Winter and Fuel Economy
Why is there a significant decline in my fuel economy during the winter?
Q: Every winter, I note a significant decline in my fuel economy. With another winter fast approaching, is there anything I can do to prevent this?
A: Unfortunately, the arrival of winter guarantees that your fuel economy will suffer. Winter gasoline formulations contain slightly less energy than summer blends, which means higher fuel consumption. Then, there is the cold itself that stiffens the oil and lubricants in the engine and drivetrain, requiring more power—and gasoline consumption—just to get things moving. Cold weather also means that it will take longer for the engine to reach normal operating temperature, which is required for its most efficient operation. Furthermore, note that extended warmups in the driveway to get the heater operating may make you more comfortable, but they do nothing to help fuel economy. Even the earlier arrival of darkness, which mandates greater headlight use, lowers fuel economy.
To increase fuel economy, combine trips to minimize cold-engine operation. Also, skip the warmup in the driveway; instead, start driving gently once the engine stabilizes following a cold start.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of AAA World.