Cold Weather and Fuel Economy
If you’ve stopped at the gas station more than usual this winter-you’re not alone. Our friends at the Department of Energy have an explanation for that-and a few tips as well.
Obvious culprits like letting your car idle until it warms up, and driving around with low tire pressure result in wasted gas. But some unavoidable conditions also occur-like the higher density of cold air decreasing aerodynamics and thus fuel economy, or the less-efficient winter gasoline blends.
All weather traction systems like 4- and All-Wheel drive also use extra fuel, and even driving at lower speeds, to avoid accidents, is not optimal for fuel efficiency. Hybrid and electric vehicles see additional losses- due to lower battery efficiency at colder temperatures, especially if the car is not parked in a garage overnight.
A few simple fixes include maintaining adequate tire pressure, avoiding undo idling at start up, and even on those cold winter mornings-using seat warmers and heater fans less frequently. Also, check your car owner’s manual to see if a different engine oil weight is recommended for smoother operation in colder temperatures.
Stretching drive distances can actually increase efficiency, too. Try to string together several trips or errands, rather than run them individually.
Luckily, there are a few ways to cut the extra cost of winter driving. But even better--Spring will be here before you know it. For more tips, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s website. And that’s it for this week’s MotorNews.