Car Care Tip: Boost Winter Fuel Economy

November 28, 2012

What You Need to Know About Winter Tires & Fuel Economy

Did you know the United States undergoes a seasonal gasoline transition twice a year? The EPA requires gas stations to sell a clean-burning fuel during the summer months when the ozone layer traps pollutants in our atmosphere. Summer-grade fuel produces less smog and releases less air pollutant than winter-grade fuel. Winter-grade fuel is generally less expensive than summer-grade fuel because of cheaper, more plentiful additives, but you might find yourself visiting the pump more often. Why?

Most vehicle fluids are thicker and more resistant to flowing when cold. This makes them harder to pump and requires your systems to work harder. Additionally, your vehicle must work harder to push through snow and slush than it would on a perfectly dry, clear road. For these reasons, you might find yourself refilling your tank more often. So, what can you do to improve mileage while staying safe on the road?

Monitor Tire Pressure – Tire pressure reduces by 1-2 pounds per inch with each 10-degree drop in temperature.  If the last time you checked was July, you might find you’re a few pounds low.  Check tire pressure regularly during the colder months to ensure your tires will perform effectively.

Plan Ahead – Instead of running lots of little errands, make one big trip.  Each vehicle has an optimum operating temperature.  The vehicle has to work hard to bring it up to it’s proper temperature. Longer trips shorten the time the vehicle needs to warm up.

Park in a Garage – If possible, park inside.  It keeps the vehicle warmer, further reducing the amount of work it must to do warm up.

Go Easy on Pedals – Try to avoid speedy starts and aggressive braking.  Aggressive driving burns through fuel and can reduce fuel economy.

If you notice a significant decrease in fuel economy, make an appointment with your trusted mechanic. Reduced fuel economy could be a symptom of other problems in a vehicle’s components. Pay attention to other warnings and talk with an honest auto repair professional about your concerns. The managers at Rad Air Complete Car Care and Tire Centers are happy to answer all of your questions.