Is a Car’s Gas Mileage Worse in the Winter?
Winter brings with it many challenges for drivers. Cold temperatures, the possibility for snow and ice, and earlier nights all combine to make it a rough time to be out on the roads. We may not see the worst that winter has to offer here in Knoxville, but a winter chill can definitely make for some cold months around the turn of the year.
One thing you might have noticed as temperatures dip into the 30s or 20s is that your car doesn’t seem to perform quite as well during the warmer months when temperatures hover around a pleasant 70 degrees. Specifically, many drivers begin to feel that their car’s fuel economy is not living up to the usual expectations when faced with cold temperatures.
Why Cold Temperatures Affect Fuel Economy
There are several factors at play here. Some you might be aware of and others may be news to you. The one many drivers know about is tire pressure. When temperatures get colder, a vehicle’s tire pressure reduces, and that can lead to worse fuel economy.
The vehicle’s power sources themselves start to operate less efficiently as well. The engine will take more time to reach its “preferred’ operating temperature, while the use of heat and heated seats all work to sap more energy from the vehicle. If you can keep your vehicle warmer overnight, this definitely helps, but those who park their car outside will run into this decreased gas mileage.
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What you won’t be able to change is the aerodynamic drag experienced in the winter, caused by cold air being denser than warm air. But, at least for us here in Knoxville, winter is short. To learn more about anything and everything automotive, check back to the Jim Cogdill blog.