Cold Weather Effects on Fuel Efficiency | Jeep, Dodge, Ram | Toronto
We had a pretty brutal winter in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville this past year, didn’t we? If you feel like that cold weather took a toll on your spirits, it also impacted your vehicle. You probably noticed it in a key area: fuel efficiency. There are a few reasons why this happens, and a few ways you can lessen the impact on your wallet.
Most experienced drivers expect a jump in fuel consumption come winter. When the temperature drops from 24 degrees to 7 degrees, the average urban commuter sees a 12-28% jump in fuel consumption. Air density also impacts aerodynamic resistance in winter, adding 1.3% in fuel consumption as your vehicle has to push harder against cold-weather wind. And winds themselves are generally stronger in the colder months.
Rougher driving conditions increase rolling resistance for your vehicle, and that makes the engine work harder. Wheel slippages due to snow and ice also demand more fuel, and although it is tough to measure precise fuel consumption increases due to winter driving conditions, the estimated increases are 7 to 35%.
Winter gas has a lower energy density than summer gas. It’s composition is adjusted seasonally and geographically based on historical temperature data. Thus, you will get less bang from your buck with winter gas, including diesel fuel.
The colder weather also takes a toll on your car’s electrical system: heating, defrosting, headlights, heated seats and mirrors—all require more energy from the vehicle’s electrical system, which draws power from the engine.
What you can do:
In days gone by, it was pretty common for Canadians to idle their cars for at least ten minutes in cold weather in an attempt to “warm up the engine.” But today’s cars do not require extensive idling periods, and in reality, all you’re doing is burning up gas. You may not know that 10 minutes of idling burns 0.25 to 0.50 litres of fuel and emits 600 to 1,200 grams of CO2, depending on your vehicle and conditions. It’s not necessary to idle a modern vehicle for more than 30 seconds, tops. The most efficient way to warm the drivetrain and cabin area is to drive for a few minutes. An additional tip: maintain good tire pressure throughout the winter season. Under-inflated tires decrease the life of the tire as well as adding about 4% to fuel consumption. Lastly, if you have a block heater, use it, and if you don’t, consider having one installed. Reducing fuel consumption and emissions, a block heater that is connected to a timer will give you a smoother start and less waste of fuel rich combustion.
Summer might be around the corner, but it’s never too soon to do your homework on fuel consumption culprits in the colder months. Come see us at Ontario Chrysler and check out our fuel-efficient options in the Ram, Wrangler, Cherokee and Caravan inventory.