Why winter weather cuts into your fuel economy and a helpful solution

If you live in a state that experiences colder temperatures, you know that winter weather reduces your fuel economy. With prices as they are at the pump, you don’t want to spend too much on filling up if you can help it. How exactly does winter affect your vehicle and what can you do about it?

How winter weather affects car components

Car driving in the snow | Pascal Pochard – Casabianca via Getty Images

Winter is harsh for vehicles. You can get stuck in deep snow, lose control of your vehicle on slippery roads, and ruin your car’s undercarriage from salt highway crews lying on the road to melt snow and ice .

Cold temperatures also take their toll. Your car’s electronics aren’t working as efficiently as they did when it was warmer. It can also strain your car battery, sometimes leaving you stranded with nothing to power the vehicle.

Why winter weather is cutting your fuel economy

According to AAA, there are several reasons why winter reduces your fuel economy. First, winter regions see more four-wheel-drive vehicles on the road, which consume more fuel than front-wheel-drive cars.

Then some people keep their vehicle running while they rush inside a store to get some groceries. The goal is to keep it warm for them when they return, but all they do is waste gas.

If you’re driving on slippery roads with snow and ice, you know you have to go slower than usual. By going slower, you use more gas due to the energy it consumes. Also, the colder outside air is a little denser, which causes more resistance when a moving vehicle hits it.

Although it is difficult to overcome some of these problems, there is a way that can help you eliminate the loss of energy efficiency in winter. Store your vehicle in a garage if possible. This keeps the car and its engine from getting too cold, so when you start you’re not wasting fuel by warming them up before taking off.

Other tips for winter driving

Cold air affects your tire pressure. Every 10 degrees the temperature drops and you lose half a pound of air. Using a tire pressure gauge, check the vehicle’s tires often and add air according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Otherwise, they will wear out faster and you will spend money replacing them unnecessarily.

When refueling at a gas station, fill the tank completely. The less space you leave in the tank, the less ambient air or water vapor has to enter and contaminate the fuel. Water that enters the fuel line can freeze, causing problems with your engine. If you suspect some may have gotten into your gas, use a fuel antifreeze product.

Engine oil tends to thicken in the winter, which can make it difficult to circulate properly through the engine. By using oil designed explicitly for colder temperatures, you don’t have to worry as much because this lubricant has a lower viscosity, which keeps it fluid. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual usually recommends a specific type to use for that engine.

You might find yourself stopping at the gas station more often during the winter, which could get expensive, especially with fuel prices as they are. But you can save money by keeping your vehicle in a garage if possible. Also keep an eye on your tire air pressure. You can save some fuel by keeping them properly inflated.

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