In the winter, your car's fuel efficiency can be adversely affected due to the lower temperatures. This is because of a number of reasons, the least of which are that the fluids in your engine are denser and it takes longer for your engine to get to its optimal operating temperature. Thankfully, there are a few car maintenance tips to follow in order to improve cold weather fuel efficiency.
Improving Winter Fuel Efficiency
- Check your Tire Pressure: Cold air is denser than hot air, which means that the air in your tires will become compressed. This means that your tires can become under-inflated during the winter months, increasing the amount of your tires' surface area that is touching the ground. When this happens, more drag is exerted on your car, which will ruin your fuel efficiency. Check your tire pressure using an air pressure gauge, available at most gas stations and automotive stores, and fill your tires if necessary.
- Stop Idling: Don't idle your car in the morning to warm it up. Doing so will simply waste gas, as you are not moving anywhere. If you need to defrost your car before you start moving, be sure to idle the car for as little as possible, as driving will heat up your car faster without wasting your fuel.
- Park Indoors: Parking your car in a garage or at least in an area where it will receive some protection from the lower temperatures can prevent your battery and engine from getting too cold, making it easier to start in the morning, reducing the need to idle. Additionally, having your engine warmer when you start driving will mean it will function more efficiently. If you can't park inside, at least park in the sun, as this will keep your car warmer than it would be if it was in the shade.
- Remove Accessories: Certain accessories, like bike and roof racks, are designed for summer activities. However, in the winter, they can provide a space for snow and ice to collect, increasing the weight of your vehicle and also increasing the amount of drag that your car experiences while driving. Removing such accessories can drastically improve your fuel efficiency.
- Combine Trips: Avoid turning your car off when you don't need to. Link together multiple short trips into a single long one, so that your engine is running at a warm temperature for the longest period of time. This will prevent the inefficient functioning of your engine, and give you better fuel efficiency.