Does Winter Driving Affect Your Fuel EconomyJan 22nd, 2021
Cold weather and winter driving conditions can greatly reduce your fuel economy. Fuel economy statistics from nrcan.gc.ca state that a drop in temperature from 24°C to 7°C can increase fuel consumption in urban commutes from 12-28%.
Why is winter fuel economy lower?
There are several different factors that may decrease the fuel economy of your vehicle. Engine and transmission friction increases in colder temperatures due to the engine being cold. It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature, so this affects shorter trips since your vehicle spends more time at non-optimal temperatures. Another factor that can affect fuel economy are things like heated seats, window defrosters, and heating your cabin, as these features use additional power. Colder air is also denser than warm air. This increases drag on your vehicle, especially at highway speeds, overall affecting fuel economy. In severe winter weather, your fuel economy can decrease even further. Ice and snow decreases your tires grip on the road surfaces, wasting energy. If your vehicle is 4WD, this also will use more fuel in the long haul.
What can I do to improve my fuel economy during the winter?
Although you won’t be able to completely combat the effects of winter weather on your fuel economy, there are a few things you can do to help mitigate some of them.
- Park your vehicle in a warmer place if possible, such as a garage or undercover. This will keep your car at warmer initial temperatures, reducing time to get to optimal temperatures.
- Don’t use seat warmers or defrosters more than absolutely necessary. Using an ice scraper can help with reducing use of defrosters.
- Check your tire pressure regularly. Colder air will deflate your tires, ultimately reducing fuel economy. If you keep your tires inflated, this will definitely help with fuel economy.
- Use the type of oil recommended for cold weather driving. Cold weather will increase the viscosity of your engine's oil, so using less viscous oil will help balance out the effects of cold weather on your engine oil.