lot of myths around letting your car warm up. Frankly, you do not need to let your car’s engine heat up. Most manufacturers recommend letting your car idle for no more than thirty seconds; the goal is to heat up, and that will happen much faster when you’re actually driving. No matter what your dad says, you don’t need to ‘let it run’ before taking off to work in the morning. 

Inside, creature comforts like defrosters and heated seats can draw a surprising amount of power from your engine, which also decreases fuel efficiency. Whenever possible, turn off your heated seats, and once your mirrors and windows are clear, put your defrosters on low or turn them off entirely as long as it's safe. 

Winter can take its toll, but knowing how to make the most of your fuel economy can lessen the season’s impact at the pump.


Posted by Garfield Auto at 12:00 am
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