Conditions in winter put a significant strain on your car and on your driving. Winter can also put a strain on your fuel mileage. To prevent a decrease in your gas mileage you need to address some specific issues with regard to winter driving and your car. One of the two main characteristics of winter, cold temperatures, create conditions that lower your fuel economy. A car that is cold uses more fuel to start up than a warm car.
The colder the car the more fuel it uses when it starts. In cold weather, the engine of your car is harder to start. The oil in your car is thicker when it is cold and thus requires more energy to get it flowing. All the parts that are lubricated by this thicker oil require more energy to move them. More energy means that it will take more fuel to move the parts. Your engine will use more fuel to run until it warms up.
Other parts of the car are affected by the cold. The joints, transmission, bearings, brakes, and steering mechanisms all need more energy to move them in cold temperatures. This is partly because they too use fluids in their operation that thickens in the cold. Subsequently more energy is needed to operate them which also burns more gas.
Other parts of your car will be stiff and may be frozen. Moisture in the air can condense and freeze on many car parts. Water from precipitation or from the road may have frozen on to part of the car. It will take more energy to move these parts. Wheel bearings, suspension systems and wheels themselves are some of the parts effected.
The same applies, more energy needed to move these parts translates into more fuel burned and lower gas mileage. Since your engine needs to overcome some temperature issues to lubricate itself in the cold you do need to give it a little longer to idle after starting than you would in the summer. But, I have to stress this, it only needs about 30 seconds of idling, no more. That little extra idling does affect your gas mileage. You can lessen or eliminate the effects of cold on fuel economy if you take certain actions.
If you have access to a heated area to park your car, do it. If a heated area is not an option even a non heated garage is an improvement to leaving your car outside in the cold. If you can clean out your garage to make room for your car now would be the time. Always make sure you have the proper oil for operating your car in the cold. The right oil will be thinner and will flow easier in cold temperatures.
The proper oil will require less energy to start and flow and therefore will require less fuel. In extreme cold climates an engine block heater will help keep the engine and oil warm thus avoiding a complete cold start. You will need a way to plug it in and keep it plugged in until you are ready to drive.
Don't wast fuel warming your car when you start it. You only need about 30 seconds of idling to make sure the oil is flowing sufficiently in the engine. Excessive idling beyond 30 seconds will rob you of gas mileage faster than anything else. Let the car continue to warm up as you are driving. Even though winter temperatures can reduce gas mileage, you can minimize or eliminate that reduction.
Following a few simple rules can help you maintain good gas mileage even with the worst winter can throw at you.
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