Winter and cold weather can really bring you down. Not only does it get dark earlier and become too cold out to do much, but your vehicle’s fuel economy just gets worse and worse. There are a lot of reasons why your fuel economy suffers in the winter, by some estimates fuel economy goes down by 15% when the temperature is below 20 degrees. We’ll go over the main culprits and what you can do to salvage some fuel economy back.
Why Is My Gas Mileage Worse In The Winter?
There are a number of reasons your vehicle gets fewer miles to the gallon during colder months. The following are all reasons your fuel efficiency falls during the winter:
- Increased friction in the engine & transmission during colder temperatures
- Longer periods of time spent idling to warm the engine
- Tire pressure decreases in colder weather
- Increased use of electronics such as heated seats, windshield defroster, and heater fans
- Less efficient fuel blends
- Cold air causes more aerodynamic drag
Engine Friction & Vehicle Idling
One reason your fuel economy suffers is because of increased friction within the engine and transmission during cooler temperatures. It takes longer for your car to reach the optimal temperature for fuel efficacy, and idling your vehicle to warm it up doesn’t help with overall fuel economy either. When idling your vehicle to warm up you’re getting 0 miles to the gallon.
Tire Pressure & Internal Electronics
Tire pressure also decreases as temperatures fall which increases rolling resistance. There are additional little things in your vehicle to keep in mind as well that require more power like heated seats, the defroster, and heater fans.
Fuel Blends & Aerodynamic Drag
Two external factors you can’t control are that the actual blend of gasoline or diesel in the winter is slightly less efficient than summer blends. Cold air is also denser than warm air. This causes more drag, making your vehicle less aerodynamic.
How to Improve Winter Fuel Efficiency
Everything about winter and the cold weather can be a real drag on your vehicle, however, there are things you can do to fix it! The most obvious and probably easiest way to better fuel economy in the winter is to check your tire pressure regularly. Make sure your PSI is set to your vehicle’s standards especially during the first few weeks of colder weather. By keeping your tire pressure in check you’ll help reduce rolling resistance.
The next thing you need to do is reduce friction in the engine. Hot Shot’s Secret FR3 Friction Reducer is a perfect solution to this problem. FR3 will reduce friction, lubricate and protect metal components, and increase fuel economy up to 5%. During the winter your fuel system needs all the help it can get. Start off by cleaning the injectors to get the best spray pattern and optional burn. Hot Shot’s Secret Gasoline Extreme is a one-tank clean-up formula that features a highly effective Polyetheramine (PEA) detergent to clean and control deposits found in and on fuel injectors, carburetors, intake valves, and combustion chambers. A good fuel additive for diesel vehicles at the onset of winter to clean and protect your fuel system is Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Extreme.
For diesel vehicles, we recommend that at every fill-up you should use Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Winter Anti Gel. This will not only stabilize your fuel and provide a needed cetane boost, but it will also prevent your fuel from gelling up. Gelled fuel will not just ruin your fuel economy, but it could lead to you stranded on the side of the road with a fuel-starved engine and plugged fuel filter. These steps can help recover some of the lost fuel economy winter will bring with it.
It’s also wise to keep an extra blanket, jumper cables, an emergency kit, and some extra food and water in your vehicle. Also, make sure to keep your washer fluid topped off, nothing is worse than having salt all over your windshield and being unable to see, which is just plain dangerous. This winter is on the way, whether we like it or not, but with some basic know-how, some great Hot Shot’s Secret products, and due diligence, you can stop winter’s full wrath on your vehicle and its fuel economy. Remember to protect your engine with FR3, protect your fuel system with Gasoline Extreme or Diesel Extreme and Diesel Winter Anti-Gel, and check your tire pressure regularly.