Gas prices have really been dropping, and that is something we can all benefit from. However, with cold weather we can expect to experience a decrease in fuel economy.
According to the US Department of Energy:
Fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional gasoline car’s gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can drop as much as 22% for very short trips (3 to 4 miles). The effect on hybrids is worse. Their fuel economy can drop about 31% to 34% under these conditions.
As with every automotive function, the best thing any of us can do to increase our cars performance is simple maintenance. Your Fort Collins Auto Repair Shop is equipped and ready to prep and fine tune your car for colder driving conditions. When it comes to Fort Collins automotive efficiency, we need to be sensitive to the fact that not only do our cars need regular maintenance to remain in optimal condition, but due to our dramatic changes in temperature, moisture, and humidity, our cars can struggle. What was the most efficient when it comes to things like tire pressure and warm weather driving will not work as well when the weather gets colder. Just as we need to adjust our home heating and our wardrobes for colder conditions, we need our Fort Collins Auto Repair shop to properly adjust our cars to run optimally when the challenges of cold weather put a strain on mechanical operation of our vehicles.
Think of using your lawn mower in the summer. Now, if you wanted to pull it out in the winter (although what you might have to mow is a curious question), you can anticipate that it will be difficult or sluggish to start, and would not operate as effectively as it did in the summer, simply because cold weather impacts fluids and other components of any engine.
Cold weather has many impacts on our cars efficiency, including fuel economy. The first thing to do if you wish your gas usage to be as efficient as possible actually has nothing to do with the gasoline itself, it has to do with your car. This is why your Fort Collins Automotive provider, as well as most car manufacturers, recommend a winter maintenance regimen. As part of a seasonal maintenance tune up of your car, these elements will be inspected and adjusted as necessary to properly equip your car to operate efficiently in cold weather. Having your car well maintained will greatly improve fuel economy.
When it is cold, Engine and transmission friction increase due to cold engine oil and other fluids that are part of your drive line. Consequently, your car needs time to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature, unlike during the summer. Your Fort Collins Auto Repair will check all your fluids, as well as the mechanical elements that allow them to flow unimpeded, and make any needed changes. Generally, getting an oil change is also a very good idea at this time. Since motor oil is your engines most important lubricant, it needs to be clean and at the appropriate weight for cold driving conditions. Battery performance can also suffer during cold weather, which makes it more difficult to keep your alternator charged. An improperly charged alternator will have a negative impact on the entire operational functionality of your car.
Additionally, cold weather impacts tire pressure. Frigid temperatures will decrease tire pressure, so check with your auto technician or user guide about appropriate PSI for tires during cold weather. Most of us who live or drive frequently in heavy snow or ice will probably be switching out our tires at this time. Remember switching out tires is the ideal time to have your axles and suspension checked. It is crucial that your car has good alignment, good axles, and the other mechanical components that support a smooth safe ride. The last thing anyone wants is to go into a skid on black ice with a bad alignment. The results will not be pretty.
So by all means, bring your car in for a winter maintenance service. Some practical things to do to help with fuel efficiency you can do include:
- Don’t idle your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend only a 30 second warm up.The engine will warm up faster just by you driving it as opposed to letting it sit while it warms up.
- Try and combine as many trips as possible. The best time to get errands done is when your car is already warmed up. Winter is the time to get multiple things done once your car is warmed up as opposed to taking several short trips throughout the day.
- If possible, park your car in a heated area, like a garage. If the car does not get so cold overnight, it will operate more efficiently.